Solfege Sounds

by John Riggio

"Solfege Sounds" is another in our continuing "sounds" series which helps students learn to sing parts with confidence. In this case, it is also a good reinforcement of the use of solfege to teach melodies.

There are three distinct vocal melodies. They are sung one at a time at first, then combined for a really neat effect. There are also three distinct rhythm parts that correspond to the vocal parts. On the P/A recording, we used guiro, tambourine, and cowbell, but you can use any non-pitched percussion instruments you like. You could also invent simple Orff ostinatos based on the key of C and following the progressions indicated on the piano/vocal. These could be played on any C instrument.

Suggested rhythms for the percussion are included on the piano/vocal. You will note slight variations of these rhythms on our recording as performed by our percussionist. Feel free to adapt your own as well. We have also indicated an optional eighth note rhythm for the tambourine part in case sixteenth notes are too challenging for your players.

The recorded form is described at the bottom of page 53, but as with other songs in our "sounds" series, you can play it live and change the form to suit your needs. For example, maybe you'd like to hear vocal part 2 first, then 3, then 1. Or perhaps you could change which percussion parts correspond to the vocal parts, i.e., percussion part 3 now corresponds to vocal part 1, percussion part 2 now corresponds to vocal part 3, etc.

Of course, you can also create or add new melodies and rhythms throughout. This might be useful if there is a musical concept you'd like to teach, such as specific intervals, rhythms, or even dynamics. Let students be the composers, and don't forget to insist they use the solfege syllables when writing and teaching their compositions. Also consider having them use Kodály hand signs.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.