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Teach me to Sing!” JM Barrie – author of Peter Pan.
One thing I am often asked is why do I use Tonic or Movable do solfa to teach music?
I believe that one of the most important goals for us as educators is to teach true music literacy. This is the ability to see what you hear (as if it were written on a score) and hear what you see (hear the notes you see on a staff) – inner hearing.
“He who cannot hear what he sees and cannot see what he hears is not a musician” Zoltan Kodály.
In order for us to truly and profoundly UNDERSTAND music, we musicians need an absolute and a relative system for referring to pitch – letter names is our absolute system. Therefore we DO NOT need fixed do solfa as well (if C is always do then let’s just call it C) and tonic or movable do solfa is our relative system.
Here are just SOME of the reasons why I teach tonic solfa:
- Music, unlike other abstract universal languages e.g. maths – is most meaningful when actually EXPERIENCED. Therefore we experience music and express music as sound, hence we SING (and play too of course!).
- Tonic solfa gives you a language to use to “spell” music you see or hear;
- It helps you to hear music internally (in your head with NO external stimulation) and understand what you hear;
- It allows us to interpret and name each note’s function in a given key and in relation to one another. This is REGARDLESS of key, clef or the instrument we’re using.
In other words, do is ALWAYS the tonic of a Major key, so is ALWAYS the dominant in a Major key, la is ALWAYS the tonic of a minor key etc.
- It allows us to hear and experience patterns in all music – not just know them at an intellectual or academic level;
- We get a chance to integrate the aural, theoretical, spatial and kinaesthetic learning approaches for the musical language (the use of handsigns)