Friday, January 27, 2012

Solfeggio: Kodaly's 'Moveable" DO

A fun activity that I encourage my parents to do with their children is to place a few m&m's in a musical pattern on a blank music staff for their children to play on the their tone bells.
A great question came up about the activity. Something like, "When I put an m&m on the first line 'e' and tell her to start on 'c' on the bells, is the activity more about staff relationships or should I be telling her it's actually an e but we're starting on c?" This is where knowledge of the 'Moveable' DO System helps everything make more sense.

Parents often wonder why I'm telling the children that the first line is 'middle c' when it's actually 'e' when we're practicing sight reading from the staff. What I'm actually telling them is that the first note, wherever I may put it, is DO. Not 'c' or 'e' or any other letter. Since there's no clef on the staff to tell of where 'middle c' is, it can be anywhere!
Let's let Shelle explain further...

'Moveable' DO System
The Kodaly solfeg system (used by LPM) is called a 'Moveable' DO system where in any given key, the first note of the scale is DO. In other words, in the key of F major, 'F' is DO or in the key of A flat, 'A flat' is DO. Dick Grove, a notable musician and educator of the late 20th century, has said, "The best and most productive version of solfeg is [the] 'Moveable' DO'." (Grove)

The alternative form of solfeggio is a 'fixed DO' system, meaning that middle C is always DO, D is Re, and so on. But, to a child who has learned through solfeg the concept of 'Moveable DO' there are no restrictions, there is no loyalty to the note or key of C! This concept of a moveable DO is vital as a child learns to transpose and arrange music because they are not trapped by the idea of Middle C being DO, rather, they are aware of pitch relationships within any key or scale.

"Whether it is E or G is less important than whether it is mi or so. Each note has a character in the context of the scale. Think of the role of B or C, then think of the role of ti or do. Without knowing the key we are in, B or C could be anywhere, but ti and do have meaning according to their position in the Major scale." -Gregory R. Giese

So there you have it!! The reason for all the syllables and hand signs in every class! It's part of the awesome curriculum that provides the best musical foundation for building great musicians!
This concludes the 5 part series of "Solfeggio: The Language of Music" written by Let's Play Music creator and founder, Shelle Soelberg. Hope you enjoyed!
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