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  • The what, how and why of handsigns

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    Why use handsigns?

    Each Solfa note (do, re, mi etc.) has a certain shape you make with your hand whenever you sing it – a handsign.

    As you sing the notes, you also move your hand up and down in a way that matches how the pitches are moving.

    It’s this approach that means you use your whole body to understand the way notes relate to each other.

    Handsigns are used to provide a visual or kinaesthetic aid to singing and allows you to actually see the height or depth of the pitch.

    The handsigns are made in front of the body, with do falling at about waist level and la at eye level. Their distance in space corresponds with the size of the interval they represent.

    How handsigns help your music theory

    • handsigns can help with pitch recognition, in-tune singing and interval recognition (e.g. fa and ti always point to where the semitones lie)
    • handsigns are a way to practice pitches (or sight-read them) without making any sound as they are physically associated with pitch, this fosters the skill of Inner-Hearing
    • integrating handsigns also varies the way you can practice aural patterns
    • you can use handsigns to perform an aural pattern simultaneously – that is, sing one thing and sign another
    • handsigns offer physical or kinaestethic learners another way to engage and practice

    Dive into handsigns with DSMusic

    Looking for some opportunities to build your music theory skills, sing in Solfa and practice handsigns? Great news! DSMusic content is chock-full of chances to consolidate your handsign skills, and in the process, your musicianship.

    The videos below are but a few examples of the handsigning that’s possible with DSMusic!

    Images of the handsigns you’ll see around the place might have slight differences, but the general principles are the same. Here’s an example from page 4 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Example of handsigns for do, re and mi from page 4 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3

    A gift from us to you! Access a FREE full handsign chart for download here.

    Deb’s Tip for handsign use

    Make sure though that your handsigns show the pitch in the air accurately. For example, do should be around the height of your belly button, re is a step higher and so on up to high do” which is probably around the height of your forehead.

    What are handsigns?

    As mentioned when we’ve discussed Solfa previously, John Curwen developed handsigns in the 1840’s to accompany Sarah Ann Glover’s Solfa syllables. These were then slightly adjusted again and integrated into the Kodály teaching method by Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and educator Zoltán Kodály.

    Handsigns, just like conducting, are a gateway skill – using the physical action will support other elements of musicianship and aural awareness, particularly when you’re trying to introduce or practice concepts.

    Happy handsigning! – Deb

  • How Eilish & Holst can help you Decode Sound!

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    Check out some resources and content you might have missed around the DSMusic space recently.

    Resource Round-Up

    Build Better Performers!

    DSMusic has everything you need to digitally decode character, comparison, tempo, articulation, tone colour and more! Decoding Sound: Analysis for the Secondary School is a fully interactive way for students to build word lists and unpack interpretation as they listen, learn and become better performers.

    Each chapter builds on the skills and knowledge and includes definitions of terms, discussion of concepts, detailed analysis examples and ‘Your Turn’ activities after every example to build confidence and question answering skills.

    Plus all music examples are embedded in the PDF as live audio links, answers can be directly written in and Decoding Sound also comes with online sample answers for all questions in the book!

    Level 1, Lesson 22: Low la

    In this video students are introduced to the low la pitch. This builds on previous concepts learned regarding tone sets, tone ladders, solfa, handsigns and letter names. Deb provides visual aids for this and a song incorporating the pitch as an example.

    Level 2 Aural Test 1

    This Aural Test can be set after students have completed Level 2 Lesson 12 and comes with student tests and teacher answer sheets in PDF format. This test includes rhythmic dictation, melodic dictation, aural interval recognition and transcription of a bassline.

    Available with MAAT Level 2 Teacher!

    Eilish & Holst

    Have you ever taken an existing piece of music and interpreted it in your own style?

    Billie Eilish has done just this – borrowing a bit of Gustav Holst’s Hymn to Vena and repurposing it in her own eclectic and dark pop style for the song Goldwing. See how she does this and to hear the different characters of both pieces!

    Curated Content

    Birds Born Singing?

    Are birds born knowing how to sing? Find out in this fascinating TEDEd talk.

    Running Up That Hill

    A terrific look under the hood (theory and analysis, folks!) of this absolute banger from Kate Bush that’s everywhere right now!

    Gautier Quote

    We definitely agree about the music part of this — how many of you are cat lovers too? Let us know!

  • Let’s learn about letter names!

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    Music language is the method of human communication, either sung, played or written, consisting of the use of notes, in a structured and conventional way.

    If we’re thinking in terms of language, In music, letter notation can be a system used to represent pitches. In conventional Western note-naming, these are the letters A-G.

    These letter names communicate which notes you need to play on your instrument or sing and are also a fundamental component of music theory.

    These letter names work alongside Tonic Solfa; where A–B–C–D–E–F–G as letter names refer to the absolute notes or pitches, while the solfa syllables do–re–mi–fa–so–la–ti are relative, showing the relationship between pitches.

    So why should I use letter names?

    • letter names as a system link most strongly with note names/fingerings/positions when playing instruments
    • being able to read and write music using letter names is a universal skill – most music theory study or assessment uses this system
    • many instruments, ensemble settings and styles of music are notated using this system, so the more familiar you are with it, the better able you are to sight-read and continue making music with others
    • using letter names as opposed to scale degree numbers prevents confusion – imagine trying to keep track of what number was for the note and what number communicated the rhythmic value!
    • as the letter names progress alphabetically, this assists with understanding the order and sequence of pitches

    When did letter names launch?

    Music notation systems have used letters of the alphabet for centuries. The 6th-century philosopher Boethius is known to have used the first fourteen letters of the classical Latin alphabet to signify the notes of the two-octave range that was in use at the time.

    Following this, the range of used notes was extended to three octaves, and the system of repeating letters A–G in each octave was introduced. The two systems most commonly used today are the Helmholtz and the scientific pitch notation system.

    Letter names and the language of music

    Although Tonic Solfa is the best way to build your general aural and musicianship skills, letter names, and being able to read them, notate them and understand them, is closely related to what you’ll do theoretically in music, and as a performer.

    Just like with learning any language, it takes time to be able to read letter names quickly. Sightreading is a great way to foster this ability and speed up the note-recognition process, as well as strengthen the link between letter names knowledge and Tonic Solfa.

    Example from page 34 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 books:

    Excerpt of notation in simple time with letter names labelled underneath from page 34 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1

    Example from page 115 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2 books:

    Excerpt of notation in simple time with letter names and solfa labelled underneath from page 115 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2

    Example from page 174 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Important note

    Remember, when you sing a Major melody, scale or exercise in solfa you are practicing it in EVERY Major key there is (do is ALWAYS the tonic of EVERY Major scale etc). However when you sing in letter names you are only practicing THAT ONE Major key and no others.

    It is still important that you sing in letter names as it reinforces academic knowledge about that particular key (key signature) as well as helping you to develop “relative pitch” (the learned version of perfect pitch). So make sure you always sing the correct pitch when singing in letter names or your ears will learn the wrong pitches for the notes!

    Happy letter-naming! – Deb

  • Intervals, Analysis and Access — Music Is Transformative

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    Check out some resources and content you might have missed around the DSMusic space recently.

    Resource Round-Up

    Seeking some Analysis Aid?

    Get yourself a step-by-step look at expressive outcome (feeling, character or mood), the elements of music (including the expressive ones!) and how all of this contributes to interpretation in performance. Plus, build your analysis vocabulary word lists, foster answering and listening strategies and develop approaches for future practice.

    Get everything you need to succeed with the DSMusic Music Analysis Resource Pack!

    With a comprehensive interactive handbook, presentation notes, chat summary + Q&A, plus video recordings and bonus concept webinar content, this pack is available for repeat viewings and revision use, as well as making you a better performer!

    Rhythm Sightreading Sheet

    The ability to sightread rhythm is a fundamental skill for musicians and a key part of building music language.

    Read more Rhythms and Rhythmic Examples with this FREE DSMusic worksheet!

    On The Road

    Written by Christopher Burke, ‘On the Road’ is a simple song suitable for young students and beginners.

    Use this accessible resource early in their musicianship journey and get them on the road to strong music literacy!

    Intervals Practice Video

    Here, students are shown how to write ascending intervals (above and below given notes) in a very clear step-by-step process that incorporates staff notation and visual representation on a keyboard.

    Curated Content

    Transformative Power of Classical Music

    This TED talk is one of Deb’s absolute favourites! Hear Benjamin Zander let the world in on a little secret we already know!

    Butterflies & Performing

    Have a read of this great blog article about how your students (and you too!) can make the most out of performance anxiety.

    If you haven’t already, this is a great blog to subscribe to, with lots of performance-specific support.

    The Value of Music Education

    In this video, published on Jun 16, 2011 by TedxSydney, Music educator Richard Gill argued the case for igniting the imagination through music and for making our own music. Worth watching again and again! You are much missed Richard.

  • Why music literacy is as easy as do – re – mi!

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    What is Tonic Solfa?

    Tonic Solfa or Moveable do Solfa is a system of note naming in which every note within a scale is given a name based on its relationship to the other notes within that key.

    This is called tonic, functional or moveable do solfa as each name represents the function of that particular note (for example the function of ti – the leading note – is to lead to do and so on).

    Solfa shows us how to spell music – it’s a system for that in the same way the alphabet is for language.

    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).

    Solfa enables us to foster music language skills and 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.

    So why should you use tonic solfa?

    • 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 you 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 instrument. 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 you to experience music – not just know it at a practical, intellectual or academic level
    • it gives something concrete to hear when inner hearing
    • it allows for the integration of the aural, theoretical, spatial and kinaesthetic learning styles in an approach to learning the musical language (the use of handsigns)
    • it improves recognition of intervals and strengthens the understanding of music theory
    • solfa syllables were designed to be sung and to help with staying in tune
    • using tonic solfa – as opposed to lyrics of songs for instance – means patterns, intervals and phrases become more clear

    Important:

    To truly and profoundly UNDERSTAND music, 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.

    Where did Tonic Solfa come from?

    It is widely believed that Guido of Arezzo (an Italian music theorist and Benedictine monk from the Medieval era) was the first person to use solfa syllables in the 11th century. He is also thought to be the inventor of modern staff notation.

    He created these new techniques to allow musicians to more quickly learn Gregorian Chant (the unaccompanied single line chant used in the church at the time). Originally he used the syllables: ut re mi fa so la taken from the syllables at the start the first six phrases of a hymn that was well known at the time: “Ut queant laxis”.

    What we now know as tonic solfa or movable do solfa was turned into a more useful and accessible teaching technique by Sarah Ann Glover in the 18th century and was then further developed by John Curwen a century later. It was at this time the handsigns came into common use to support the learning of music notes. In the 20th century, Zoltan Kodály embedded these teaching techniques into a teaching method sometimes known as the Kodály Method.

    How can DSMusic help you do this?

    There are bunch of examples of tonic solfa below from the DSMusic flagship series, however this approach is foundational across all of our content and resources. Everything we’re doing is about music literacy, about building understanding and the ability to speak/hear/use music language.

    Use any of the Musicianship & Aural Training series — depending on where you’re at — to tap into tonic solfa, and if you’re after a little less teaching and learning but more practice and skill-strengthening, check out MLOCM.

    Example from page 8 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 books:

    Excerpt of notation in simple time with solfa labelled underneath from page 8 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1

    Another example from page 9 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 books:

    Excerpt of rhythm in simple time with solfa labelled underneath from page 9 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1

    Example from page 59 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2 books:

    Excerpt of notation in simple time and bass clef with solfa and letter names labelled underneath from page 59 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2

    Another example from page 114 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Excerpt of notation in compound time with solfa labelled underneath from page 114 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3

    Keen to try your hand at some tonic solfa and not sure where to start? Get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

    Happy Solfa-ing! – Deb

  • Sounding out rhythms = naming & knowing

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    Here at DSMusic, we’re big on the idea of really knowing concepts – understanding the what and why so you’re able to apply it to your music contexts in a practical way.

    Part of our approach to fostering musicianship skills – being musically literate, that is – involves rhythm names (you know, all that ta ta ti-ti ta stuff). Rhythm names, also known as time names, rhythm syllables etc, are functional rhythm!

    Rhythm names give a VERBAL rhythmic language that sounds correct when spoken.

    This means you are learning the SPELLING for rhythm so when you hear a rhythm you know how to SPELL (write/say) it. See? Music literacy 101.

    So how does using rhythm names help?

    • the rhythm names actually “sound” like the rhythm they represent and last for the same amount of time
    • they give you a tangible thing to say and think for rhythm (just as solfa – doremi etc- give a tangible thing to say or think when representing pitch)
    • these help to internalise (or audiate) rhythm
    • they enable you to sightread rhythm patterns
    • rhythm names also help you recognise and transcribe rhythmic patterns
    • overall, they aid in reading, writing, memorisation, dictation, practice, and performance of music

    Where do rhythm names come from?

    Rhythm syllables were developed so that students could have a musical way to read rhythm.  This idea is not new, systems like this have been in use for many hundreds of years in Indian music (where it is called Bol), in Japan (where it is called kuchi shoga), and in African music. The system we use here was adapted from the work of the French musician and teacher, Emile-Joseph Chevé (1804-1864).

    The idea is that this system could get away from mathematical counting (which feels unmusical) while still showing durations and relationships between notes.  A rhythm syllable system gives a set of syllables or sounds to associate with written notation and beat formations.

    What can rhythm names do for me?

    Have you ever gone to sightread a new piece and not known where to start? Maybe you’re trying your hardest to practice a difficult bar or two but you’re not sure how to unpack what’s causing the stumble. Separating rhythm out in this way, or making the first thing you try to consider when sightreading is a great start.

    Understanding what the rhythmic grouping is called and having a naming system to use, gives you the tools to clap, count and keep it in your memory banks for when you see it again. Take a look at some examples of rhythm names below – you’ll be able to see how they give you an internal approach to keeping time and getting rhythms right.

    Example from page 45 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 books:

    Simple Time Rhythm with Rhythm Names from page 45 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1

    Example from page 93 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2 books:

    Compound Time Rhythm with Rhythm Names from page 93 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 2

    Example from page 133 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Simple Time Rhythm with Rhythm Names from page 133 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3

    Example from page 93 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Compound Time Rhythm with Rhythm Names from page 93 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3

    Important note

    The use of rhythm names does not replace learning the theoretical names of the rhythms e.g. crotchets and quarter notes.

    Theoretical names help in identifying, classifying and discussing rhythm, especially as this is what you’ll find in your music tests and exams.

    However, being able to name or identify something is not the same as internalising it as sound. Remember, theoretical names do not teach what the rhythms sound like, only rhythm names do.

    Happy rhythm naming & knowing! – Deb

  • Canons, Creativity & Communities

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    Check out some resources and content you might have missed around the DSMusic space recently.

    Resource Round-Up

    DSMusic Rhythmic Shorthand

    Here at DSMusic, we’re big fans of rhythmic shorthand as a vital part of the rhythmic transcription process. This approach helps you quickly notate how many sounds you hear on each beat, and, like it says on the label, gives you a shorthand for translating that onto the staff.

    So why not try your hand at a short, quick and easy way to jot down what you need? Sure up your shorthand with this FREE DSMusic worksheet by clicking on the heading or the image to the left.

    While you’re at it, if you’re keen to learn more about what this looks like, check out an example in real time with Deb via her free video tutorials on Vimeo!

    Level 1: Laugh Ha-Ha Canon

    In this four-part traditional canon, students have the chance to build their independent singing skills within a simple 2/4 time signature.

    Suitable for beginners or young children, this canon is so accessible you will be laughing all the way to the classroom!

    Level 2 Resource: Creative Assignment 7

    Set the scene by scaffolding student learning – use the example practice activities provided to do this.

    There’s a few extension options and example submissions and rubrics to get your students composing a canon in a Major key using known chords and appropriate voice leading.

    Analysis Video: Expressive Element Evidence

    Not sure how to answer analysis questions? Give this bite-sized Q&A concept a go with Deb and nab yourself some handy pointers.

    There’s much more of this type of content in the Music Language Online Course – Analysis Module.

    Curated Content

    Violinist Brain Surgery

    This is a fascinating account of a violinist who underwent brain surgery whilst playing their instrument. This was to ensure crucial hand movement and coordination skills were not damaged by doctors.

    Aren’t our brains remarkable?

    LADAMA – Ted Talk Video

    This group of wonderful musicians treats us to an enthusiastic performance as well as a snapshot of the ever-important work they’re doing around empowering communities!

    Who have you collaborated with musically (or as an educator) in the past to bring perspective and passion to your little pocket of the world and beyond? Let us know!

    Music Therapy &
    Anxiety in Kids

    An interesting read for educators and parents alike. Particularly considering the impact COVID-19 has had on teaching, learning and all things concerning mental health.

    Do you have any experience with music therapy?

  • Memorisation & Music Learning

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    An important aspect of any musicianship, music literacy or music aural and music theory work we do is memorisation.

    This is where you memorise a specific concept or element (e.g. scales or chords etc.) or activity (e.g. a melody or rhythm etc).

    The obvious reason for doing this is so that the information is there, in your brain, when you need it in a class or an exam situation, without you having to find the page in the book or the video of someone (Deb!) performing it.

    However, memorising something also allows you to truly practice it using all the great ideas available to you.

    The act of memorising means you’re more likely to actually know the information, which frees up brain power to continue learning new material. Memorisation upgrades your memory capacity and duration.

    Learning benefits of memorisation

    • by memorising, you’re storing the information away for use later, but importantly, you’re also contextualising it
    • by memorising, you’re training your brain for the addition of future concepts and learning – that sort of exercise is key
    • memorisation is a really great progress tracker for your understanding – it’s not just about rote recall, it’s the fact that you’re popping this stuff in your long-term memory
    • aside from the brain boost you get from actively memorising generally, it’s also useful as a musician when applying it practically
    • memorisation is a natural form of extension when building your musicianship – this challenges you, hastens your progress and allows you to really practice something
    • memorisation is just another way for you to learn!

    Important note

    Our working memory capacity is limited to roughly seven pieces of information at a time – might feel even less when exams roll around! – so in order to gather, store, sort, manipulate and retrieve stuff when we need it, we have to repeat and repeat and repeat!

    Your music teachers might have mentioned to you before about “muscle memory” – as in, the more you play or sing your scales, the quicker and easier they begin to feel practically. The same is true of the musicianship muscles in your mind!

    How can DSMusic help you do this?

    The great news is that this need for repetition aligns pretty well with the regular, sequential practice that builds music literacy skills. We’re all about this at DSMusic so all of the resources and products on offer are designed to incrementally enhance what you’re able to do and what you really know.

    There are multiple opportunities throughout the existing DSMusic flagship Musicianship & Aural Training Series – and their accompanying tutorial and practice videos. Below are some examples of Clever Echo activities that help to build your aural and memorisation or recall skills.

    Still looking for more memorisation? Check out the Music Language Online Course – Musicianship Module. There are over 150 practice activities to help strengthen your skills and plenty of these incorporate memorisation, just like the example below where the last step involves singing the scale without a video/audio guide.

    Read on for more….

    Prior to the immediate access to information we have today, people had to memorise large amounts of detail, which they did successfully. This meant they were able to build on the knowledge they gathered in order to understand and apply in their contexts.

    Nowadays, despite the wealth of data at our fingertips (or scrolling thumbs!) we actually know even less than our ancient counterparts. We don’t do the memory work needed to properly store things we consume in our long-term memory. Just like anything, it’s a skill to be practiced.

    Andrew Ingkavet believes that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life. As a musician I’m sure you’d agree! He says:

    “We need to get to the very heart of emotion in the music, and the only way is to memorise, internalise, and interpret as our own. To know the music fully”.

    Happy memorising! – Deb

  • Why you should compose when practicing music literacy skills

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    Composition, just like performance, is a beneficial way to apply your music aural and music theory skills – what we call musicianship or music literacy – and to foster creativity.

    In the same way playing an instrument or singing gives you a chance to combine your practical technique, sound production and interpretation, composition is informed by your musical understanding.

    By manipulating and experimenting creatively with the concepts and elements of your own musicianship, you consolidate, contextualise and really KNOW.

    After all, if we can compose a melody that sounds great using the Mixolydian Mode it means we are at least starting to understand the Mixolydian Mode, and so on.

    Learning benefits of composition

    • if you can create, it means you truly understand the musical concepts you are composing with, beginning with the notes and rhythms and moving forward to including phrasing, form, harmony etc.
    • composition gives you a very good understanding of the types of things that make logical melodies, rhythms and chord progressions (and therefore learn to look for and expect them in your transcriptions and performance works)
    • composition builds skills – being able to create short logical melodies, rhythms etc. allow you to anticipate what you might hear (if you need to “fake it” in exams or tests)
    • composition cultivates your own creative and expressive voice – anyone can give it a go
    • composition can give you a way to hone in on a particular concept – if you’re struggling with a certain rhythmic grouping, try and make it the focus of your composition until you really understand it
    • composition is the best way to reinforce what you think you know!
    • composition brings together other musical skills – performance, performance analysis, musicianship etc.

    Deb’s tips for getting started with composing

    Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with composition. It may not feel entirely comfortable at first, particularly if you’ve never really tried to create music before, but in this way having the structure of a certain concept might help.

    For example, rather than just staring at a blank staff having no idea what to write, you can draw inspiration from the concepts you’re working on. Learning about Ab Major Scale? Try to compose a short melody in that key. Getting your head around triplets? Pop them in your piece.  

    Notating what you create is important. Though there are several ways to do this, putting pencil to manuscript paper is best for consolidating all the skills you’re building. There’s nothing wrong with using programs like GarageBand to experiment with sounds and loops and musical motifs but the only way to really use composition as a means to strengthen your music aural, music theory and musicianship is by writing using the language of music.

    How can DSMusic help you do this?

    Recognising the benefits of this approach for strengthening musicianship, as we’ve already discussed, opportunities to incorporate composition have been woven into the existing DSMusic flagship Musicianship & Aural Training Series – check out the examples below.

    Example from page 97 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1 books:

    Composition activity with blank staff from page 97 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 1

    Example from page 18 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3 books:

    Composition activity with blank staff from page 18 of the Musicianship & Aural Training for the Secondary School Level 3

    Feel ready to make a start? Great! Use these resources to help you!

    Taken from our Music Language Online Course – Musicianship Module (or MLOCM), these composition sheets give you the space, prompting and support to get your ideas down on paper.

    Try your hand at composing in 9/8 or 12/8 metre, or on the bass and treble staff and then – have a go at performing back what you’ve created.

    Read on for more….

    Although composition, and therefore composers, generally study what’s come before – the practices and approaches of Western classical music – it really has a broader meaning. It’s essentially the creation of any new musical work and can also include instances of spontaneous improvisation. Composition is basically an ordering of musical sounds, which can be notated conventionally or preserved digitally.

    Happy composing! – Deb

  • Beethoven & Bingo

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    Check out some resources and content you might have missed around the DSMusic space recently.

    Resource Round-Up

    DSMusic Rhythm Bingo

    Looking for some ready-made Rhythm Bingo sheets? Deb’s got it sorted for you.

    This free resource is part of the Level 2 DSMusic curriculum and focuses on basic rhythmic values – it’s a great way to get your students clapping back and recognising rhythms.

    You’ll find the instructions as well as the rhythm bingo cards themselves – though Deb recommends laminating these after you’ve printed them off. There are also some handy suggestions for other variations of bingo with a music theme.

    Anyone got Bingo? Be sure to call out when you do!

    Level 1: Lara’s Train

    Using only the notes of the pentatonic scale and simple 2/4 time, this Deb Smith original composition chugs along on the track and is a great one to use when teaching and practicing semiquavers.

    Level 3 Video: Transposition

    Here, Deb takes students through the basics of transposition, giving them a solid theoretical foundation in this concept.

    Students are introduced to transposition using interval patterns with C, G and F Major Scales.

    Level 1: Research Assignment

    This Research Assignment can be set at any time for Level 1 students. While they’re busy digging into the details of a famous composer, you’re helping them build important investigative, interpretive and music history skills.

    This assignment includes everything you need – task, questions, format and a rubric.

    Curated Content

    Sightreading Meme

    Anybody else like this?

    Here at DSMusic we’re big on building the music language skills and step-by-step strategies for sightreading like a superstar but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our off-days, right?

    Beethoven Bites

    Performance anxiety and nerves are an ongoing part of our students’ journey as young musicians.

    Access this combination of orchestration and timbre via Beethoven, a terrific free resource provided by the MSO. Students can also watch a 30min video that talks about the great composer’s timbral toolbox.

    Keen for more from this series? Check out the rest.