Solfege forms one of the components of music training with the Dalcroze approach. As we discussed in our previous blog post, music training with solfege follows the french way of calling the alphabet letters used in reading music. In English of course we call the names of the notes on the piano as C, D, E, F, G, A, B and then C again. In Solfege, the notes are called Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do. And I was delighted to see when I discovered this toy xylophone in Hong Kong that had the solfege syllables written on it using the Japanese characters Katakana writing that said Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, Ra (for La), Te (for Ti) and Do.
It can be surprising just what 3yrs – 5 yrs are capable of understanding and learning. It has been said that preschoolers are “like a sponge” and can absorb information, including languages, and music, so much easier than adults can. It is important at this early stage to explore pitch with the young children and with solfege you can make pitch training fun with the use of games and movement.
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Along with naming the notes, solfege training incorporates aspects of Kodaly with the use of the hand signs popularised by John Curwen. I am very fond of kinaesthetic approaches to learning and was so pleased to discover these hand signs. The posters that I like to use in my classes are from Lindsay Jervis and are available from the Teachers website if you click on the image above. The handsigns are a fun way to use interval training, by moving our hands up the higher up in pitch we go, and moving our hands down as we go down in pitch. I know for myself I found it helped significantly for me to get to grips with pitch. And even though we are taking piano lessons and not singing lessons, pitch training is a vital part of our piano lessons as it is something you will be tested on “aural tests” when you sit your graded piano exam with ABRSM.