Monday, March 2, 2015

I've Been Impaled!

How do you teach solfa?  How do you get your kids to remember it?  I am a Kodaly teacher at heart, so I love the sequence of teaching these notes, but sometimes my kids would still struggle with remembering which ones go where on a staff.

I teach that my solfa notes live on a magical mountain called "Melody Mountain."  (Next door is "Rhythm Valley" for when I teach rhythmic concepts).  I've seen other people use "Music Street" or "Pitch Hill" kinds of ideas - and these are great.  I love the mountain concept because it helps the kids remember which notes are higher than others - because they can see it visually.

Last year, I had an entire bulletin board specifically for Melody Mountain.  I wish I still had that.. My principal also doesn't want us hanging stuff on the walls because of holes/residue....anyway, I'm trying (still) to figure out how to get it up without a bulletin board.  I'm supposed to get one eventually....

I made the rise on the hill smaller for mi-fa, and again for ti-do (this really helps my kids with half steps).

When I introduce a new note, I tape one of these guys up on a house:
I don't know if you can tell (so sorry about the picture quality), but I alternated girls/boys with them.  Do is a girl, Re is a boy, Mi is a girl, etc.  I did that for one main reason:  lines and spaces on the staff!  My kids used to really struggle with this, but now, they are so, so good.

I make up silly little stories about each note.  For example, "do" is a girl who just really loves rocks.  Her favorite music is "rock and roll," her favorite candy is "pop rocks," and her favorite game is "rock paper scissors."  She always does "rock," of course.  And, because she built her house out of rocks, it is pretty heavy, so it has to be at the bottom of the mountain.

Each of my stories helps the kids remember where the note is in relation to the others, as well as the hand sign with the note.  Then, the kids remember that when do is in a space, all of the other "girls" are in spaces too, and when do is on a line, all of the other "girls" are on lines as well.  This quickly resolves which note goes where.  All the kids do is find do, or look for the do clef, and they are all getting great at alternating lines and spaces on the staff.

This technique has worked pretty successfully for me for a few years, and then came along the movie "Frozen."  For some reason, this little clip stuck with me:
My kids love this part!  We talk about how when notes live in spaces, they don't even really touch a line, but when they live on a line, they are "impaled" by that line.  The kids just giggle about that - they love it so much :)

Whenever I show a "mystery measure" on the board when the students come in, sometimes the first thing I hear is:  "Oh, look - the girls are impaled today!"

Or - "The girls are in spaces, so the boys must be impaled today!"

It's just these little things that make me happy :)

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