Moveable Do vs. Fixed Do vs. A,B,C's

June 8, 2007 at 06:09 PM · In response to Al and Kimberlee but for everyone...

I've been having issues with what I think would be the best way to learn notes on the violin.

I began with All for Strings and learned note reading through their with my beginning teacher (public school, 11 years old).

I was one of the kids who was able to get it, since I think I lean towards the mathematical and scientific thinking.

We didn't really talk about solfege too much, I got that from chorus and a little from general music, but we used A,B,C since my first day playing violin.

When I was in Spain, my teacher used fixed do to teach the notes. When I thought about it...I felt like using fixed do to teach notes, rather than ABC makes more sense, although I think being able to understand and use moveable do is just as important (one for note names, one for understanding interval relationships and aiding in transposition). Maybe using one system of do over the other, (teacher's choice I guess) but using either one of them over the A,B,C's would be better?

My reasoning is also influenced from a workshop I saw by Laurie P. Scott from UT at Austin... "Teaching Fingerboard Geography Without the Keyboard Detour."

It made so much sense! So then I was thinking, could using "A, B, C" all be a detour to learning the pitches? Think of how many children confuse C, and C#...and then don't understand Cb and why it's different, even though they're all C's...and it takes them a while to get used to why the alphabet they're used to using does not go on past G and has all these #, naturals, and b's...

Plus when you learn about the way kids are cognitively developing and think, and about when they are able to think abstractly (usually around or after the age of 10 I think), it makes it seem like the A,B,C's would ONLY work really well for a few people, and depend on their age of when learning the violin.

When my boyfriend and I were in Europe, we'd constantly debate about the use of moveable, fixed, and ABCs. We were wondering, could the European "system" of teaching the note names and the conservatory model be a more thorough way of teaching the notes to students? Could the A,B,C's be a downfall of things like public music education in the States? Not to mention the use of "D-1 for E, D-2 for F" and other short hand ways that I've seen, referring to open string and finger numbers rather than the actual pitch.

I in NO WAY mean to bash the American public education system, I intend to be a part of it at one point and student teach in the fall, but I feel like this is something very important to consider before going out and teaching, beginners especially, privately or in public school.

I'd love to know what you all think!



Replies (79)

June 9, 2007 at 10:51 AM · thank you jessie for starting this thread. it is interesting to me for practical reasons, thus my question on how to learn both and when to me it sounds like you have to know both sooner or later, like learning 2 languages/dialects:)

is it possible that the one vs the other is not as much a nationalistic difference in approach as in the difference in each teacher's style ( how they have learned it as a student)? if you look at the US alone, teachers are from all over...

we read that it is better to first sing the music in our head before attempting it on the violin, i wonder how do people sing it,,,,using lalala, dadada, doremi, or what? :)

June 9, 2007 at 02:49 PM · Solfege always escaped me because when I started learning piano at age 7 I learned the names of the notes. At 9 when I started violin I already knew how to read music and I had a piano keyboard in my head which told me how far the notes were from one another--so I don't really get the point.

June 9, 2007 at 07:39 PM · Jay -

Solfege is like learning nonsense syllables for pitches. What it does is then the syllables, "do, re, mi" etc. are used just to refer to pitches, rather than relying on a system that's really something else, ie. A, B, C.

Fixed Do is like teaching each syllable is a pitch class (example, do is always a is always a d). This aids in the recognition of the pitches and can lead to very strong relative pitch, and is very useful for those who have perfect pitch I'm guessing (I don't have it, but I bet if you hear something and always know what it is, it can be a pain to always transpose it).

Movable Do emphasizes learning the interval relationships. In the key of F, F is do, G is the key of Bb, Bb is do, C is re, etc., and each scale degree has a particular sound of the size of half steps, even though in other keys it's different pitches. You learn the solfege recognizing the intervals. It facilitates the recognition of a melodic line, progressions and everything as scale degrees within a key, just maybe not the key itself (unless someone has perfect pitch or extremely good relative pitch). For example, I could sit on the Madrid or Berlin subway system, and hear that one is a major third, and the other is a minor third...but I'm not exactly sure what pitches they really are, just the interval.

A, B, C is taking something familiar and unrelated (the alphabet) and modifying it to symbolize the meaning of a sound. I guess in a way it's more related to the fixed do, but not too directly. Although I learned this way, and I understood it and I see that it can work, I can't really pick out what's particularly useful about it, other than trying to use something someone is familiar with (but then using it in a different way, so sometimes that can be confusing).

Obviously, when playing in an orchestra and community orchestras, or with other people of other backgrounds, it's important to know all three, because stand partners, ensemble members, and conductors may be apt to refer to a pitch in any one of the three ways and you should be able to know what they're referring to and vice versa.

It is like learning languages or dialects, and say if you live in some place that has a high level of speakers of two or three languages, it's incredibly useful to know as much as you can!

So I guess I could say I'm trying to figure out, is or could there be an advantage to having one of the methods be the "first language" or ONE of the first languages of learning notes?

I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong answer, but no matter what, it's still worth the debate!

June 10, 2007 at 04:51 PM · in Soviet Union we learned fixed Do etc.

It worked for me just great. When I came to the US, I found the movable Do and A,B,C system(s) ridiculous.

June 10, 2007 at 08:08 PM · My daughter's (Croatian) piano teacher uses fixed Do, and she seems to have responded pretty well to that so far. However, she hasn't really gotten to what to call the black keys for pieces not in C major. Her teacher said that F# was also "fa," but she already had it in her head that F was "fa" and was confused by calling the black key fa also. So I said, okay, just call it "F#" and she does.

On violin, she is using Adventures in Violinland, and the second book, called "Do Re Mi" starts on the G string, and calls G "do." I'm not sure where she is taking that, but it seems to be leading her a good place, in that she understands now that any of the 4 strings could be Do. And I think that could lead pretty easily to the idea that any note could be Do, and then to a better understanding of the concept of keys than she currently has.

I, unfortunately, learned DDAA11A 332211D in public school when I started "twinkling" in 4th grade, and I'm afraid that first position violin fingerings will always be my mother tongue--even when I sing, play the piano, or play the viola (all of which I do in addition to violin).

June 10, 2007 at 09:20 PM · I grew up learning a few different instruments, before choosing "the one", and the notes were always taught as letters A to G. I had learned that do re mi was an "old fashioned" way of learning the scale in a simple way. So, "do" was the tonic of the scale - it could be, C, D, E, whatever.

I thought nothing more about it until a couple of years ago, when my young daughter started learning violin in China. The Chinese use only do re mi, and only the symphony players knew the notes could be also noted as A B C.

At first I was against the do re mi system, as I was worried it would confuse my daughter. But, then I met fortuitously an opera trained singer and instructor. She explained the advantages of the "fixed" do re mi, and then all became clear to me why it should be used for violinists.

Using a piano, when do = middle C only (ie fixed), then this tone can be ingrained into memory, and the musically gifted can sing this tone in perfect pitch at any time. Then the scale is memorised, over the entire range of the voice (or instrument). This then trains the voice and ear to recognise the perfect pitch of do re mi fa so la ti do.

When applied to violin, it means each note is sung in the head as a do, or la, or mi, etc, and thus aids the student to play the correct intonation on violin. This aids in intervals especially.

The proof is in the pudding. My daughter is learning pitch intonation much faster than I did at her age. She is learning the alpha too, which is by comparison easier.

So, now I advocate a "fixed" do re mi as a primary learning tool. The alpha is secondary.

of course, others may differ.

June 11, 2007 at 12:00 AM · I still don't understand the advantage of fixed DO over ABC since both are a fixed system what's the difference of what you call it?

June 11, 2007 at 01:58 AM · I'm a graduate of Mannes, which may be among the most European of American conservatories in terms of its serious and thorough curriculum of theory, ear training - and solfege. (fixed do) We ended up having to solfege in 7 different cleffs!

I must say, though, that I was never a fan of solfege. I personally didn't find it particularly applicable to other musical skills. For example, it never helped me learn to play the viola (-I'm a violinist-) from music. Compared to say, baritone cleff, solfegging in alto cleff was pretty easy. But it had nothing to do with putting the right finger on the right string, in the right position on the viola.

June 11, 2007 at 02:00 AM · I don't get it either. I don't get it at all. I had a semester, maybe even two, of ear training, but my only exposure to solfege was singing scales in choir in elementary and jr high. If that was solfege, I guess it was movable, because we'd go up a step and start over with Do.

For recognizing intervals, I would imagine violin fingering for the interval and hear it that way. I would do dictation like that too. I could also hear anything melodic and play it by ear like that, as long as I could remember it. No need for anything called solfege that I can see. For theory of course, everything was ABC.

On the other hand, if you were a singer and had no point of reference like an instrument, and wanted to sight-sing, then sure, maybe.

June 11, 2007 at 02:06 AM · In P.R. China, I learned fixed Do for violin playing, must be the Soviet Union influence, Gennady! It works great on violin, as you get fixed notes and fixed spots on the fingerboard. But this is not so with voice, I think. I also learned the movable Do for singing. I can refer to the A,B,C thing with most North American musicians, but I can’t associate the relative pitches with A,B,C as I could with Do, Re, Me, especially the movable Do.

June 11, 2007 at 09:24 AM · Jim, you put the cart before the horse when you look at it that way, since you already know your instrument and have an idea of the pitch in mind when you think of the kinesthetic stimulus of finger placement. If you'd never played an instrument, and you were looking at notes and placing the fingers where you thought they should go, only your ear will tell you if you found the right spot. You can only judge it properly if your ear knows what it's supposed to sound like. Lots of my students would put a finger in place and have no idea if it was right or not.

Some students will pick up on their location in the scale fairly quickly. These are the ones that are said to have a good ear. For those students who have no clue what their notes should sound like, some sort of "ear compass" must be created. That's what solfege is useful for. It associates sounds with particular names that identify their location in the scale. In the moveable do system, a half step always lies between mi and fa, and between ti and do.

Each note in the scale has specific characteristics. The better you know them, the more in tune you can play them. It's kinda like learning a person's name and finding out all about who they are and what they do. Then, when someone mentions their name later, you recall all the things you know about that person.

I get a lot of kids who get lost in their scale and end up in other keys. It's as though they cannot hear when the note they play doesn't fit into the piece. Rather than address the issue superficially (i.e. "High second! Low first!"), I want them to understand what it sounds like and why it sounds like it does.

I'm guessing you see no need for it because you already had the ability to hear all this in your head. Some kids don't need much training at all in this area, but if you've ever had a so-called tone deaf student, you might see how this system helps them out.

June 11, 2007 at 01:22 PM · Rapheal, that brings up another point that my boyfriend and I would argue...

It stems from his guitar teacher in Spain being annoyed that solfege and especially him as guitar player, harmony, were not applied to the instruments as much.

Granted, piano is a huge player in the classical music world, and as an education major I understand the importance to learn it, but I feel like it's just as important to apply those skills to violin.

My issue with singing solfege was that I have a small singing range, and I can't sing very well, even though I can hear the pitches. It's like I can hear the notes, but my vocal chords won't do it.

Oh, and about people with fixed do beginning memorizing the pitches with a string player, I've always found it pretty easy to recognize A, or any of the open strings.

When I'd do dictation, it's as if part of me would recognize it aurally, I'd think of the finger placement, but I can almost have this sensation of the note vibrating in my head (does anyone else get this? I notice it even more when I switch to viola, how the pitches vibrate against your head...I'm definitely a kinesthetic learner!)

June 11, 2007 at 02:35 PM · I LOVE solfege (moveable do). I understand it doesn't work for everyone, and some people will find it ridiculous, but for others, it opens up a new world. I had a hard time sight-reading until I learned it. The rote memorization of note names and keys meant nothing--my mind just doesn't operate that way. I needed to be able to look at some sheet music and know what it was saying without the aid of an instrument. I had to hear it in my head first. Solfege helped me do that.

Solfege gave me the understanding of intervals I needed. Without a good understanding of intervals and how those intervals relate to the fingerboard, sight-reading was incredibly slow. Once I learned those intervals, sight reading was so much easier. It's like a map for my fingers and all I have to do is follow the path.

Moveable do? Glad I learned that way--it's helping me transpose most of the Kreutzer etudes into whatever key I want (new experiment that may end badly--doesn't work for #30).

I'm sure it's just another way around the same issue and other people have found ways to manage just fine without solfege, but I couldn't grasp those other ways, so I'm glad there was solfege.

June 11, 2007 at 03:59 PM · ok, enough is enough:)

for practicality, lets look at something i just randomly googled and please share with us, upon seeing it for the first time (i hope:), how do you go about playing it...

do you immediately recognize all the notes and just go for it in a reflex, like driving your car? (since this is, i sure hope so:)

do you first sing it inside?

do you doremi it? abc it?

how do you teach to your student if it is her/his first time seeing it?

jessie, since you are definitely a kinesthetic learner, whatever that means, you start:)

June 11, 2007 at 05:07 PM · I would say I sing it inside (if you mean, I hear the pitches in my head...or imagine the sensation of playing it on the violin), and I imagine what my fingers would be doing.

I'm starting to think that solfege, for me, is more of an aural experience...when I hear something, I'll try to pick out solfege (in moveable do) for the intervals...but I'll just think of the sound, no names for the sounds, when I'm glancing over a piece of sheet music.

"how do you teach to your student if it is her/his first time seeing it?"

hmmm, I'd probably divide it into chunks, and do some isolation of pitches and rhythm (especially because it's a blues and 8th notes are swung, and there's a decent amount of accidentals). Make sure the student recognized the key signature and meter. Maybe even do a slow play through first, to see what the student is having problems with.

I don't know if I can answer right now which pitch system I'd use, just because I think it'd depend on if the student began with me, or if had studied through school or with someone else before.

Even though I am in the habit of referencing the notes by alpha names (ie. in a quartet rehearsal, I'll ask "do you have an A or an Ab")...

I'm still wrestling with the idea of how I'd want to teach. I'm thinking begin with fixed do, with the intentions of having them know what movable do is also and using that for recognizing intervals within scale degrees (at least a couple years down the road).

Even though using a mix of alpha and movable "do" avoids the confusion of "do" eventually having two meanings, I think the alpha creates confusion of something that, to a young child, isn't related to a sound or pitch, rather to words and speech, and especially for children who are special learners (dyslexic, etc), I think using A-G can confuse them more.

Next person! :)

June 11, 2007 at 08:47 PM · Good answer, Jesse. I don't know why I'm trying to tackle this, but because Al is a favorite, I'll give it a go.

Al--MOVEABLE Do Re Mi is a system (I didn't learn fixed do--the moveable system is what has helped me) which teaches the mind and body to integrate pitch recognition (visually, auditorilly, kinesthetically) into a physical reproduction of sound. That is essentially what you do when you sing. You hear a pitch in your head first, and then you produce it. There are many variables in this process, which is why some people are "tone deaf." Sometimes they haven't developed the capacity to differentiate pitches. Kind-of like a baby who can't quite hear the difference between "b" and "d". Or they could have "perfect pitch" and be able to recognize every tone, but not be able to produce the sound vocally. Everyone is somewhere along in the continuum of pitch understanding and reproduction.

Solfege is ONE way of helping an individual improve their ability to understand pitches and to reproduce them physically (but you have to do the hand signals--it doesn't work as well without doing that). The problem with introducing note reading as individual notes, per se, without establishing an understanding of intervals (the distance between notes) is that pitches have their meaning in the way they relate to one another--like, light doesn't mean much without dark, and transluscent, hazy, gauzy are all words which start to develop our understanding of "what kind of light." In musical terms, C is just fine, but when it's in relation to G or a CEGBb, that really starts to mean something.

So, back to solfege as a practical study. Let's keep this in the key of C, just to make things easier. When you look at a piece of music, and you see a note on a space and another note on a space above, and there is one space separating the two, or you see a note on a line and the next note is on the line with a line in between, your fingers automatically know it's going to be an 0-0 or 1-1 or 2-2 or 3-3 or a 4-4 (because that's the visual representation of a perfect fifth). AND, because you've trained your ear to know what a fifth sounds like (do-so,fa-do or mi-ti), you know how it sounds too! (twinkle twinkle is a good example of this interval) When you get really good, you can train yourself to hear major sevenths, minor sixths, strange jumps, moving tones not in the chord structure etc..

Bam, and you're off to the races. Instead of looking at each individual note, you're looking at patterns of notes which correspond to patterns of fingers which correspond to patterns of sound. And, I hope I didn't just massacre the philosophy of solfege.

Okay, so lets say you wanted to start teaching this to your daughter. First step. Teach her "chocolate treats" the interval is the same as the first two notes of twinkle "chocolate treats, chocolate treats, oompa loompa oompa loompa chocolate treats." Do So Do, Do So Do, Do Do Do Do, So So So So, Do So Do. Use the hand signs. Then play around with it. Move the do, and see if she can sing the so, or move the so and see if she can sing the do. Make up some more songs (maybe--Pizza Pie for do-mi) to teach Do to Mi, Do to Do, Do to Fa, Do to La, Do to Re, Do to Ti. Then start with the tougher stuff--Mi to So, Mi to Re, Mi to La, Mi to Ti etc., work all the combinations. You can add the visuals whenever you want.

I have a big staff on my floor that I made with black electrical tape. When I introduce the visuals, we stand on the big staff and sing the notes as we jump to them. I give them the "do" note and then I move it (maybe do is "g" and then maybe it's d#, wherever you want it to be). I play games with them. I show them where do is and then I'll jump to the so and they have to sing what I jumped to, or they jump and I have to sing the note they jumped to. After my students have the basic idea, it doesn't take them long to figure out the solfege version of Twinkle Twinkle: do do so so la la so fa fa mi mi re re do etc.. Then I test them. I get out their sight reading books, tune a day, daily dozen, what have you and I have them solfege it for me. Better make sure you give them studies that start on a Do to begin with (i.e. the study starts on a C in the key of C or starts on a D in the key of D etc.-- twinkle starts on the do, but go tell aunt rhody starts on the mi) There you go--does that give you a start?

The point is, you're learning to recognize the intervals, reproduce the intervals, recognize what they look like visually and then reproduce them from a visual cue. Like I said, though, there's more than one way to skin a cat.

June 11, 2007 at 06:30 PM · thanks jessie and esp kimberlee for that detailed explanation. let me clear my head later and read it carefully:) you guys are the pride of the summer to come:):)

June 11, 2007 at 06:47 PM · Oh boy, I hope I don't have to take responsibility for THAT! :)

I don't do enough solfege with my students (not enough hours in the day), but when I do, they love it. It's a good thinking game--like chess or mastermind. I'll say--let's see how good you are, and I'll do the hand signals of do ti do or do fa so or whatever, and they have to sing back what I just signed. Or, I'll sing the mi and ask them to find and sing the so etc. Maybe I'll sign out the first few measures of one of the songs they're working on and see if they can guess which one it is. Solfege is fun. After a while, it starts coming out on the instrument, and before you know it, your hand knows exactly where to find the pitches on your fingerboard just like your hands know where to find fa and la when you're doing solfege. Your mind knows already what first finger on the A string up to high 3 on the E sounds like before you have to play it.

June 11, 2007 at 06:46 PM · Not all of Europe uses do re mi, Northern Europe uses ABC as note names.Having worked with both systems I can honestly say there is no difference what you call the notes,it could be bim,bam,bum what is important is the sound that you hear in your head in response to the printed symbol.The moveable do is another concept entirely where the tonic of a scale is always do.This makes the early stages very easy as the open strings are do and the tone and semitone patterns are learnt from there.Curwen and Kodaly did a lot of work with the moveable do and the 'Colourstrings' by the Silvay brothers is based on this concept as is I believe the Shirley Givens method.Those of us that work in countries with a fixed do cannot use the moveable do system so need to invent other methods of establishing the progression of a scale.It could even be numerical!

June 11, 2007 at 07:39 PM · Emily, that's an interesting point. I was just now trying to think of where I initially got the sound of intervals and scales in my head. I couldn't really say, but it might have been the choir exercises I mentioned. Hmmmm. Or, since before that as a little kid I could learn songs from hearing them and sing them back, maybe the choir exercise were unnecessary from that point of view. There was no note name association at the time in either case, but later I think I must have made the jump somehow from the sounds to what they looked like. Are you saying your solfege kids can actually sight-sing from sheet music better than they can play, so that that's leading the way? Still the question of why Raphael doesn't see the applicability though.

June 11, 2007 at 11:54 PM · In my mind, the difficulty of any fixed system is the smaller emphasis on interval recognition and scale construction. A movable do system addresses pitch relationships. Pitch recognition is important, but the way the notes stand individually is not as powerful as how they relate to each other--especially in the context of a scale or chord structure. Perfect relative pitch is infinitely more useful than perfect pitch, imho--though the perfect pitch sure comes in handy . . . on second thought . . . if you're learning to have perfect pitch using a fixed system, I'd stick with that!

Al--speaking practically, notice that most everyone on this thread came at note reading in a different way? Some of my students don't take to sight-singing, and I have to regroup and give them something else--rote memorizations, piano, scales or hit my friends up for ideas :) I hope I'll just stick with it and help them succeed in whatever way they need to learn. So, maybe your daughter will take to this, maybe not. Point is to try everything and keep going.

June 11, 2007 at 08:54 PM · Jim, did you sing a lot as a little kid?

June 11, 2007 at 10:09 PM · I taught theory and solfege/ear training at the college level and, for the life of me, see no practical advantage to a movable Do. If one is having difficulty recognizing intervals in fixed Do, then it is likely that the problem is not which system is being used but that the individual is simply having a problem recognizing intervals.

June 11, 2007 at 10:18 PM · I have heard many arguments for all three approaches to singing... my experiences are with movable and fixed solfege syllables.

At Ithaca College, sight-singing and theory classes use movable "do". I think that this is a more technical approach to sight-singing as it requires quick thinking in regards to modulations vs. tonicizations, and employs chromatic syllables which in my opinion help students develop good relative pitch significantly faster than fixed "do".

Fixed "do" is by far the more commonly accepted system. If you are looking to ever leave this country, you should be familiar with fixed “do”. As I said, sight-singing and theory classes at Ithaca use movable, but conducting classes are currently using fixed “do”, mainly because of it’s universal acceptance. My only complaint regarding fixed “do” is that it often does not employ chromatic syllables, which I feel are essential for lower-mid level students in order to develop interval realization quickly. Using accidental modifiers (do-flat, re-sharp”) can remedy this, but to my knowledge they are not universal yet. In my opinion, there is something disturbing about singing “re-re” and hearing a half or even whole step between the pitches.

In my opinion, movable “do” is a great way to start students with sightsinging. The obvious disadvantage is that as soon as they start running into atonality or need to simply read something quickly perhaps for intonation work, tonic goes right out the window.

Schools such as Ithaca College and Oberlin are beginning to use both solfege systems and I think that is in the future of sightsinging/theory.

Just my $ .02..

June 11, 2007 at 10:59 PM · This is interesting to me because my daughter's teacher wants me to start teaching my daughter solfiege. The teacher, from what I understand, wants her to start with fixed do, then move on to moveable do... I think it is for intervals.

I think anyone who is going to go on in college into any field in music needs to do solfeige in order to pass that gastly BMSA test. Many college students come unprepared when it comes to theory or sight reading... I know ... I was one of them and I know for a fact.. if there were BMSA testing when I was in college, I would fail miserably.. just like my spelling : (

June 12, 2007 at 12:10 AM · Joey--Okay, my mistake. A fixed system didn't help ME really understand my intervals. I didn't "get it" until I understood that the same fingerings, same rules applied regardless of the key. I got tripped up thinking of key signatures and individual notes. I was listening for that C or that Ab--listening for the notes themselves rather than listening for patterns. When it came to reading, I didn't know how to look for the patterns because I was so involved in thinking of the correct note name. Movable Do really underscored the patterns for me. I guess I'm not too bright, but I persisted and figured it out okay. What did you do to help students who're like me?

As I said earlier, everyone comes at this from a different angle, and I shouldn't have insinuated a hierarchy.

June 12, 2007 at 03:29 AM · Gosh, I'm feeling really ignorant having wandered into this thread. I didn't learn with any kind of Do system (other than hearing Julie Andrews sing Do Re Mi). I just learned ABC etc and worked out the rest myself. I did have aural training but it was not Do Re Mi. I can pretty much hear the music in my head when I look at a new score, but I wouldn't want to be tested in it by singing it aloud (for instance singing aloud a new violin solo line such as a few measures of a concerto that I hadn't seen before, though obviously simple melodies such as based on arpeggios etc would be easier).

I think fixed Do and movable Do are great for those who have been really helped by it. I don't think I could teach it myself. Is there still a place for me in teaching? Just as an aside, I do know that at least one famous violinist, possibly it was Eugene Ysaye, couldn't stand Solfege and had no time for it. But that was just him.

June 12, 2007 at 03:24 AM · I'm shocked. Ysaye? I'm never playing his music ever again :) tee hee hee. Whatever. Whatever you need to play the notes on the page. I agree with Ysaye--he didn't have time for solfege.

June 12, 2007 at 01:16 AM · Still, reading what Emily and Buri wrote, I'd be interested in looking into solfege a bit more, for teaching purposes.

June 12, 2007 at 06:06 AM · Ian wrote

My only complaint regarding fixed “do” is that it often does not employ chromatic syllables, which I feel are essential for lower-mid level students in order to develop interval realization quickly. Using accidental modifiers (do-flat, re-sharp”) can remedy this, but to my knowledge they are not universal yet. In my opinion, there is something disturbing about singing “re-re” and hearing a half or even whole step between the pitches.

I also share your perplexity.I came from ABC to a country where fixed DO is the norm ...and it still doesn't come naturally to me even after many years. I guess what you learn as a kid tends to stick .... and my way of hearing intervals was always to see a piano key-board.(I am a violinist and grew up in UK). I actually have nothing verbal that conjures up an interval picture in my mind.

(but I am also very intrested in how different people have learned to see and hear intervals.)

On the funny side ...I just did a course for teaching young children, and I put the question of the accidental modifiers to the teacher, who informed me that in their school they do use them, for the early years of solfege instruction.

So, a '#'is 'diesis' and 'b' is bemolle in Italian, ...and so your c# becomes dod, and your cb becomes dob. So, for a whole bunch of G-sharps, you get...?

SOD SOD SOD SOD SOD SOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 12, 2007 at 12:44 PM · Yeah, it was strange when I was taking lessons in Spain, using fixed do. Fine for me when she's talking about C, or E.

For some reason Si stands for B, or "ti" in a major C scale.

Teresa, like you, in New York, I began with ABCs and imagining the intervals on the piano and then being placed onto the violin. I've tried to rid myself of that since I saw that lecture on avoiding the Keyboard detour for Fingerboard Harmony.

I guess in my future teaching, I'd only reference the piano for those things if the student took piano already...otherwise it's a heavy and somewhat confusing task to try and teach an unfamiliar (the violin) with an unfamiliar (the piano).

June 12, 2007 at 06:29 PM · I'm with you, Jesse. I'd rather not take the keyboard detour. But, I'm wondering if the reason we use the piano as our "theory" instrument is because double stops/chords practice is a technically advanced skill on the violin (as compared to the piano). It wasn't until I started getting proficient with my Flesch scales that all the applicable theory really started falling into place. Did anyone else have that experience?

June 12, 2007 at 05:36 PM · Hey Joey, in your experiences, have you worked with many "tone deaf" students, or ones who have a difficult time matching pitches and knowing which direction to go?

June 12, 2007 at 06:47 PM · Kimberlee...

Once I began doing the Flesch scale packages, some things did start to make sense. It hit me one day how the chord progression with the arpeggios worked and I was like...

so THIS is how harmony and theory can work on the violin!

Also the circle of fifths (or fourths, or however you view it), which made sense to me in high school when the teachers had us play a few scales in the circle, but it was more on a surface level and just by telling how it sounded. Later the theory made a lot more sense.

June 12, 2007 at 07:33 PM · Hi,

I am more in favour of fixed rather than moveable DO (with solfège syllables to go with it). Most of the difference between European (or even teaching in Québec, Canada) happens from the fact that ear-training through solfège and dictation starts at a much earlier age than elsewhere (including the U.S. and English Canada). Perhaps that is where the benefits come from.

That said, it may help with intonation and sight-reading, but learning to hear "in tune" on the violin is a whole different ball-game. Though in some individuals it can be related, in others, it is not. That said, there is certainly more good than harm though to be gained from an earlier start to training in this regard.


June 12, 2007 at 11:38 PM · Keeping in ind that I'm not a great fan of ANY solfege system, we were brainwashed at Mannes that fixed do = good; moveable = bad. I personally can see the point of moveable do in learning to quickly identify scale relationships. (For those not familiar, in fixed do, do is always C, re is always D, etc. In moveable do, do stands for the tonic, re for the supertonic, etc. So that in the key of Eb, do is Eb, re is F.) But as was pointed out, what do you do in atonal music? Or in a tonal piece that starts to transpose to another key, what do you do in the transitional section?

June 13, 2007 at 12:50 AM · In my choir class last year, we did scales by singing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (1 being the first note and 8 being the octave) , and then tried singing 1, 1 2 1, 1 2 3 2 1, etc and then 8, 8 7 8, 8 7 6 7 8, etc and then random intervals. It helps with the scale relationships, but does nothing for note recognition (finding a note out of the air). I can find notes better just by looking at the music and thinking of the pitch than by a moveable system.

June 13, 2007 at 12:57 AM · “But as was pointed out, what do you do in atonal music? Or in a tonal piece that starts to transpose to another key, what do you do in the transitional section”

I’ve learned both fixed and moveable in China as a child and sometimes I do have some problem with singing the scale clearly in my head when it comes to transitional sections as well as something like the diminished seventh chords. But I think when I play these parts in tune for awhile, the scale relationship does eventually appear my head by itself. In a way it's like some of us can see patterns of a human face or a animal shape on random cracks on the floor after we staring at them long enough.

June 13, 2007 at 02:39 AM · Rapheal,

I'm curious to know what system you would use to teach notes? I think in my original question, I wasn't thinking teaching solfege as much, but as how one would refer to a pitch when teaching it on the violin.

So forget about the act of sight singing and solfege like is done in a conservatory or music school, and rather how would you teach a student to refer to the pitches only applying them to the violin rather than singing?

I should have been clearer initially, although I feel like this has been a decent discussion!

June 13, 2007 at 05:17 AM · I used to use a.b,c. But I would quickly coordinate this with where the notes lie on the fingerboard. However, I'm not the best one to ask about this, as I haven't taught beginners in a long time.

June 13, 2007 at 11:58 PM · Hi Kimberlee,

It's nice to meet someone who likes to do solfege! Most musicians I know didn't take this skill with them after they left school, unfortunately.

I think movable Do makes things more complicated, and, personally, it's not worth the effort to learn and apply. And, as fond as I am of it and enthusiastically recommend one and all to acquire and cultivate it, it is possible to improve on the violin without it. Of all the disciplines that one learns in music school I think theory is much more important since it has a direct bearing on one's work as an interpreter.

Best regards,


June 14, 2007 at 01:22 AM · Hi Emily,

When I taught ear training in music school to performance majors I was quite surprised at some of the problems the students were having. None to my recollection were tone deaf, but there was one particular difficulty several of them struggled with, and that was the inability to differentiate between a perfect fifth/perfect fourth and an octave (when played together, not one at a time)!

Major/minor 3rd and 6ths are the most difficult to identify immediately (when played together), and as with anything else, the remedy is drills, drills, drills!

Best wishes,


June 14, 2007 at 01:24 AM · Regarding atonal melodies(?) for solfege, we used something called Modus Novus when I was a student. It was very helpful, probably even more helpful than tonal melodies since one really had to hear intervals without benefit of a tonal center.

June 14, 2007 at 02:34 AM · Hi Joey. I've heard great things about you as teacher! At Mannes we used Modus Novus, too. I liked it - in a vitamins sort of way. I also used to find it helpful to play some of those longer excerpts on my violin.

June 14, 2007 at 03:52 AM · Joey and Raphael...

at Crane we used movable do.

Can either/both of you explain the Modus Novus?

June 14, 2007 at 01:17 PM · Just and opinion: I think there is an advantage of knowing both because the solfege is about hearing and knowing the pattern of intervals vs reading notes. When you sing the notes in sight singing you have to flag the sharps and flats which becomes about the notes. In some counties in Europe you learn both and it is great for theory and sight singing. I learned solfege and sight singing as a child and it really helped me (from my European teachers) and was worried when my son, a violin student was not being taught solfege. It also helps throughout theory and composition if you choose to study that. Additionally, if you ever get into choral music and have to sing in a group it is great. I asked a friend who is an opera singer to each it to my son, and she said I should save the money and teach in to him myself. I went to the music store and found some great resources under choral music. I am currently working with my son on it for the summer. I know in Europe many schools require all children learn solfege.

June 14, 2007 at 06:31 PM · "Modus Novus", which, I believe means 'new mode' is a book, subtitled "studies in reading atonal melodies." There is text in English, German, and I think it's Swedish. It includes shorter and longer exercises and excerpts, difficult chords, etc. It's a good book for stretching the ears. The author is Lars Edlund. (Just pulled off my shelf for the first time in years!)

June 14, 2007 at 07:31 PM · This is an interesting discussion, and the theory equivalent of the shoulder rest war.

As a teacher of aural skills for the last 8 years, I could not disagree more with Joey. Even though I learned fixed-do at Peabody, I realized through teaching that the moveable-do system is inherently more flexible and has much greater value pedagogically. Yes, it may be a little more work to learn initially. What I find the most valuable about moveable-do is that it stresses not note names, but the the relationships within the key, something that fixed-do cannot. And it is these relationships that first-year music students need to learn. It really has little bearing on individual instruments and the learning of note names, but is a system that all students can use to understand fully the major and minor scales and arpeggios.

Here's an example of why moveable-do is so much easier: In that system, ti is always the leading tone, and ti-do is always a half-step. Now try transposing to a different key like A. The leading tone-tonic relationship is still ti-do. How about G-flat? Still ti-do. In fixed do, you have to think of the different syllables. And it really shouldn't be necessary to have different syllables for a leading tone because the actual key really doesn't matter. What matters is the idea of major or minor and where you are in the scale. And although some have complained that it's a "ridiculous" system, I suspect it's only due to unfamiliarity. What's ridiculous is any system that emphasizes individual note names over the more general tonal relationships. Using 1,2,3, for example, really does nothing to help students grasp the leading tone-tonic relationship. When I have the students sing for a test, I don't require them to start on a specific pitch. Because it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the relationships. If one student in class has a slightly higher voice than a classmate, they shouldn't have to transpose up or down a half step. I don't care where they start if the range is right for them. Only that they get the relationships.

I have seen a similar issue with teachers who teach that a cadential 6/4 chord should be labelled a I6-4, simply because they learned it that way. Which is simply wrong.

June 14, 2007 at 08:31 PM · This works well for countries where abc are the note names but for countries where do is a c it is impossible to implement a movable do.

June 14, 2007 at 11:48 PM · Hi Raphael,

Thank you for the kind words! It's always nice to meet (albeit in cyberspace) a colleague who hails from New York. I've been to your website. Great stuff!



June 15, 2007 at 12:17 AM · Hi Scott,

Though you make a good case for moveable Do, I still respectfully disagree. Learning intervallic relationships within a key belongs in the realm of theory, not solfege. Sight singing seems to me to be similar to sight reading; to be able to sing what is in front of you to know what it sounds like. If I need to analyze the melody then I am doing theory.

Best wishes,


June 15, 2007 at 04:15 AM · Joey,

One simply cannot separate theory from practice. They are one and the same. And yes, aural skills students are taught to sight-read, perhaps one of the most important skills a musician can have.

If you don't know the intervallic relationships, especially where the half steps are (and moveable-do beats this into your head because mi-fa and ti-da are ALWAYS half steps) then you are a musician who does not know the most basic building blocks of music. If you are analyzing a melody, it's not "theory"--it's what you should be doing unconciously.

Fixed-do is to sight-singing what roman numerals are to math: it can be made to work if that's all you know, but it won't take you to calculus.


June 15, 2007 at 04:32 AM · Hi Scott,

I agree wholeheartedly that knowing intervallic relationships is vital. Understanding and analyzing their function, however, is something other than sight singing.



June 15, 2007 at 04:52 AM ·

June 15, 2007 at 05:44 AM · I guess one advantage over fixed DO or moveable is that you can sing your note names.. does anyone ever try singing A B C etc? There was a Kato Havas video that had two violin students singing a Mozart violin sonata with the ABC system .... all I could think was ...what a mouthful!!! As far as I know in the UK most of us grew up just la la la-ing stuff. Kato Havas I believe, grew up with the Hungarian, Kodaly


I am always totally amazed at how people trained in fixed DO rattle off anything in solfege. Interestingly a friend of mine, can sing, from memory, the whole of Bach's E major partita in solfege ... yet complains she can't actually PLAY it from memory. Now why would that be? (we are talking about a competent violinist) Does this mean that fixed solfege can (in some cases for some people) be a purely intellectual thing, detached from music in some way? There is no way I can solfege quickly, even after many years..I am capable of solfeging my (for eg) Bach partita with all the wrong names (if I don't look at the part). Now if I have something in C maj or A minor I can do much better because I spent a year working through Kodaly vocal from where I am coming from, Kodaly makes enormous sense, and fixed DO remains elusive.

A question for Janet .... have you been able to 'transfer' to a fixed DO system without any trouble even though you grew up with ABC? (I am assuming you are not native to the fixed DO system)

This is a really interesting thread by the way ... I have been asking myself for years the value\advantage of one system over another. But as Janet says ... if your country has fixed DO as its system, it would be too confusing to experiment with the moveable DO

June 15, 2007 at 07:57 AM · We sing the note names, too, in my studio.

June 15, 2007 at 09:41 PM · Teresa having worked with the fixed do for 20 years I dont have any problems with it what I do find incredible is the Italian solfeggio as it is taught in the conservatories.Barking out note names at break neck speed and ignoring all accidentals does not lead to any level of musicianship and does indeed become a purely intellectual excercise hence your friend who can rattle out the note names but is unable to play from memory.If solfeggio is to make any sense at all the notes have to be sung so that the printed symbol is connected with a sound.However I find it much easier to establish the tones and semitones using do,re mi as a letter name is rather an abstract idea of the tonic so hence the whole scale structure and the intervals become more logical.

June 18, 2007 at 04:10 PM · Janet:

"what I do find incredible is the Italian solfeggio as it is taught in the conservatories.Barking out note names at break neck speed and ignoring all accidentals does not lead to any level of musicianship and does indeed become a purely intellectual excercise.."

Ahhhhh....., I had forgotten that it is 'spoken solfege' in the conservatories ..... do you know of any other country that does this? ...and WHAT is the point of spoken solfege, anyway???????? Surely there must be a point ....... ?

June 19, 2007 at 12:57 AM · This is such an interesting discussion. Has anyone else noticed this strange phenomena in their studio?:

Without wanting to categorize but realizing this is what I'm doing, and admitting this statement is inherently flawed, but wishing to state it anyway: I essentially see two types of students--the great sight-readers who have trouble memorizing and the great memorizers who have trouble sight-reading. Of course there are every sort-of exception, but if I were to name a weakness, I normally see it occurring in this particular pattern.

I only posited this erroneous generalization to make the point that people think differently. They have different strengths. I like to teach to their strengths. It works better and makes them happy with themselves. Reading this thread and listening to what you all have to say has taught me that moveable do doesn't work for everyone. It changes some people's lives (and I'm an example), but now I understand--it legitimately doesn't help everyone improve their violin skills. I'm grateful to have the knowlege (and the opportunity to learn from all of you) about how to introduce note reading in a helpful way to the many talented individuals who come into my life. They all have something to give. My challenge is to help them find the way. Every day, I wonder if I'm up to it. The highest and most difficult teaching principle I'm learning--don't teach the lesson, teach the child.

June 18, 2007 at 05:42 PM · Kimberly ...I have never thought about it before, but maybe I do see that sort of pattern .... and I am wondering if it has something to do with being a more auditory or visual learner???

June 19, 2007 at 01:38 AM · Very interesting observation, Kimberlee. I’m pretty good at memorizing but not so fast in sight-reading. I was taught with fixed do and later self-taught moveable do. I don’t know if this is correlated to memorization, but I suspect to some extent it does, so long as the piece is melodic. When it comes to something like Bach, I tend to also use other cues such as fingering, bowing and unique notes to aid my memory.

June 19, 2007 at 06:29 PM · Never mind.

June 19, 2007 at 06:30 PM · kimberlee!!!! Put the message back! You are always so thoughtful and full of great comments so keep them there please!

June 20, 2007 at 12:37 AM · Fixed Do, in my opinion, is the the most advantageous in the long run while ABC and moveable Do can only temporarily help speed up the learning process. I started out with fixed Do, but I've been with teachers who later tried to teach me ABC and moveable Do. The problem with moveable Do is that it can actually be harmful to a child's ability to recognize pitch. Do is Do and it sounds a certain way. When Re becomes Do, it is like saying blue is green and blue will always be blue, not green.

Music is like a language and when using CDEFGABC to learn the notes, it can be compared to someone who is trying to learn the pronounciation of a word in Chinese by using the English alphabet.By giving notes names that don't make any sense at first- Do, Re, Mi, Fa,etc. it is moste likely that a child will know that there's no connection between letters and notes and therefore will later be able to read music faster(without having to use FACE, and Every Good Boy Does Fine). I feel that I've benefited a lot from using fixed Do and I don't feel that moveable Do helped me with interval identification, sight singing, or dictation in anyway. Re to La is a perfect fifth. I think it is easier to know the actual notes and intervals than to say to my self, Re is Do and if Re is Do then that other note must be a Sol and Do to Sol is a fifth. Of course, I do believe that each of these systems has its advantages and shortcomings and it's up to the teacher to decide which system will benefit the student the most.

June 20, 2007 at 01:39 AM · Jiwen, I hear a lot of what your saying, and it borders a lot of what has been going on so much inside my head!

"The problem with moveable Do is that it can actually be harmful to a child's ability to recognize pitch. Do is Do and it sounds a certain way. When Re becomes Do, it is like saying blue is green and blue will always be blue, not green."

With this I completely understand. By college age, I could function and understand the concepts of movable and fixed do, but it's hard to decide if both should be used, which first, when the other should be introduced, etc. when teaching beginners. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to come to a concrete decision.

"By giving notes names that don't make any sense at first- Do, Re, Mi, Fa,etc. it is moste likely that a child will know that there's no connection between letters and notes and therefore will later be able to read music faster(without having to use FACE, and Every Good Boy Does Fine)."

This echoes a lot with me. After taking a literacy class and a music in special education class, I see all these ways that people interpret alphabets, words, etc., and then the ways that people can have problems with them! I feel like it's a crutch that doesn't help out as much as it seems like it would on the surface. It almost masks the aural experience because they're associating with something so not related to the sound and experience of sound.

"I think it is easier to know the actual notes and intervals than to say to my self, Re is Do and if Re is Do then that other note must be a Sol and Do to Sol is a fifth."

I guess coming from someone who is a "movable do" trained person, I can vouch for saying that that's not what really comes into my mind when I listen to music.

I'll hear just the interval patterns, which yes, I may be able to call "do" but I'm not thinking of it as a pitch, rather than an interval in relation to the tonal center.

For instance, I was listening to a Caribbean band's CD my friend showed me... it went..."do, mi sol fa, la do, do, mi sol...sol fa mi re do" so what I heard was a I, IV, I, V (with passing tones), I progression. I'm not sure what key it was in, but the second you were to tell me "the tonal center is ___ pitch" then it all falls into place.

It's not as much confusion as I think you feel like it would be...not as much "if re is do in X key and if blahblahblah."

But yeah, I guess I'm leaning towards using fixed do to teach the note names on the page and on the fingerboard initially. At some point introducing movable do, or maybe using other nonsense syllables for the movable do to not confuse with the fixed do, to teach "ear training" with recognizing intervals.

I feel it's important to be able to recognize a major third as the sound of a major third, or the sound of a dominant seventh chord as that which it is, rather than just picking out the note names and not really connecting the dots in how they're working together. (at least in the western classical tradition..others aren't so focused on harmony as we are)

So like, instead of just taking two notes: Fa, and La (in fixed do), and then saying, well, those are 4 half steps apart which makes them a major third... they'll hear the third and by the sound can tell it's a third no matter what notes they are.

One part of the brain will recognize it as fa and la...another part of the brain will recognize it as a major third sound. They're two separate, and equally important skills.

God, I wish Kodaly, Dalcroze, or Orff or someone were still alive today to contribute their ideas also!

Okay! Hopefully I'm making some sense! :)

June 20, 2007 at 07:08 AM · Jiwen,

You have a completely different perspective from me because you were taught the fixed Do system first. Thanks for sharing a new angle. I especially like the color analogy, because you used the same colors for C (Do)and D (Re) that I see.

I learned the note names by alphabet letters. Now I associate the alphabet name with the memory of the pitch that goes with it. I suppose I could rename them all using the fixed Do system, but I see no point to do so, this late in my musical career.

I learned moveable do in college. With no prior association with fixed do, it was not difficult at all to transpose the solfege to new keys, since the words had no ties to specific pitches, like they do for you. It is much easier for me, I'm sure. By your description, I'm pretty sure now that moveable Do and fixed Do should not be mixed.

June 20, 2007 at 06:49 AM · Jesse: this is what I am experimenting with right now with pupils, and on myself. You might want to try it and let me know what you think (I got the idea from a course I recently did)

I have a picture of a step-ladder with 8 rungs. This is the major scale, and the rungs appear close together for the semi-tones and wider for the tones. All the rungs have roman numerals written on them I - VIII.

The I, IV, V, VIII rungs are coloured the same, II, III, VI are coloured the same and

VIII has its own colour.

Now, you decide what you call each rung, for example if you are going to work on C-major, your 'I' is either Do or C.

First you practise singing up and down the scale, then you start messing around with leaps and stuff. You can point to the rungs and have someone sing what they are seeing\hearing back to you, ...this can be done with and without note names.(but you can also sing numbers)

When you are really fluent in c-major, you can go to D-major (good key for beginner violinists) 'I' now becomes D or RE, of course. Now at this point I, personally, find myself struggling a bit to think of the note name, but have no problem 'seeing' the interval (because I am a visual learner and I grew up doing my harmony and stuff at the keyboard... and also I have trained myself, up to a point in moveable DO)

The rungs are coloured a certain way because they show wether the chord that you build there will either be major or minor or diminished.

(hence also the use of Roman numerals)

Once you have vocalized and sung your D scale, you can take it to your violin, you point to a rung and someone plays it, start with scale steps and then start skipping notes.

You can also do simple harmony at your instrument this way (with more advanced pupils of course)... if you have two students, one plays a simple melody in D, and the other plays the roots of the chord to accompany the other (you point to the rung ..)

When they get fluent at this, instead of doing pedal notes they can do broken chords, of tonic, dominant etc ...

Anyway, I am having fun with this. And it is so adaptable for all levels and ages. (my personal ladder has snails and ants going up and down it at the bottom ...)

June 20, 2007 at 12:54 PM · Emily - that's interesting you bring up colors. Do you consider yourself to have synesthesia? Although I don't think my tendencies to see colors are strong enough where I'd consider myself having that, I often do associate sounds in general, and pitches on the violin with colors. Although, C for me is more of a brown, but still earthy like your green.

Not that I wanted to go too far off on a tangent, but I thought that was cool.

Teresa -

What course was it that you took? I remember in my early/childhood music education class we talked about things like that... iconic representation. It sounds like a great way to teach visual learners! I student teach in the fall so I'll have to try it then.

Using the solfege hand symbols might be a good addition to use along with the ladder, for the kinesthetic learners (what I am mostly).

I just had an idea that maybe when teaching about scales, a cool way to use composition would be for them to make their own ladders, or representations of a scale!

June 20, 2007 at 10:49 PM · Okay, Yixi. Now you are going to find out why I decided to ace this comment out before. PLEASE, let me underscore that by making this incredibly erroneous and ridiculous generaliztion, I am immediately admitting the flawed character of what I am about to say. Nevertheless, these are the patterns I notice:

My students who are great sight-readers and not so great memorizers don't like moveable do. It seems pointless to them. Fixed do, abc, rote memorizations work just fine for them and they prefer to relate to music in that way.

My students who are great memorizers and not so great sight-readers are very slow to read "a b c", but understand moveable do much better and prefer to read music and relate to pitches in that way.

I also notice these tendencies . . . my first group tend to do better in orchestra, theory, technical proficiency and accuracy. My second group tends to do better with musicality, expression and nuance; although, everyone is unique, and they can all learn to develop and overcome whatever weaknesses they have.

Let the flames erupt. Now everyone can tell me how this is stupid (because it is) and how they don't fit the pattern at all (which, no one REALLY does, because everyone is an individual). Oh great, now all the stuff I said about "teach the child" la di da, can just go right out the window. I'm sure Milstein and Heifetz did not fit this pattern and never learned moveable do, so what do I know--I tell you, I'm the village idiot. One slap on the wrist for putting people into categories. Bad girl.

But . . . one thought for the road--don't you think it's interesting that most people on this thread have expressed a preference for one over the other, even if in later years, or through further study have come to appreciate both?

June 20, 2007 at 10:11 PM · I see the same thing, Kimberlee. And what's wrong with making general observations, anyway? People do every day.

June 20, 2007 at 10:52 PM · Greetings,

I don`t think seeing colors for sounds is indicative of synesthesia. One thing I have notice da sa consistent pattern over the years is that stduents or colleagues who hear/see sounds as colorsare usually the most talented. I have also found that great teachers talk in terms of colors. I think it is a greta topic for a whole new thread,



June 21, 2007 at 04:06 AM · Buri,

Do it up!

June 21, 2007 at 05:18 AM · I’ll say this is very insightful observation of yours, Kimberlee. And thank you for putting it back!

I don’t think it’ll be fair to call your observation or generalization erroneous when you are reporting an interesting pattern among your students that you’ve noticed. I can be one more case to confirm your observation. I’m not a kid any more but I belong to the second group that you described very well:

a) Having good memory (frequently impressed my teachers). Love to memorize each piece first and then work on technical and musical parts with eyes closed;

b) not great sight-reader (slow reader)

c) the moveable do works automatically in my head even if I start with fixed do when I learn a new piece. I don’t have to name do, re, mi. It could be da, da, da, or dum, dum, dum. As long as I get the relative pitches and major/minor keys, the work makes sense to me and I can start to ‘say’ something about it. I always mix-up big time when discuss "a b c" with someone.

d) Most of all, I’m very musical but I need to work on technical aspect to balance myself. Even when I do technical work, I can’t help but making them to sound like pieces. Here is an example of my teacher’s comments: “Yixi, you can make anything interesting of course, but the whole point of doing K8 is such and such….” And then I forgot what the point was when I played it again:)

e) I also see lots of motion pictures, not just one color or two colors, when I play or listen to music. I get very emotional with music, the type of emotions that starts where words end.

All the professionally trained musicians that I know are quite the opposite. They would just laugh when I ask them about such experience associated with music. I’ve been sheepish about this until I read your comments. Thank you again for opening this up for people like me.

Yeah, Buri, let's do it!

June 21, 2007 at 12:36 PM · Jessie ... the course I took (am doing, actually) is in connection with the Suzuki programme in Turin. Actually they use the ladder image with very small children, and each rung is different colour, so you relate to eg Tonic as Red and Dominant as Yellow. (I am, at the moment, using the colours to represent major and minor.... )

June 21, 2007 at 06:30 PM · Teresa when singing the D ma what do they sing for the fa diesis and the do diesis? I take it that the do is fixed.

June 22, 2007 at 05:14 AM · Janet:

dod red mid fad sod lad sid (sharps)

dob reb mib fab sob lab sib (flats) an English speaking person you can imagine why I find this funny ..!!

I think they only do this for the early years, since I guess the 'rapid-fire spoken spoken solfege' required for conservatory becomes impossible with a consonant stuck on the end

June 23, 2007 at 01:33 PM · I learned: Do Di Re Ri Mi Fa Fi Sol Si La Li Ti Do

For Flats Do Ti Te La Le Sol Se Fa Mi Me Re(oh, Yikes, I can't remember what this next one is called in flats--half step from Do, Db in fixed Do--make up a name--maybe Ra, not to be confused with the Ancient Egyptian God)Do

in the flat case, "se" is pronounced like Say, and Te like Lay etc.

in the instance of sharps, si, di, ri etc., are pronounced like "see, or me"

I think these syllables are easier to say in rapid fire than Dod and company.

June 23, 2007 at 02:58 PM · Very interesting thread. I grew up reading shaped notes in choral music, which basically amounts to a movable DO system that uses shapes instead of position to identify the note that should be sung. I did not pick up a violin until I was 22, and I would say now I have clear strengths in being able to hear notes and intervals. In addition, transposing is very easy. Kimberlee's comments are very insightful, and I clearly fit into her second group.

July 2, 2007 at 08:21 AM · Jessie ...a very interesting book to read and work through :

Erzebet Szonyi "Musical Reading and Writing" book 1 (the teacher's book)

Edito Musica Budapest Z.13824

I think you would enjoy it, get teaching ideas, and help you formulate which direction you want to go in your teaching. It is a Kodaly based moveable Do book, basically 49 lessons which are interesting to work through... I went through it a couple of years ago to verse myself in moveable Do and am going through it again. Wether you decide to go that way or not ... it is a great book and if you manage to get hold of it I think you would get a lot out of it!

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