Wednesday, June 29, 2011

syncopated rhythms in cut time

The song for today's lesson is "Gaudeamus Hodie".  I learned this song many years ago, but I can't remember where.  I think it was in Girl Scouts.  I remember singing it in Latin and English.  As I recall we sang, "O, be joyful, O, be jubilant, Put your troubles far away" and I forget the rest.  It is a really fun round and is good practice with syncopated rhythms.  It is notated in 2/2 which makes it easier to read the rhythms.  In today's lesson we'll sing the melody with the solfege tone ladder and read the rhythms.  If you want a challenge you can write out the melody on staff paper in the bass clef.  The song is in A major.  Part two is the easiest to notate because it just goes up the scale.  Tomorrow's lesson will have the notation so you can check yourself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

chordal harmony for "Peace Like a River"

Today's lesson demonstrates how to sing simple harmonies for "Peace Like a River" by following the notes in the chords.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

sixteenth-dotted eighth rhythm in "Peace Like a River"

A few days ago I had you sight sing Peace Like a River.  The notation I included with the lesson had a mistake in the rhythm for the word "river."  I notated it as two eighth notes,  but the way I sing it is a sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note.  This is a new rhythm pattern and the first part of today's lesson introduces it briefly.  You'll also sing the chord progression for the song which uses only the I, IV and V chords for C major which are C, F and G (see explanation if needed). Part two of the lesson (tomorrow) will teach you three simple harmonies that you could sing following the notes in the chord progression.

Friday, June 24, 2011

sight singing practice in C major

Today's lesson is sight singing practice with "You Are My Sunshine".  It is in the key of C major and notated in the treble (G) clef in 4/4 time.  If you tried to notate it yourself, you may have run into a problem in the first phrase.  That is because there is a note in the melody that is not in the C major scale.  This is called an accidental.  On the words "my only sunshine" the E becomes E flat and then goes back to E natural. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

solo sight singing - "Peace Like a River"

Try to sight sing Peace Like a River.   It is in the key of C major, but you can just pick a comfortable pitch for the tonic (C) if you aren't close to an instrument to give you the C.  If you do have an instrument to get your starting pitch and/or the tonic, trust yourself to figure out the rest without playing it first.  The song starts on "so" and ends on "do".  You can listen to the song to check yourself, although I sing the words rather than the solfege. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"You Are My Sunshine"

Today's lesson is a listening exercise.  A big part of singing is listening.  This recording is of my two sisters and me singing "You Are My Sunshine".  Can you hear all three parts?  Is it duple or triple meter?  Duple feels like walking and triple feels like waltzing.  Can you find the tonic?  Remember that a song usually ends on the tonic.  Listen for other places in the melody where you hear the tonic.  Try pausing the recording at random places and singing the tonic.  If the melody is easy for you, try to sing along with one of the harmony parts.  One is above the melody and one is below.  You can also try to tap the rhythm in one hand and the beat in the other hand.  If that is all easy for you, try to write out the notation.  It is in C major and the melody starts on "so".  Have fun.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Man's Life's a Vapor" in cut time

When you see a song written in cut time (two beats per measure with the half note getting the beat) you can count it in four if that helps with the rhythms.  Usually it is a bit cumbersome to count it in four once you are up to tempo.  At that point it should be easy to switch over to tapping or counting on the half note beat.  Watch Today's lesson to see and hear what I mean.  The song is a round called "Man's Life's a Vapor" which I learned from Charlite Chilton in Abingdon, Virginia.  It is notated in F major and has lots of stepwise motion with a great scale pattern at the end: sfmrdtlsltd.  You have to get some friends together to sing this round.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

common time and cut time

Common time is another way to describe 4/4 time.  It is written with a large C in the place of a numerical time signature.  The C is not actually an abbreviation of the word "common" as many of us were told in music class.  It is actually half of a circle which represented "imperfect" or duple meter for music theorists in the 11th-14th centuries.  The circle represented "perfect" or triple (as in Holy Trinity) meter.  This was logical in this time period in Europe as much of the developments in music, both performing and composing, were happening in the church.  Today's YouTube lesson gives a short comparison of a rhythm pattern notated in common time, cut time and 2/4 time. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

sight singing "Cindy"

In today's lesson you will be sight singing the tune "Cindy".  I have notated it in 4/4 time to make the rhythms easier to read, but it is actually sung in two.  This is called cut time.  Rather than 4 beats per measure you have 2 and the half note gets the beat.  This may sound difficult, but it is really happens quite naturally when the song is sung up to tempo. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

sight singing practice in F major

Today's lesson gives you sight singing practice in F major.  The tone set (notes used in the song) is s tdrmfs.  Try pausing the video and figuring it out on your own before watching it. 

Adventures in Learning dulcimer songs

Yesterday I taught a dulcimer class for Adventures in Learning with Shepherd's Center East.  Here is a video of the songs we learned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ear training with the dulcimer

Today's lesson gives you more practice with singing the solfege for a melody ("Simple Gifts") played on the dulcimer.  This one is a little harder than yesterday's song.  The range is expanded (s tdrmfs) and there are more skips (mostly thirds).

Monday, June 6, 2011

ear training with dulcimer

Today's lesson will give you practice singing the solfege for and notating a simple melody.  The song is "Going Down the Valley".  I play it on my dulcimer and then have you sing back the solfege.  The dulcimer plays it in D major and the vocal example from yesterday was in G major, so I show the notation in those two keys plus F major. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

solfege for "Going Down the Valley"

Yesterday's concert was great fun.  Here is the YouTube of the beginning of the concert.  There are several things you can listen for as you watch the first song.  First, as you listen to the first part (the chorus) see if you can pick out the melody from the four parts that are being sung.  Next, as you listen to the verse (sung in unison) see if you can figure out the solfege to the first phrase.  It starts and ends on "do" and only uses drmf.  It uses mostly stepwise motion.  The words begin "We are going down the valley one by one..."  If all of that seems like way too much work, just watch the video and enjoy. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Concert and sing-a-long

Community Singers will present a free concert tonight 7-8 PM at the Unitarian Unversalist Church of Charlotte, 234 N. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, 28212.   We will sing songs from many styles and cultures including many familiar folk songs for singing along.  In addition to many a capella pieces you will hear accompaniment on dulcimers, guitar, recorders, xylophone, harp and ukulele.  Join with us in an evening of music making for all ages.

Here are several YouTubes of last year's concert:
Part 1
Part 4

Friday, June 3, 2011

sight singing practice in G major

Today's lesson gives you practice with sight singing a song in G major in the treble and bass clef.  The ascending pattern "so, la, ti, do" is repeated at the beginning of the first three phrases.  The skip from "la" to "re" may seem a little tricky, but it is the same as the skip from "do" to "fa" which is a perfect fourth.