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Laurie Niles


April 21, 2007 at 6:17 PM

In 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!”

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on April 22, 2007 at 5:07 AM
You're doing a good job of spreading harmony, Laurie.
From Rick Savadow
Posted on April 22, 2007 at 3:27 PM
Ohhhh, so right. Harmony is when the notes 'get along'. Dissonance is when notes that don't get along find a different way to work together. Music heals. The world needs more music and more wise people like your young student. Thanks for sharing that with us Laurie.
From Teresa Colombo
Posted on April 22, 2007 at 4:58 PM
Nice!!!! ..... I'll have to use that one in violin group class next week!
From Maura Gerety
Posted on April 22, 2007 at 9:46 PM
But Rick, dissonances are only the more remote consonances. :)
From Anne Horvath
Posted on April 23, 2007 at 1:25 AM
It is always moments like these that make teaching violin SO MUCH FUN. Hooray for harmony!
From Karin Lin
Posted on April 23, 2007 at 4:09 PM
Laurie, you are such a wonderful teacher. :)

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