Perfect Pitch: No Measure of Musical Ability

January 7th, 2014|

I once saw a YouTube video of a dog demonstrating perfect pitch.  A lovely Golden Retriever sat at what looked to be a makeshift, paw-friendly piano keyboard . Opposite and off screen, a woman played a penny whistle and addressed the dog in German.  The woman would […]

What is a Tritone? And, What Isn’t It?

November 16th, 2011|

The word tritone is frequently used interchangeably with the terms augmented fourth and diminished fifth.  Let’s see if we can clear that up.

The intervals of the augmented fourth and diminished fifth indeed sound the same when played out of context on a piano, but they are not the same interval, they are not both the same thing as a tritone, and the tritone is not an inversion of itself. […]

Raw Dough and Tea: Diabolical Solfège Songs

November 11th, 2011|

I recently discovered that an old acquaintance of mine is a fellow musicianship teacher and has been writing and recording diabolically clever songs that illustrate musical ear training concepts in a refreshing and fun way.

David Newman is an accomplished baritone soloist and teacher of voice and musicianship at James Madison University, who apparently knows a thing or two about songwriting as well.  His songs are on YouTube and they speak for themselves. If you are at all concerned with getting students to hear harmonic progressions and intervals, you will be thoroughly entertained by these. […]

What Is Musicianship?

December 4th, 2009|

I wonder if, bogged down in the details of teaching those various skills, we've lost track of what musicianship really is.

The Case for Movable “Do” in Classroom Musicianship

February 4th, 2009|

Against my better judgment, I’m jumping into the fray regarding methods used in the teaching of sight singing. Normally I try to stay away from such conflicts, but I can only take so much disparagement of my beloved Movable Do system.  The last straw is the discovery of this web site, which contains misleading information designed to promote the sale of a book.

(Warning: This post is intended for musicianship and theory nerds. If you are not in that category, your eyes will glaze over shortly.) […]

Learning Atonal Music

October 14th, 2006|

Poking among some neglected subscriptions in Google Reader, I just came across this interesting approach to learning how to sing atonal, or otherwise difficult, music. This is from The Concert, the blog of a New York soprano.

In a nutshell, the idea is to break the piece into smaller tasks, the first being to concentrate on one small section at a time. Within each section, strip the material of text and rhythm, only focusing at first on the pitches. Basically, learn the string of pitches one interval at time. […]