Key Signatures and Finding Do

My workshops end tomorrow! I have learned so much! As part of my coursework, I need to know the key signatures in order to transpose a song. My classmate shared with me a mnemonic device that she teaches her students: different words to the song “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” This song has helped me remember how to find the “do” (for sol-fa) in any key signature (except for F):

When sharps are in the key
The last one will be ti
Down one from do.
Then off to flats we’ll go
Next to the last one’s do
These are the two rules for finding do.

Because I didn’t learn my key signatures (except for C) or the circle of fifths growing up, and because I’ve never been able to keep them fresh in my memory, I seem to have to keep relearning how to figure them out! This song is helpful, and I’m hoping that I can keep using this trick–not just for my first final tomorrow–but also for reading songs and finding do from here on out! Then my understanding can become permanent. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Not having learned theory as a child motivates me to teach music to children so they can easily access that information, whether or not they become musicians. It’s just great to be able to read a piece of sheet music to sing or play it for fun! Children often can grasp concepts SO easily! I walked in the door from school today, and while my 9-year old was eating dinner, I taught him the five pentatonic scales. He totally got it and could fill in the pattern as I explained it–even before I finished explaining it. SO unfair. But it was a perfect illustration of why it is so worth teaching children music when they are young.


Many Hands Make Light Work

Yesterday was a great day for Delicious Music!

I started out my day getting some information to my blog designer, Elaine, at elainegriffindesigns. (The site you see today is still the old design, since she hasn’t had a chance to get the new design up yet–she’s waiting for me to get her more info!) Elaine is helping me get the FDM website so that it can be the resource for children, parents, and teachers that I hope it will be. I needed help, and she has stepped in to help me. How fabulous! She is doing this voluntarily for us, like everyone else who has helped with DM, so that we can get more Delicious Music to more families. Thank you, Elaine!

Then I went running with my husband, and while running we listened to a streaming radio program about civility (or rather the lack of it) in our world today. The program commentator invited parents to ask their children a question like, “What would make us happiest? If you were successful, famous, or good?” to find out what they perceive is important to you. I thought about how part of the mission of Delicious Music is to share music and music-teaching tools that promote civility, because my hope for all children is that they will want to be good and do good. Life is so much more enjoyable when we can get along and be kind to each other. Children who are taught how to do this by the adults in their lives will absolutely be able to be good and do good when they are adults, and our world will be a better place. Music is one of the best ways to reinforce being good, doing good, and looking for the good in those around us.

Yesterday I was in my fourth day of Kodály training at BYU. I learned so much! This is the hardest intellectual activity I’ve done in a long time. As one of our teachers phrased it yesterday, it’s been like trying to drink water from a firehose. A lot of new information all at once! Doing this training reminds me that hard is good, and even though I felt overwhelmed and started to cry the first day (I felt like, “I can’t do this!”), I remembered that I can do hard things and this is how the beginning of something new can feel. AND I had paid a lot of money I’d saved just to get this education. Onward and upward!

I felt so encouraged during my conducting class when I was called to conduct a piece that is challenging. The song is, of all things, about chickens stealing grain from a farmer! It’s a Hungarian folk song and is pretty funny. And how I look while learning to conduct it looks pretty funny, too. But I felt so good trying to conduct because I had PRACTICED! And then my teacher corrected my mistakes and helped me make some progress. Preparing always makes a difference, especially in the way I feel about facing a task. Which reminds me that I’ve got to wrap this post up because I have practicing to do before I go to class today!

During my day I visited with M Ryan Taylor who composed the tongue-twister songs we are singing in our choir class at InterMuse. He is one talented guy, and our tongue-twisting songs are not only twisting my tongue but making me learn how to sing with multiple time signature changes in rapid succession. What a great way to get your choir to THINK about what they are singing! You can’t day dream during these tunes! The elocution practice in them reminds me of warm-ups I’ve song or chanted before, such as “The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue.” Ryan is also working on a ukelele curriculum for 8-12 year olds that when he’s finished, I’d like to know more about. Maybe we can use it at our school for an before or after school class since we have two teachers who use our school ukelele set in their classrooms.

After my classes were over and I was doing homework while waiting for my husband to pick me up, I noticed a student doing sign language down the table from me. I asked her if she knew ASL (American Sign Language). She replied affirmatively, saying that she would be interpreting for a play that night. I asked her if she could see if my signs in our DM song were correct. (My amazing friend, Crystal, taught me the signs originally, but she said she was a little rusty and not sure if they were exactly right. I never did get to visit with our district ASL person, so I’ve been wondering ever since then if I were signing it correctly.) I sang the song for her, and she clarified two of the signs, showing me to move my fists in a circle for “together” and to tap my finger on my chin for “favorite.” Hooray! Now I can do it better!

That experience made me remember that I need to video tape the song correctly, along with making a number of other little videos to be posted on this website. So if anyone wants to help me with that….

Which made me think of Elaine again and how many hands make light work! I figured this is a good time for me to write a little sol-mi song about that. Here we go:

Many hands make light work. This is really true.

When we help each other, there’s so much we can do!

Here’s Many Hands Make Light Work. Thanks to this free music notation font by Matthew Hindson, I got it notated! (I have to figure out how to put the bar lines in with this font, but I’m out of time, so I’ll have to update it later.)

Happy Singing!

Liz 🙂