In 1977, while preparing for Higher Music, we used to practise rhythm dictation as a preparation for the more demanding melody dictation. It was a way of preparing a skeleton of the tune before worrying about the topography. Why not try it in this life-affirming syncopation-fest?
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Imagine you’d been allocated one of the four inner-harmony parts in this six-part arrangement. Would the sea of syncopations, rests and fussy articulation seem daunting? one-note-samba-all-in
How about if you could play along to just those parts in class? one-note-samba-harmony-only
…before trying it against the contrasting – and therefore off-putting – bass line one-note-samba-harmony-bass
…and then trying it with the treacherous tune present – I say treacherous as its rhythms are similar to those of the harmonies but not identical – and therefore untrustworthy: one-note-samba-all-in
One of the things I love about Sibelius is that you can mute some lines, allowing pupils to hear others in isolation – before re-introducing rival lines, when familiarity and confidence build. If there are lessons in life to be extrapolated from musical situations, might one be that problems can be as much about context as substance?