Advertise on ChoralNet 
ChoralNet logo
The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

new songs to teach old intervals

Hello Colleagues - This is not completely choral related but I  know you will have many suggestions.  I am finding in my music theory classes that the traditional songs to help students learn and recognize intervals are completely gone from their repertoire.  Not only do they not know the 2nd theme from Romeo and Juliet nor the songs from West Side Story, but I'm often hard pressed to find students that know My Bonnie..., The Saints Go Marching.... and the NBC theme.  Traditional xmas carols and  some very old standards still work (Greensleeves, Over The Rainbow) but that's about it fromthe repertoire that I've using for years.
Certainly I ask them for suggestions about what they hear and have added some new things to my list (The  Simpsons, Star Trek, Superman Theme) but for the newest students even those are older songs.
So I'm looking for suggestions - do you have new songs for intervals that most students recognize?  Obviously I'm pretty old school on this topic so if you're a younger teacher, what did you learn with and is it working for you?  I know that I will hear from some of you about better methods for teaching intervals and that's great - a wide variety and combination of methods is always the best.  But I will continue to use songs as part of that method so send me your ideas!  I've been to lots of websites and all the old traditional ones are still there. 
Thanks in advance for your collective wisdom and experience,
Randi Carp
Phoenixville Area High School
Phoenixville, PA
on August 22, 2012 5:18pm
on August 23, 2012 3:50am
My tip is not to use songs to teach intervals - "O Little Town of Bethlehem" doesn't teach a perfect fourth, it teaches So-Do. And if the perfect fourth you're singing is Mi-La, it's no use at all, because in context that won't sound at all similar. Use solfege and get them to do intervals within it.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 23, 2012 4:31am
I haven't been teaching long enough in advanced groups to work on these with my students in particular, but I have a few ideas:
The beginning to the theme from Star Wars (recognizable to younger children now that there's a cartoon show) has a perfect fourth followed by a perfect fifth.  I've also used this song to teach my piano students how to do triplets.
Harry Potter's Hedwig Theme has a minor third at the beginning, followed by a minor second.
Thanks to Glee, a lot of kids will still recognize "My Girl" and the bass line is a pentatonic scale.
For bigger intervals, you might want to look into some of the more recent Maroon 5 music - there's a lot of big leaps in their choruses, although I haven't sat down to figure out the exact intervals.
Adele's music has some easily dissectable background vocals consisting of only a few notes - I'm thinking in particular of "Rumor Has It." 
Hope this helps!
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 23, 2012 5:42am
I am thrilled to report that being as I am, older than rocks, I know all of the old traditional songs, and when I'm in an early childhood classroom, I TEACH them! Yes, those of us who are old learned them because in our childhood, everyone sang them to children and they were often on the "radio", but if children are given the chance to hear them in K-1-2, they really enjoy them, and then, having built the foundation, you can use the for anything you like as they get older. This is not my idea of course, it's Kodaly's, but if you try it, you'll find that it pays off! See if you can convince the music supervisor in your district that someone in general music classes should be teaching traditional chldren's songs, and in time, your problem will solve itself!
The state and federal legislation that one must use the ghastly TV and computerized music that bombards the receptive ears of innocent children night and day has been repealed! You CAN and SHOULD teach real children's music. This is the reason why!
As an aside, does anyone know if this wonderful singer has anything else to listen to anywhere? I have loved that voice ever since the first time I heard it.
on August 23, 2012 6:38am
I second this request!   I teach solfege to kids using patterns from familiar songs.   Outside of a few Bob Marley songs, I am not aware of contemporary songs that are useful for this.   Kids no longer know Kum Ba Yah, which is great for do mi so . . . . later adding la.
on August 23, 2012 10:05pm
I've saved this for years, so I don't know if the suggestions are "new" enough.  But it is a wonderful resource nonetheless.
Jane Hamilton
Southern Arizona Women's Chorus
Tucson, AZ

Musicianship - Cal Poly - Dr. Alyson McLamore

Sample Tunes for Melodic and Harmonic Intervals

Write Me with other tunes that work for you!

Melodic Intervals

m2 - up

m2 - down M2 - up M2 - down m3 - up
Jaws Für Elise People 3 Blind Mice Brahms Lullaby
New World Symphony Beautiful Dreamer Close Encounters The First Noel To dream the Impossible Dream
James Bond Monday, Monday Are You Sleeping? Mary Had a Little Lamb I heard it through the Grapevine
    Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer   Greensleeves/What Child is This?
    Addams Family   Magnificent 7
    Silent Night   Be Our Guest
m3 - down M3 - up M3 - down P4 - up P4 - down
Nyah-nyah Blue Danube Beethoven's Fifth Taps Old MacDonald
Dixie Kumbaya Doorbell O Christmas Tree A Mighty Fortress
Star-Spangled Banner Michael Row the Boat Ashore Swing Low, Sweet Chariot We wish you a Merry Christmas Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
O Beautiful It's a Small World   Bonanza Pachelel Canon
Col. Bogey Major Triad   Look Down (Les Mis) Born Free
      Wedding March  
      On My Own (Les Mis)  
      Auld Lang Syne  
Tritone - up Tritone - down P5 - up P5 - down m6 - up
Maria Cool (up at beginning) OZ Flintstones Black Orpheus
The Simpsons YYZ 2001 Feelings Go down Moses
    Twinkle, Twinkle For Your Eyes Only A Day in the Life of a Fool
    Star Wars   Joanna (Sweeney Todd)
    Goldfinger   I Still Believe (Miss Saigon)
    Top Gun   Entertainer (3rd - 4th notes)
m6 - down M6 - up M6 - down m7 - up m7 - down
Love Story (Where do I begin?) It Came Upon a Midnight Clear Music of the Night (Phantom) Somewhere (There's a Place for Us) ???
  NBC Sweet Caroline Star Trek  
  My Bonnie Nobody knows the trouble I've seen Josie (Steeley Dan)  
    Over There    
    Come to Me, Bend to Me    
M7 - up M7 - down P8 - up    
Cast Your Fate to the Wind Hut of the Baba-Yaga Somewhere Over the Rainbow    
outside of Color My World   When you wish upon a Star    
1 & 3 of Bali Hai   Lonely Goatherd    
    Bali Hai    
    1979 (Smashing Pumpkins)    
Back to the Top

Harmonic Intervals

m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 Tritone
Nadia's Theme Chopsticks Silent Night Ode to Joy Little Drummer Boy Petrouchka
      Jingle Bells   Outward Pull
      Don't Cry For Me, Argentina    
P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 P8
James Bond Theme Amazing Grace ??? contracting inward upper note has upward pull great stability
Pink Panther Theme Mexican Hat Dance        
  Linus & Lucy        
Back to the Top

Go to Home Page Go to Musicianship Page

Applauded by an audience of 3
  • You must log in or register to be able to reply to this message.