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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Intonation Week

My students are still enjoying my weekly themes!  I wanted to post some ideas for INTONATION WEEK.  

1.  Listening tests

See how well students can distinguish in tune versus out of tune pitches.   One idea is to use the Listening Test I created a couple month ago:

Some districts block my sound files in this resource.  In that case, you would have to create your own audio clips.  I used Garage Band to record my clips.

2.  Use the 'bean-boozled' game to introduce intonation.  

Most students have an impeccable sense of taste and can tell what flavor of jelly bean they are eating...and if it tastes like coconut or rotten egg, for example.  They know what tastes good and what tastes bad.  Can their ears do the same thing with sound?  During rehearsal, ask students to focus on matching their intonation to make the notes 'taste' good.  If one section plays out of tune, ask for a volunteer to come and eat a jelly bean.  This game really gets the entire class focusing more carefully on pitch and intonation.

3.  Rob Landes Videos

There are some great videos from Rob Landes about playing by feel.  These are great for teaching students to develop muscle memory and not rely on tapes to play in tune.  You can even have students try to play blindfolded or with gloves on.

4.  Play 'What's in the box' with students.  

I like to show the Jimmy Fallon 'What's in the box' videos to introduce the game.  

I then let students play the game to see if they can determine objects in a box by feel.  You can use a box with holes cut in the sides - or there's a game you can buy:

We then try to play our intruments with perfect intonation by feel through the following challenges:  

  • Play in the dark with lights out focusing on good intonation.
  • Play with eyes closed
  • Drop left hand every time you play an open string in order to reset the hand by feel and play in tune.

5.  Use an app.

I just discovered an app called Intonia available for both Apple and Android.  All you do is play music and the app reads the intonation draws the pitch.  You can see if the pitch stays in tune or if it deviates.  It provides great data and an accurate visual to determine pitch accuracy.  I think it works best if it is projected on a screen so students can see the results as they play.

My class also does well with the TE tuner app projected to the front of the room on a screen.  I like to use it when practicing scales to see how many green happy faces my students can get as they play.  I also use TE tuner for drones for warm-ups.  

6.  Magnetic darts game

I LOVE this magnetic dart game.  I often get this game out when I want my class to focus on intonation because it provides such a great visual - showing that we want the pitch to be perfectly on target - exactly at the center of the pitch.  You can let students take a turn throwing darts if they play very well in tune.  This helps students put so much effort into their playing just for a chance to throw a dart.

7.  Just use tape

One time I had a student who was cutting an orange and accidentally cut open all of her fingers on her left hand.  She came to school with bandaids around the top of each finger.  She remarked that it was so much easier to play on the tips of her fingers since her fingers were wrapped.  That gave me the idea to have my students put scotch tape around the tops of each finger.  THIS DOES MIRACLES FOR INTONATION.  Students play with awesome position and they really focus on what their left fingers are doing.  It sounds weird - but it totally works!

I hope you have a very happy INTONATION WEEK!

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