Teaching Rhythm & Tonal Skills: Part 2

Always Sound Before Sight!

Can students be taught to read and write music? Yes!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Can students progress even further to being able to improvise, create, arrange, describe, evaluate, read, notate, compare, and contrast? Yes!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To avoid confusion between rhythm and tonal skills and music concepts, rhythm and tonal skills are always comprised of rhythm and tonal patterns, and must always be taught as patterns.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
How can a music teacher develop students from hearing and listening, where most music teaching occurs, to rhythm and tonal literacy of reading and writing music?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Always from Sound to Sight!

Audiation
When Students "Remember" Music And Recall It "Internally"

Generally speaking, audiation is the ability internally to recall music inside one's mind after its physical presence has passed. Dr. Edwin Gordon contended that aural perception happens when we actually hear sound the very moment it is being produced. Then following, audiation of sound is after we have aurally perceived it. Gordon defined audiation as the assimilation and comprehension "in our minds music that we have just heard performed or have heard performed sometime in the past" (2003, p. 4). Gordon further defined audiation as the assimilation and comprehension "in our minds music that we may or may not have heard but are reading in notation or are composing or improvising" (p. 4). Gordon explained, in aural perception, the mind considers immediate sound events, while in audiation, the mind considers delayed musical events.

Specific Sequence
Tonal And Rhythm Patterns Are Learned And Internalized In A Specific Sequence

Although Dr. Gordon concluded there are more than the following learning steps for rhythm and tonal skills, the following five are presented as summary overviews.

Discrimination And Inferential Learning
Effective Learning Progresses Through Two Levels, Discrimination And Inferential

When we first learn something new, we are in Discrimination learning. Discrimination learning is the presentation of Knowledge, learning how to Comprehend that knowledge, and learning basic Application of it. These are the lower three levels of Blooms's Revised Taxonomy of the Cognitive. The goal of learning should not stop there. All teachers should lead students into Inference Learning. Inference learning is being competent with using the knowledge to Evaluate, then Synthesize the knowledge with other knowledge, and Create new music events. These are the upper three levels of Bloom's Taxonomy. In inferential, music students become proficient with improvising, creating, composing, arranging, manipulating, reading, notating, describing, evaluating, comparing, and contrasting. Discrimination learning is learning by rote or imitation. Inferential learning is the transfer of any familiar knowledge or skills to produce something new. Said another way, inferential learning is the use of unfamiliar knowledge in some manner. Typically, there are three levels of inferential learning. From easiest to most difficult; first is use of familiar knowledge in an unfamiliar setting; second, the unfamiliar in a familiar setting; and third, the unfamiliar in an unfamiliar setting.

Music And Language Are Parallel
Learning Music Is The Same As Learning Language

All music teachers need to know that researchers concluded literacy in Rhythm & Tonal Skills is learned the same way we learn literacy in language. To understand music learning sequences, parallel explanations about language are in brackets to help clarify the music learning. While learning literacy in language uses words and phrases, the most efficient manner to teach rhythm and tonal literacy is through flash cards of rhythm and tonal patterns. (See Book 1A: Rhythm & Tonal Flash Cards.) The five sequenced rhythm and tonal literacy steps are following.

Step 1: Aural/Oral/Kinesthetic (Abbreviated AOK)
An Activity Focusing On The Whole

First, students are given aural exposure to rhythm and tonal patterns. Aural-Oral-Kinesthetic is a three-part holistic activity that encompasses hearing a rhythm or tonal pattern, reproducing it by chanting or singing, and translating into motions. At this level, rhythm patterns are chanted with a neutral syllable "Du" and tonal patterns are sung with a neutral syllable "Nu" or "Bum." (Avoid using "La" as it denotes the sixth degree of the major scale.) The experience of the sound is preeminent---no identifying vocabulary of any kind is involved. This level constitutes exposure to and experience with music before any associations are made. [In language, this kind of exposure involves hearing language as an infant and experimenting, such as babbling, with the sounds of the language.]

Step 2: Verbal Patterns (Abbreviated VP)
An Activity Focusing On Parts

Second, after students are able to verbalize sound differences (in their own words) between contrasting rhythm and tonal patterns, the rhythms and tonal patterns are labeled with their correct vocabularies. Rhythm uses numbers and rhythm syllables. Tonal uses solfege syllables. Verbal Patterns is the stage in which the exposure to sound refers to the association of certain words or sounds with rhythm and tonal patterns. Identifying vocabulary is now introduced. One must rote teach verbal associations for rhythm and tonal patterns initially taught at the AOK. Actual rhythm syllables and tonal syllables are used. Proceed to next level only when the students can recognize the patterns by name. [In language, the child recognizes that a chair has the name "chair."]

Step 3: Verbal Songs (Abbreviated VS)
An Activity Focusing On The Whole

Third, students recognize and identify rhythm and tonal patterns by their syllables in the context of a unit larger than the isolated pattern, such as a phrase, section, or whole song. Verbal Songs chain together various isolated VP rhythm or tonal patterns into the context of a whole song, or locate one isolated pattern where it is used in a song. This step is concerned with how well the child can recognize a familiar tonal or rhythm pattern(s) within a song, and use the correct rhythm or tonal syllables in the identification process. [In language, a child starts putting isolated words together in sentences to express a thought. "Sit in chair and read book, Mommy?"]

Step 4: Symbolic Patterns (Abbreviated SP)
An Activity Focusing On Parts

Fourth, after a thorough understanding of the sound (AOK), vocabulary is added to the patterns (VP), the patterns are recognized in context of the whole (VS), students are now ready to learn the symbolic (SP & SS). Students associate written symbols to the already learned sounds of the verbal patterns. These symbols are connected to sound patterns, not individual notes. Associating symbolic to sound may occur in three sub-steps (4a, 4b, 4c). [In language, a child can recognize a chair, uses the word in a sentence, and also recognizes the written word "chair."]

Step 4a: Symbolic Patterns (Abbreviated SP1)
An Activity Focusing On Parts

Rhythm Examples: Teacher chants a duple rhythm prep: "1 - 2 - Read-y Lis-ten" or a triple rhythm prep: "1 - - 2 - - Read - -dy Lis - -ten." Teacher plays the rhythm to be identified on claves, and students circle the correct rhythm syllables for what they heard.
Duple Rhythm Pattern: "1 ta nay ta 2 ta nay ta 1 ta nay ta 2 ta nay ta"
Triple Rhythm Pattern: "1 ta nah ta nee ta 2 ta nah ta nee ta 1 ta nah ta nee ta 2 ta nah ta nee ta"

Tonal Examples: Teacher sings a tonal prep such as: "Major rests on Do" on Do-Mi-Re-Ti-Do. Teacher sings on neutral syllables "Nu" or "Bum" the notes to be identified, and students circle the correct tonal syllables for what they heard.

 
S    S    S
M  M  M
 
 
L    L    L
S    S    S
M  M  M
 
 
 
S    S    S
M  M  M
D   D   D
 
 
 
M  M  M
R   R   R
D   D   D
L    L    L
S    S    S
M  M  M
D   D   D
 

Additional Tonal Examples: Any and all of the modes should be used. Harmonic Minor: "Minor rests on La" on La-Do-Ti-Si-La. Or Natural Minor: "Minor rests on La" on La-Do-Ti-So-La. (Note: Since our Western culture music seems to emphasize the Major mode, in keeping with teaching relationships, it is best to relationally connect all modes to Major, which means Minor begins on La, Dorian begins on Re, Mixolydian begins on Mi, etc. Elements of both Fixed Do and Moveable Do are used. When all modes are relationally taught within one key signature, this may be considered "Fixed Do." However, if one changes the key signature, Do acquires a new tonal center, which may be considered "Moveable Do.")

 
M  M  M
D   D   D
 
 
F    F    F
M  M  M
D   D   D
 
 
 
M  M  M
D   D   D
L    L    L
 
 
 
D   D   D
T    T    T
L    L    L
F    F    F
M  M  M
D   D   D
L    L    L
 

Step 4b: Symbolic Patterns (Abbreviated SP2)
An Activity Focusing On Parts

Students begin converting the above rhythm and tonal patterns by associating written symbols to the already-learned verbal rhythm and tonal patterns. For rhythm, choose which note value should represent the beat, which then indicates the note values for divisions, subdivisions, elongations, and so on. Use stems and note heads on a single staff line for rhythm. For tonal, the staff of five lines and four spaces is superimposed on the spaced syllables in Step 4a. Use note heads only on the staff for tonal, so as to not imply duration (rhythm) or meter.

Step 4c: Symbolic Patterns (Abbreviated SP3)
An Activity Focusing On Parts

The above rhythm and tonal patterns in Steps 4a and 4b are accurately notated with appropriate meter and key signatures.

Step 5: Symbolic Songs (Abbreviated SS)
An Activity Focusing On The Whole

Students can now use everything learned in the previous steps in the context of whole songs. The written symbols learned at the SP level are chained together to form phrases and sections. [In language, words are chained together to form written phrases or sentences.] In this step, reading for both music and language in its truest sense begins. The student can take a piece of music, perform the rhythm and tonal patterns, and chain those patterns together to perform the piece as a whole. As with reading, performance may be aloud or internalized (audiated).

Sequence Is Imperative
Always Sound Before Sight

This sequence for learning sound to sight with rhythm and tonal literacy must not be altered. It is imperative the above specific sequence be maintained for learning effectiveness. All learning starts at the Discrimination level. The inclusion of any unknown element or creative activity with the above familiar items then becomes Inferential learning. In general terms, sound always comes before sight!

Bibliography
See Music Education Resources For The Complete List





© 2018 Knauss Curriculum Publishing