Adults Learning Music
From when we began Felton Music, several people have said they wish they could cope better with music notation. As a result, a Music Literacy course was devised. Other courses develop to meet perceived interests. As long as enough people would like to learn the same thing, there’s the capability to help them and we can find some time, there can be a course.
MUSIC LITERACY COURSES 2019
ABOUT THE COURSES
In 2016 Felton Music launched a Music Literacy course for adults. There were 6 sessions, with follow up work to do at home. Two parallel groups ran in the spring. A revised version of the course ran in the autumn. Altogether 26 people joined in, with most people attending all 6 sessions. Informal feedback suggested that everyone found the course enjoyable, and effective at least in part. Progress related to the amount of time people could spend on the follow up activities.
It's time to offer the course again, further rejigged in the light of experience. The content and approach were right, but many participants need more taught time and support to master the essential fundamental skills. Without these, the later learning doesn't have secure foundations. The key principle remains the same: that literacy is much more than decoding symbols, and benefits from thinking aurally, visually and kinaesthetically. The learning is largely practical, with lots of singing, use of keyboards and discussion.
The 2019 course covers the same content as in 2016, but at a steadier pace. It is modular, allowing more flexibility. Each module consists of 3 group sessions lasting 2½ hours each. The sessions will be about a fortnight apart, with 2 hours of guided independent learning to do after sessions 1 and 2.
The modules are:
1. Building Foundations with 5 notes
2. Building Foundations: how tunes work
3a. Rhythm Workout
3b. Scales and Keys
3c.Chords and Harmony
Modules 1 and 2 need to be taken first and in that order. They can look very basic on paper because they are heavily about skill building rather than accumulating knowledge. You need to master relative pitch in a limited range before you can go further. The other three modules can be tackled in any order. Those who did the course before and feel confident with early work, but not so sure about what we did later may wish to miss out 1 and 2. Ask if you think this is for you.
Access to a keyboard is essential for all the modules except 3a – and it's helpful for that one. It is a reference point and support for anything to do with pitch and allows you to develop a relationship between pitch and finger movements. It's best if the keyboard has full size keys, but it doesn't have to be a large or complicated machine. In 2016 most people who hadn't already got a keyboard, found they could track one down through friends, relations or second hand.
The course is designed for a small group – around 6 or 8 people is ideal. The cost needs to cover room hire, materials and refreshments. If a module runs at Felton Village Hall and has 6 people the cost will be £15 each. Modules can run in other places to suit those who would like to attend. Someone's home is fine and reduces the cost, but there needs to be space for all the keyboards.
Users of Felton Music have two other means of developing their music literacy. These are independent of the Music Literacy Courses, but are based on the same philosophy and supplement the courses.
Each Felton Music Saturdays on the second Saturday of the month includes an hour's sightsinging workshop. These do not attempt to be progressive, because people come as they can. Each session focusses on a couple of aspects of reading music, aiming to improve people's understanding and confidence.
Free downloadable resources will soon be available on the website. Lots of activities to apply and increase knowledge, skills and understanding.
Overview of the Modules
Every module will:
use a repertoire of well known tunes as examples and reference
develop participants' ability to think music visually, kinaesthetically and aurally
improve knowledge, understanding and skills
enable participants to become more musically independent and confident
MODULE 1: Building Foundations with 5 notes
Relate the first 5 notes of the major scale to the fingers, play them on a keyboard and sing them in any order.
Maintain a steady beat and relate it to basic rhythm notation.
Recall, analyse, compare, manipulate and envisage music patterns in the mind's eye.
Accumulate a remembered vocabulary of common musical patterns.
Read and write staff notation using 5 notes and basic rhythms
MODULE 2: Building Foundations: how tunes work
Extend the 5 note repertoire to the 8 notes of the major scale.
Understand the 4 basic metres of music, their time signatures and how they are notated.
Learn and use basic rests.
Understand the basics of tonality – that all notes in a scale are not equal, the power of tonic and dominant, and how to use this knowledge to help reading.
Explore the structure of short tunes and recognise by ear and eye common patterns such as repetition, inversion, and sequence.
MODULE 3a. Rhythm Workout
How we ended up with the rhythm notation we have.
Master simple and compound time.
Recognise most note and rest symbols and work out the others.
Work with dots, ties.
Understand syncopation, recognise it, relate it to a steady beat, work out how to perform it.
Work out unusual and changing time signatures, and read music using them
MODULE 3b. Scales and Keys
Understand semitones, aurally, played, sung and written.
Overview the range of scales in common use: modes, major, minor, pentatonic, chromatic, whole tone.
Construct, analyse and recognise scales.
Understand the concept of a key signature.
Understand how major and minor scales relate, and the pattern of key signatures.
Recognise at sight common keys and work out all.
Understand and recognise visually modulation.
MODULE 3c.Chords and Harmony
Understand consonance and dissonance.
Understand the structure of major and minor triads, how they can be inverted, and recognise triadic patterns in melodies.
Pitch each of the notes of a triad.
Understand, play, sing and recognise sequences of tonic, subdominant and dominant chords in different genres.
Work out chords in SATB music.
Understand principle of 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th,, 6th, aug, dim, sus chords and how
Guitar chord symbols work.
Start the Recorder
By the autumn of 2016, several people had said they’d like to having a go at resurrecting their recorder skills. Others thought it would be fun to start or restart from scratch. The former group meet on Music Saturdays. The latter came together for three sessions of a “Start the Recorder” course. Recorders were borrowed, found in drawers and bought. With course members choosing recorders in different sizes - descants, trebles and tenors, we had from the start a less shrill sound to work with than comes from descants in large herds.
This course is planned to meet the needs and skills of adult beginners. While being able to read music is handy, there’s no need to be able to, and the course helps players get going. It starts by looking at how the recorder works as a piece of technology and encourages establishing effective practice habits and explorations - as well as having fun.
The ratio of laughter to blowing amongst the original group has been about 50/50!
Cost depends on whether we can fit into someone’s house or need to hire the Village Hall.
There will be 3 x 2 hour sessions spread over 2 months to allow for practice.
Tin Whistle Workshop
We held our first tin whistle workshop on May 16, 2017 in the Village Hall. Fifteen people came along to give it a go, most of whom had not played before. In just two hours, everyone could play something and some could play lots.
Tin whistles are friendly, forgiving instruments, and you don't need to learn lots of skills to get going. The hardest thing is organising your fingers, which can be a bit frustrating at first, but with some time and patience they fall into line. Whistles are inexpensive and you don't need to be able to read music.
The first workshop was so well received that we followed it up with an Irish Evening on July 11 2017. This event was open to anyone who wanted to play or sing. It gave the whistlers something to aim for and all of us a lot of fun. It was enjoyed so much we will repeat it, or something similar, from time to time.
Another starter session for whistle can be arranged – log your interest. Two hours long, materials provided, and you can order a whistle too. Cost depends on whether we meet in the Village Hall or a house.
Following the Music Literacy Course, several people has said it would be interesting to understand more about how pieces of music work. As a result, in August 2016, we had a day long seminar exploring Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony.
This would be something I’d like to develop, especially linked to pieces people particularly like or are going to hear in concerts. Interested? If a course is scheduled it will be listed on this page. Make contact to book a place.
If no course is scheduled but you are interested, make contact in order to register that interest and help make another course happen. You will be consulted about dates and times.