Sight-singing
  • music123
    Posts: 98
    Does anyone have any ideas on how to teach sight-singing to a choir of somewhat reluctant learners? My most immediate concern is actually rhythm, dotted rhythms in particular, though of course pitches could be addressed eventually. Are any of the books that are published out there helpful? Are there any worksheets on the Internet anywhere? I think I would prefer the numbers route to the solfege route.

    Thanks for your input!
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    What age are your reluctant learners? Adults or children? (Children are easier.)
  • juhorton,
    Movable-do solfege is the most accurate and easiest way to teach singers of any age to sight-sing, both modern pitch notation and chant. The numbers are counter-productive because the intervals between numbers are not consistent between major and minor and with respect to accidentals. In fact, I have been assisting in teaching an OF choir of seasoned adults to sight-sing chant, which then is rubbing off on their reading of modern notation, and they are delighted (and making progress, and enjoying it!).

    For modern rhythmic notation, the Kodaly rhythm syllables seem silly at first, but they are effective and can eventually be left behind except when you need to clarify a rhythm--at which point the singers will figure it out on their own and be proud of themselves--the best possible outcome. Take a look at:
    http://brisbane.directrouter.com/~kod1523/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35:rhythm-syllables&catid=46&Itemid=59 (on the Kodaly syllables)

    http://www.classicsforkids.com/teachers/training/rchart.asp (a chart of the basic syllables)

    and, surprisingly, the Wikipedia article on the Kodaly concept describes the use of rhythmic syllables (and the repulsed 'ah' on 2+ beat notes) quite well.

    If you would like some help, e-mail me offlist at pwarren (a) christeluxmundi (d) org and I can send you some materials I use for sight-singing training and a description. If sight-singing training is just "part of the warm-ups" with no emotional overtones, how can a reasonable singer have a problem with increasing their skills? (You need your pastor on board with you, of course!)
  • music123
    Posts: 98
    Thank you, Patricia Cecilia, for the input. I will check those links out. I hadn't really thought about the Kodaly syllables, mainly because I'm not too familiar with them myself.

    This is my adult choir I am talking about, most of whom are over 60 (I'm 32-one of the reasons the choir has been at times a bit reluctant). When I started a year ago, I got LOUD objections when we would try to sing "too high," meaning above, say, a treble clef fourth-space C! They've come a LONG way, but sometimes I'm still a little scared to introduce new things.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Use rhythmic training as part of the choir's warm-up. Don't use pitches during this because that requires "dual processing." They can clap, stomp, bang on the cover of the book. Start with a single line of rhythms. As they progress, you can split them up into parts and have multiple lines going. I've used the Rhythm Machine at the Practice Spot.

    Never do too much at a single rehearsal - and always let them finish up sucessfully.

    And yes, they'll all complain that they're too tired. However, the combination of physical and mental activity will liven them up for the rest of the rehearsal.
  • music123
    Posts: 98
    Thanks everyone. I was thinking along the lines of some kind of worksheets, and the Rhythm Machine does look like it might fit the bill! I was trying to do a search on the Internet, but it seems like all I could come up with were music ed lesson plans involving kids lying on the floor, listening to hip-hop music, and writing down how it makes them feel! Goofy stuff out there....
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    I used Starer's book in conservatory (about the time staff notation was invented) and it was great. However, it's not for the faint-hearted.