Mussorgsky the Moose
When I saw the wonderful Anne Comiskey present at the Kodaly National Conference last year, I was struck by a wonderful thing she said. Solfa is our musical language, why not immerse our students in it?
In LOTE lessons, you will often hear the teacher speaking full sentences or even whole sections of the lesson entirely in another language, including words and phrases that the students are not yet familiar with, simply to let them soak in that language and hear what it sounds like.
We often become so scared of giving away the answer before our students are ready - "oh I mustn't use solfa for this song, it has a fa and they don't know that yet!"
However, there is a big difference between requiring your students to fluently read and write a particular solfa pitch versus simply hearing it as part of a wider range of notes.
Anne's wonderful idea involved exposing her students to the full language of solfa by "gifting" it to any student having a birthday. The student could come up and sit on a special chair and get to hold Mussorgsky the Moose while she sang them Happy Birthday using her "special musical language" of solfa.
I immediately fell in love with the puppet implications of this idea and rushed out looking for someone like this guy:
Or these great ones from Wild Republic
But the key message here is that we shouldn't be so scared of revealing our hand before we think our students are ready. In reality, most of them have either
a) heard it from an older brother/sister/cousin etc.
b) seen it on a poster
c) come to choir or other music lessons and learned about it that way or
d) seen The Sound of Music
They're going to have heard of these notes, it's ok to let them hear it once more. You know that when the time comes to use it fully, you will still undertake the steps of Prepare, Present and Practise and tick off all those lovely Kodaly boxes, but for now, let them hear solfa - it's their birthday!