We have started our next chapter in Grade 9 music. The first 5-6 weeks of the semester dealt with rhythm and the study of rhythm on practice pads and Garageband. This is half of music. Without rhythm, you don't have a pulse or beat. On the other hand, without pitch, it starts to get difficult to understand a song.
Music can be entirely based on non-pitched instruments, that is for sure. We all enjoy a Stomp concert or listening and performing music from cultures that celebrate the use of percussion instruments. However, I believe we all long for melody as well. We long to hear a line that is singable. This helps make music even more beautiful.
Students in the grade 9 music class have begun to learn about pitched instruments. We are beginning on the standard instrument - the piano. This is not to say it is the most important instrument but it is a standard instrument that musicians learn because it helps to simplify our understanding of how notes, chords and melody work. The piano is structured in a visible pattern - black and white notes. The black notes are arranged in groups of 2 or 3. This visual pattern helps the brain understand other concepts more clearly because there is an understandable pattern laid out before our eyes.
We began with developing our ears. By giving students a rhythmic line and the title of a well-known song (i.e. Mary Had a Little Lamb), students have to find the pitches to the song by using their ears as a guide. It is fun to watch them do this. Some do this easily because of their private music lessons and others not so easily. Either way, it is an important skill to have - to learn to use our ears as guides.