Solfege Teaching Guide

Intended audience: Everyone - musical and non-musical - especially prospective parents. Please don't let the title discourage you from reading this.

The French School of Music solfege methodology is a surprisingly approachable system for understanding music involving singing on-pitch, sightreading, conducting time, ear training, and music dictation.

The combination of solfege lessons and efficient piano practice methods empowered many French School alumni from around the 1970s to perform in Carnegie Recital Hall as children, attend conservatories, develop a lifelong love for music, and have successful music careers. Many alumni excelled in non-music related careers as well because these methods enabled students to develop a deep understanding of what constitutes excellence.

If this was just about learning solfege, this book wouldn’t be needed. This is also a metaphor about life - about learning how to learn, identify and solve problems, be efficient, become a leader and influencer, and coach future generations to do the same.

Downloadable Content

Using Solfege to Practice Improvisation

This an early, rough recording that blows out at one point. A more polished recording went into the audiobook for the Solfege Teaching Guide, and this shows how I used solfege to teach myself how to compose and improvise. This is good old Dannhäuser solfege exercise number 1, and it sounds fairly normal for the first couple bars. Then I improvise on the fly on top. Take the improvisation away, and what you hear is what every French School of Music solfege student heard and sang on day one of their solfege training. Talk about an irresistible gateway drug into the world of learning how to sightread music.

This is also done in response to the countless people I have met who tell me they hear the most extraordinary music in their heads, they just don't know how to write it down. The French School methodology was specifically designed to enable solfege students to achieve this goal. As you can see, at every point in time I know exactly what I am doing, and everyone should be able to do the same, even if they don't develop absolute pitch. Use this recording as a litmus test when evaluating music instructors, courses, and conservatories, to ensure that with their training you will develop the skills to do this.

Here is the sheet music for this improvisation. Yes, you can hear the pitches in the recording. Do you know enough to conduct time and figure out the durations of the notes that were sung?

Here is a second solfege / improvisation demo.