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C-Clef Letter Names

Hello, all,

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about C-clef pedaogy in aural skills courses. I understand the arguments for students to sing C-clef melodies with letter names (i.e. Karpinski)--that singing letter names (or playing on an instrument from C-clef notation) are essentially the only ways to test that students are reading notes in these clefs (instead of simply transposing them). In general, I agree with this, and I have had my own students sing C-clef melodies with letter names for many years. 

I was wondering if anyone with more aural skills experience than myself has thoughts on this? Do you think it's the best practice for students? Do you think there are additional benefits, or potential drawbacks? Do you have an alternative C-clef pedagogical technique?

Thanks,

Chelsey Hamm 

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  • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Hi Chelsey,

    Here are a few thoughts.

    I believe that playing simple lines on keyboard is a more straightforward starting point than singing, since it focuses more on identification of the actual notes rather than finding the tune by ear. This could be a valuable activity in either a keyboard skills or an aural skills course.

    If you're using repertoire, viola parts can be a difficult starting point. Vocal music has been working well in our courses. If you're using repertoire, viola parts can be a difficult starting point. Vocal music has been working well for us at McGill. Renaissance music comes in handy since it often uses C clefs and isn't full of leaps.

    Starting with reading of single lines lets students get comfortable with the clef before they embark on more complex activities like score reading or sing&play. Somebody else (instructor, students, software) can perform other parts at the same time for context. This way, it's ok if the student has a boring inner part some of the time (a normal experience), because somebody else's part will be supplying additional interest.  

    I'm looking forward to reading what others think about this!

    Justin

     

    ____________________________

    Justin Mariner

    Assistant Professor

    Schulich School of Music

    McGill University

  • I meant to add that I have gotten better results spending a lot of time in one clef, possibly only adding one new clef per semester. Without a lot of time, it's hard to get students good at numerous clefs and instrumental transpositions. It may be better to get them good at a few, so they know what it takes if they need to get good at more of them in the future. 

    ____________________________

    Justin Mariner

    Assistant Professor

    Schulich School of Music

    McGill University