What is especially important for this exercise?
The song used in the exercise should be familiar to all the students and simple enough because the exercise has so many other complicated elements added to it, and also all the rhythms used in the song should be familiar to the group beforehand. The most important thing for the teacher is to prepare well before starting with this kind of exercise. Revisiting and repeating all the learned topics with the students must be done well in advance, because there is no time to return to specifics in the middle of the exercise.
This exercise is very interactive between the students and also the teacher who checks on the students’ work during the lesson. We did some thinking together and then they worked independently again and back and forth like that. For me the final result is something we create all together, although everyone gives their own individual input by creating their own rhythmic pattern. And of course this would be something we would perform in the MuHa Concert.
What is a MuHa Concert?
In Finnish the subject of musical theory is called musical perception and it abbreviates to MuHa. In the concert all the students of MuHa perform a group performance prepared during their MuHa-lessons over the semester.
The power of group
When the students are aware that they are expected to create something of their own and it’s no use in copying the one sitting next to them, that’s when they are at the same time obliged and encouraged to create something. Also knowing that everything will be put together for the final result is something that they usually appreciate and enjoy. It was a bit of a mess but we started and finished at the same time and were together in the beginning of each bar, at least I tried to be clear in my signaling! This is actually the basis for most of my lessons; doing things together and not just me having a monologue in front of the class. A group assignment with everyone’s individual input.
Learning by doing
When the students have to invent a rhythm they are forced to think about time values and that’s when they notice if some bar has too many beats etc. That is also a great way for me as a teacher to see everyone’s level and skills.I am able to observe and evaluate their rhythmic skills on paper and in action and the same goes for singing – I think it’s a very variable exercise. My goal is for the performances to be very well prepared and that all the students feel comfortable in performing them. A good performance experience always grows one’s self esteem.
Teacher: Silja Hurtig-Veteläinen, Lapland Music Institute
Silja Hurtig-Veteläinen is mother of three children and music theory and perception teacher at Lapland Music Institute. She graduated from Sibelius Academy in 2010 in music theory. She also studied violin and piano, composition and choir conducting. Her pedagogical principals hold music and students’ independence in limelight. She gets inspired by students who continuously learn new things in the amazing world of music.
Download the exercise here:
Download PDF of the Finnish song Sirkuskulkue here: