Unit 1

“Let’s start at the very beginning…..a very good place to start!”


What is “solfa?” In the Middle Ages there was very little music notation. Monks were writing chants that used dots called “neumes” and eventually developed into a system where there was a staff and certain places on the staff that denoted a tonal center and scale.  We have credited the monk Guido D’Arezzo with beginning the solfa system with “Do, Re, Mi” etc. based on the starting note of each section of the mass.

Later on, music teachers have used similar systems to teach children how to sing music notation!  Tonic Solfa was taught to kids in England during the years that Charlotte Mason set up her PNEU schools.  These children sang exercises in the same way that I will be introducing exercises to you!  If your curious about the history of Tonic Solfa, the system that gained popularity in the United States and several other countries was through the work of a Hungarian teacher and composer named Zolton Kodaly.  The system is similar in the introduction of hand signs with the solfa syllables, but the rhythm is vastly different.  We will be using the Kodaly system of rhythm counting.

Please watch the introduction video to get a glimpse of what is to come in our lessons!!!

If you are an older beginner, please link over to the Unit 1 page for Older Beginners!

Lesson 1
Before you start, download your own Solfa Sofa book to print with activities following each lesson! Download here

Let’s warm up our singing voices!  In the next few lessons we will be doing a lot of singing on the “Sol” and “Mi” notes.  Whenever you echo the video, make sure you have a nice singing tone in your voice.  Don’t try to yell or belt out the notes.  Think of your head being attached to a string and the puppeteer is lifting your head up as you sing with your singing voice!

Lesson 2

Traditional notation has a 5 line staff.  In the next few lessons we will be working with a 3 line staff only. The reason we do a 3 line staff is to get used to watching how the notes move from line to line.

Lesson 3

S-M notes not only move from line to line, but they might also move space to space.  Follow along as you sight sing some exercises with space notes.

Print off some S-M flashcards to practice!
Download here

Lesson 4

Once you establish a steady beat with your singing it is time to learn about rhythm.  We will introduce quarter notes and quarter rests this week and I’ve also prepared a printable worksheet to compose your own stick notation melodies!  Click here to download your copy!

Lesson 5

Now that we have been singing S-M it is time to add in “LA!” La is the note one step higher than Sol. Print off the Sol-Mi-La cards to practice singing at home!
Download here

Lesson 6

Our next rhythm symbol to add is the 8th note pair. We call this “ti-ti” and it gets two sounds per beat.
Print off your composing chart here!
Download here

Lesson 7

We are putting all these elements together in learning a folk song “Bounce High, Bounce Low!”
If you would like to learn more folk songs with the tone set “SML” visit this link:
http://kodaly.hnu.edu/collection.cfm – in the left hand side you will see a box that says “Tone Set” type in “m sl” and you will get a list of folk songs using only those notes.  You can also search for only “m s” songs.