April 21, 2007 at 6:17 PMIn order for my first-grade violin kids to play in the school's “Cinco de Mayo” celebration, I'm having them play some mariachi harmony to a song that everyone else will sing, “Cielito Lindo.”
So we sang the song, many times. Some of the kids know Spanish, many don't, but we all now know this song.
Then I played them their part, which I created to showcase two of the notes they are (becoming) capable of playing, an open A and a B.
“What is it called, when we play something different then the song, but it goes along with it really well?” I asked.
Blank looks. Tentative hands.
“Tune?” asked a little girl.
“Well, the tune is the song. Anyone?”
“Quartet?” asked a boy.
“A quartet does play different parts....”
This wasn't getting anywhere, but I decided to keep being Socratic.
“Does anyone know what the word 'harmony' means?”
A little girl's hand shot up in the back, “Oooo!” So I called on her.
“It means when people get along!” she said proudly.
I grinned. “It sure does!” I laughed. “And it's also when notes get along and sound good together. Let's just play!”
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