Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

trying to apply elementary school music pedagogy to college-student intro music reading teaching

transitfan's picture

3/24: Music-reading class

Today only three students showed up, but there were notable improvements over my previous class. In advance, I planned a skeleton lesson plan, which helped me stay on track. I can continue to work on clarity, but my instructions were generally quicker and I never apologized.

We started writing our “names in music” (assigning the letters A-G in our names to the letters in the alphabet.) Then I meant to play our “name piece” on the piano at the end but I just remember now that I forgot. I asked the two students who are more confident to treble clef to write in bass clef; it slowed them down but I hope it was good practice.

Next I showed what rests look like on the chalkboard; I did this in a simple, traditional-education way.

But next we did a new activity; rhythmic dictation the way the students do it at Boatley (but here with more complicated rhythms.) The first rhythm students did easily. The second was much trickier, especially because I messed up the Kodaly syllables a little. A student took initiative in asking me to break it down beat by beat. This is lucky; I doubt an elementary school student would have asked me to do this and they would have missed out on a good strategy for me to help them to complete the rhythm. The third rhythm is a little easier.

“We'll do a couple more of these next week,” I say. I should probably have emphasized that they did a great job and these were trickier examples than we use in elementary schools for students who had been taking music for a full year. That said, I think the examples were appropriate for these students, who are singing a very challenging piece in chorale.

Next I show what intervals look like; again just putting them up on the blackboard in a boring list. However, the patterns are pretty obvious (minor 2, Major 2, minor 3, Major 3...) so I make it a little interactive by having them guess what they next ones will be. Not much fun though.

Finally, I teach them how they can start ear-training for intervals using a resource on I know it will be a slow process, but I don't know a faster way to learn intervals. (Kodaly could do this over a course of years in a more fun way-- probably Kodaly is more Finland like and my way is more Harlem Children's Zone cramming-like.)

I am using Kodaly in sense of lots of activities per short class and Kodaly rhythm syllables. However, since they are already singers and here to learn reading music I feel comfortable going in the order I am going which is sort of the opposite of how Kodaly elementary students learn to read music. Last week, Mr. Baker at the Boatley upper school said that this order (that I use) is really only possible for older students. In any case, it's quick and seems to work.