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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Teaching Ti

I'm returning to my series on melodic teaching strategies from years ago today with my favorite lesson ideas for introducing ti. After working on the pentatonic scale in 3rd grade, I introduce ti in 4th grade: singing it, identifying it aurally, and notating it as well.

My favorite song to use to introduce ti in 4th grade is "Boots of Shining Leather". I like using this song because I use it to review canon singing (as we get ready to learn partner songs) and this song is a good level of challenge for singing in canon while adding some movement as well. Here is one example of movement you can use- adding the element of having the groups face each other and walking back and forth makes it interesting and challenging for this age group! I tend to change up some of the movements to make them a little more modern but the basic idea is the same:

Once they are familiar enough with the song to be able to sing and move in canon, I show students the notation of the 2nd line, "boots of shining leather". This line works particularly well for students to see adjacent notes and quickly find ti because it starts on do, goes up to re (which they already know), and then goes back down the scale to la. There's our new note ti right in between do and la!

I don't get into minor scales until 5th grade so I don't explicitly touch on it in this lesson, but this is also a great song to use for la-based minor. Every single year I have had at least one student who notices that the song "sounds minor" and I often give a quick explanation of la-based minor for that student(s) by pointing out that the phrase ends on la instead of do.

Once we've practiced singing the note names in the song, I introduce the "me salty" game. If you have seen my previous post on mi/ sol/ la, then this game works the exact same way the "salami" game does: I sing a 3-note phrase with hand signs and students echo it back, but if I sing mi-sol-ti (which sounds like I'm calling myself "salty") then they are not supposed to sing it back. I of course mix all the other pitches into the phrases they echo so that they get plenty of practice with all of them! Once they can consistently sing the pitches with correct hand signs, I up the ante. First I sing the notes with hand signs but humming instead of singing the names, and they have to sing them back with the note names. Then I take away my hands and continue humming and have them sing and sign the notes back, and then I use just my hands and have them sing and sign the notes back. It takes quite a bit of concentration!

My favorite way to have students practice notating melodies including ti, at this age, is with Chrome Music Lab Song Maker. I like using this software with upper elementary because it's an easy way to use the colors to see which note is which, and they can see the melodic contour of the notes going higher and lower on the screen. First I have them practice notating short phrases I sing on solfege on the computer, then I have them notate the melody for "Boots of Shining Leather", and then eventually they compose their own melody including ti on Song Maker and transfer that to staff notation.

All of this is done over the course of the entire year as they get more comfortable with the pitch concepts. If you missed them, be sure to check out my previous posts on introducing sol/mi in 1st grade and introducing la in 2nd gradeAnd if you want to see the full lesson plans for how I teach the pentatonic pitches throughout the year in third grade, along with all the materials I use, you'll find them in my 3rd grade curriculum set here. All of my posts on teaching melodic concepts, including solfege, pitch letter names, and more are compiled in this post.

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