Example : BROTHER JOHN
When speaking we produce one tone for each syllable. The melody of FRÈRE JAQUES follows this speech pattern with one syllable per pitch. To pave a child-friendly path for this “listening work”, I have divided the songs text to correspond with its melodic syllables. ││: ← these signs mean: REPEAT → :││
By “paving a child friendly path”, I mean to clear away all concepts that normally “muddy the terrain of singing” for children, or more accurately- to remove the complexities. I therefore omit the regularly used hyphens (Mor-ning bells are rin-ging), because the hyphenation is clear enough with the vertical lines of the columns. I use this simplified path for all its possibility and gather “low hanging fruits” that sprout along the way. For example, this song is the perfect opportunity to introduce the repeat symbol. Its consistent use within the song makes for easy application and repeated practice. Also, the various durations of different tones can be visually represented in the table. Thus:
- Repeat symbols are displayed above the table
- Syllables are divided into cells correspondent with their held length. Later on, these cells will be identified as “fourths” and “eighths”.
DO is the fundamental note. Do can lie anywhere. However our voices, our instruments, and our ears are limited in the height and the depth to which they can produce and hear sound. Thus, with a poorly chosen Do, it can become impossible to sing a melody through or fit it into the confining allotments of a certain instrument.
It is therefore wise to begin with a predetermined DO position (we can tinker with it later on). In this way we secure that a melody´s complete range will be accessible.With this song, the “critical area” is “Ding-Dang-Dong“: “Do-So-Do“. If Do is lower than D, the „Ding-Dang-Dong“ is outside the screens predetermined range. However a higher Do is possible.
→ Exercise: Write the solmization names under each melodic syllable
The children are already familiar with the melody and their ears “tell” them, whether or not they pick the correct tones. When a child is certain that they have found the right tone, they can then write the name of this tone under the text. Allow the children to work alone. As is usual, some will be quicker, others will need more time. The melody is short and the task should be manageable for everyone.
What do children learn in this assignment?
Within the cognitive science rhetoric for children’s learning, words like “incidental”, “passive”, and “unintentional” often crop up. Children learn:
- If we want to precisely distinguish between tones, we must give them names (hence Solmisation). Children will learn these names.
- the position of tones in relation to one another (Do-Re-Mi…) and how these relationships sound.
Sing the melody with the new Solmization names.
In the next lesson ask the children: “Do you remember the names?”
Time and time again as this scenario plays out, they do know the names without having it taught previously in theoretical terms. This is the “incidental-effect. However, if children are then prompted to sing the original melody on “Do-Re-Mi”, they often won’t be able to. This demand and the pressure are too high; but bring out the Tablet, and even this task is miraculously effortless.
After a couple repetitions, most children will be able to sing this „new verse“ (on Do Re Mi) by rote. However, this is not our goal, we want them to “learn music“.
You find more details and more examples in PLAYING WITH MELODIES. You can order this didactics as PDF. See under Contact.