The Evolution of a Song
How Music Literacy is Explored with Legends of the Staff of Musique
Level 1 - Soulful Solfége
In this level, children learn the melody to a song, and are introduced to the musical notes within that song using solfège syllables. The space between the notes is felt via the use of "solfa" (a kind of musical sign language that uses Curwen hand signs to accompany the solfège syllables)
First they sing the song with the lyrics and the hand signs:
Then they sing the same song with the solfa:
Each of the notes in the scale are assigned a color in the rainbow, and these colors are explored further through colorful culinary delights!
Level 2 - Heartfelt Rhythm
In this level, children begin to feel how the notes move through space with the use of rhythm. With an emphasis on a steady beat, rhythmic syllables with corresponding body percussion are introduced.
First they sing the song with the body percussion and lyrics:
Then they sing the song with the body percussion and rhythmic syllables:*
*The rhythmic syllables are mostly based on the Takadimi system developed by Richard Hoffman, William Pelto, and John W. White, which pays humble homage to the rhythmic syllables that have been used in South Asian Carnatic music for centuries.
After experiencing how the rhythms feel in their bodies, the children then translate the body percussion and rhythmic syllables into stick notation of rhythms (commonly used in traditional Kodály classrooms) with simplified time signatures called "heartbeat meters."
Level 3 - Intuitive Notation
In this level, children are introduced to the staff and a moveable "do clef" (another tool commonly used in traditional Kodály classrooms)
After singing the song with solfa, the children notate the pitches on the staff using the same corresponding colors from Level 1.
Then the children clap/tap the rhythms with the corresponding body percussion, and add the stick rhythms to their colorful note heads.
Level 4 - The Language of Music
In this level the children are introduced to the treble clef, and the corresponding note names in that clef. They continue to use colored note heads and heartbeat meters, but with the addition of accidentals, simple key signatures, and numeric counting, the children are one step closer to traditional notation!
Level 5 - A Tapestry of Song
In this final level of the curriculum series, traditional notation is introduced! Children explore the circle of fifths and the key signatures contained therein. Simple time signatures replace the heartbeat meters, and the students explore the song using the entire process: Solfa, body percussion, colored note heads (on the treble clef) and stick notation.
Finally, the colored note heads are replaced by traditional black noteheads, and the evolutionary process is complete. The hope is that the children always still feel the rhythms in their bodies and see the colors in their mind, but at the end of this program the children will have the tools to take a piece of music and bring it into the world with their beautiful voices!
Why commit to memory, when you can learn by heart?