RE a Drop of Golden Sun!

by Erin Keller, Voice and Piano instructor at The Lesson Studio

For me, one of the most valuable things I have ever learned is solfege. Solfege is what we call the language of the singing scale, also known as Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do. Solfege is very useful for many reasons, including but not limited to sight-singing music for the first time, hearing, learning, and singing intervals (the “distance” between two notes), learning scales, hearing melodies in your head and translating them into more concrete or even written ideas, and also figuring out what the notes are in a song you are trying to learn from a recording. I was in a children’s choir when I was young, and I learned solfege very well by the age of 10. Because of this, I could sight-read any music you put in front of me by the age of 10. To this day, I still use these skills all the time.

How does solfege work?

Being a singer and looking at notes on the page, it is very hard at first to have any idea as to what to do. When you play an instrument there are specific things you do with your hands in relation to the strings or keys or buttons, etc. to create each pitch on the staff. Singers do not have buttons. For singers, sound is created by two small muscles inside of your larynx (the thing that moves up and down in your throat when you swallow) called your vocal cords, which vibrate very quickly together. The pitch gets higher when your vocal cords get longer and lower when your vocal cords get fatter and shorter (like when you pluck a rubber band). Your vocal cords stretch to the exact length needed for each pitch because you think of what note you want to sing and hear it in your mind ahead of time. (AMAZING) This means that having a clear sense of pitch in your mind enables you to be accurate with pitch with your voice. Solfege is in essence a set of imaginary brain buttons for singers to use in order to sing the correct notes in tune. This system dates back to as early as the 8th century and was created by a man named Guido D’Arezzo. Another man named John Curwen took this system a step further in the 1800s and created hand signs for each of the tones in the solfege scale. They are as follows:


Using the hand signs helps you to create a more physical and visual connection to the notes in the scale in terms of how high and low they are in relation to the other tones. Doing solfege without the hand signs is not nearly as effective, so it is strongly encouraged to utilize the hand signs whenever you are using solfege.
Here is an example of a C Major scale labeled with the solfege syllables:

If you come work with me as a voice student I will teach you solfege, and we will start out with the above scale and work our way up to reading music at varying difficulty levels. These skills will benefit you in many ways by increasing your ability to learn songs you like, improving your intonation, helping you locate and navigate the break in your voice between head voice and chest voice, air flow and breath support, and many other things. This is only one small part of the voice lesson, though. You will also be working on various vocal techniques associated with vowel formation, breath support, resonation, flexibility, strength, chest voice and head voice, and laryngeal positioning. Of course we would also work on repertoire of your choosing, including but not limited to pop music, classical music, country music, jazz, rock, folk, music in different languages, and much more. With my varied experience and your motivation to work hard, we can accomplish whatever you desire, helping you connect with music in a new and special way that is meaningful and rewarding to you.

Erin Keller, Voice and Piano Instructor at The Lesson Studio


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2 Responses to “RE a Drop of Golden Sun!”

  1. soundsorceress Says:

    Reblogged this on SoundSorceress Studio and commented:
    Never underestimate the power of solfege. Check this out.

  2. lilly Says:


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