Closing the gap between sound and sight

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Return to: Kevin McCauley ETAP 623 Spring 2019 Section 9571 (Zhang)


Welcome to my mini-course. In this course we will be learning about sound before sight in music education. This course is geared towards beginning band teachers who are looking for more options and idea to increase music reading comprehension. It is based on Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory as well as personal experience and feedback.


In this course, participants will learn music reading strategies that will help their elementary students music reading. This process takes a different approach to standard method book based music learning. Year 1 for the student, method books are seldom used with this method. Instead the year 1 curriculum is geared around learning a set series of tunes each introducing new musical concepts. These tunes are learned by rote using solfege. This system works great for schools that have non-homogeneous lesson groups. Since each band instrument are in different keys. Lessons can become more streamlined when you can just say "Let's play Mi-Re-Do" and everyone knows the corresponding sound and fingering instead of saying "Flutes, Trombones and Percussion play D,C, Bb, Clarinets and Trumpets play E,D,C, Saxophones play B,A,G, French Horn play A,G,F". Throughout the year students are slowly introduced to symbolic association as they learn to understand the function of each scale tone. I compare this to learning to speak and read. First children experiment with babble making sounds, they slowly form into words. If a student that can't speak tried to learn to read, it can become incredibly confusing. These music learners do not yet know the language of music so in this course, the focus is to first teach the language, then the reading will follow soon after.

End-of-Course Objectives

  • The participant will demonstrate music teaching strategies to enhance student’s music reading comprehension.
  • The participant will customize and apply music reading strategies based on their personal teaching style and needs.


Unit 1 Learning Solfege

  • Participant will review/or become accustomed to the musical “solfege” system.
  • Participant will select a progressive series of tunes to use within their curriculum.

Unit 2 Standard Notation to Solfege

  • Participant will translate their tunes from standard notation to solfege system.

Unit 3 Rhythmic Solfege

  • Participant will learn about and implement rhythmic solfege into their curriculum

Unit 4 Putting it Together

  • Participant will incorporate all of the previous concepts into a singular cohesive plan.


The Gordon Institute for Music Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Hoffman, R. (2009). Learning rhythm with the TAKADIMI system of rhythm solfege. Retrieved May 8, 2019, from