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Music educators - Fun/effective ways to teach Bass Clef in a classroom?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by soong, May 15, 2011.


  1. soong

    soong

    May 10, 2007
    Sydney
    Hi all,

    As a new music teacher at my local middle/high school, Im teaching a class of 9th grade students Bass Clef.

    What are some experiences of effective, creative ways to get students to start reading Bass clef? I don't feel that teaching mnemonic devices is the way to go as its just another thing they need to recall.

    Anyone got any ideas?

    Dan :bassist:
     
  2. Billnc

    Billnc

    Aug 6, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    general music or instruments?
     
  3. soong

    soong

    May 10, 2007
    Sydney

    General; i have a class with mixed musicians and/or sing who are all at a pretty low to intermediate standard.
     
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    IMO, mnemonic devices are the way to go. It's easy for you and if you make up a fun mnemonic, they'll remember it.

    Or maybe make up some big flash cards and make some kind of game out of it.

    Good luck.
     
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    This is so true and such a great piece of advice because you need to be able to gauge the progress of students.

    I was classically trained when younger and some of my tutors were quite stale in what the taught. Yes the information was correct and in order but it was un-inspiring to learn. Then i got a new teacher she was different in that she explained to us that reading music was like reading a book. People only read books that they have an interest in....why would you waste your time and money in buying a book you have no interest in?
    At that time i loved boogie woogie piano and the Rock 'n' Roll music of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino etc. So she let me study their left hand playing and transcribe it to bass clef.

    Because of its uniformaty i found that i learned bass clef easy and with fun, the 1-4-5 was always visible. This ment that seeing and learning intervals was easy to recognise and remember. The transposing of such lines around the stave, again by writting and later by sight proved the worth of her techings. We always went back to being a class together to apply what we had learned to the Classical side of music and trade or experiences, after all it is what we were there for to learn to be in an Orchestra.
    She also taught us other clefs, in this way it sort of demistified the whole clef thing, after all it is just the same seven notes of the alphabet laid end to end to represent the pitches of notes and a clef is just a starting point. On the staff a note will alternate between the lines and spaces with each new octave, so she taught see the interval as well as the note.

    In the end it she was about inspiring you to read, then harness it for her own ends....Orchestral Music, and turning you into a well rounded player to cope with the task of playing.
     
  6. I'll only add one thing. Kids beg for group discussion, most of the time they only see lecture.

    Get them involved - break them into groups. How? I'll have to leave that to you. I would think lecture for 1/3 of the class then let them work in groups on a score for 1/3 of the time then you pull them back, for a review during the last 1/3 segment, telling them what you told them. Let them work the normal homework assignment in class in their group.

    Good luck.
     
  7. OmegaBass16

    OmegaBass16

    Jul 15, 2008
    I have a question, how can reading treble clef notes help learn a song for bass players?
    A treble note is ??? to a bass clef notes? I'm reading some easy to learn melodic songs
    but they are in treble clef notes and I'm having a hard time with the location on my bass.
     
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Simple answer is, having all the information. To see how a bass part interacts with a treble part can help in the understanding of music.

    The reference note is Middle C on a treble clef it is one ledger line under the staff, in the bass cleff it is one line above the staff.
    In piano music the Grand Staff is the use of both treble and bass clef showing together with the treble above the bass.
    Middle C is represented in different positions to cover the full range of instrumental pitches available to an orchestra ( or piano). There are also other ways to indicate a change of pitch of the staff by the use of 8va in the accedentals used to indicate a section is either one octave above or below the shown pitch.

    It can become quite involved so do some searches on The Grand staff or clefs to get how the relationship works.
    There are many other clefs as well such as alto, Tenor, Baritone etc, where Middle C is represented in different places. It is the same Middle C note, but it relates to the instrument to keep it mainly on the staff without the use of extra ledger lines above and below the standard five we always use.
     
  9. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Big +1 to them working in groups, maybe on different tasks and sharing/swapping what they have done and learned. Just keep moving 'em forwards, baby! :D

    Don't forget to tell them that the bass clef is a great big letter F and the dots are either side of the F line on the stave. Then get them to work out the rest of the spaces and lines in both directions from there. Maybe get them making instructional posters to display for younger students. They can create their own mnemonics, maybe with prizes for the cleverest or funniest. Get them transcribing some simple melodies or note patterns from treble clef to bass clef by dropping the notes an octave. Combine work on the bass clef with simple left hand keyboard work or work on their other instruments (bass, perhaps?). See if they can spot patterns comparing key signatures in treble and bass clef (each particular key retains same number of sharps or flats, but on different lines and spaces). Get them to write out different major and/or minor scales using bass clef, with accidentals or with key signatures. Give them notated ranges of different bass instruments on bass clef and ask them to find the highest and lowest notes each instrument can play on a piano keyboard and make up a part using the full range of the instrument, then write it out.

    Make it active, make it creative. Make it accessible, challenging, worthwhile, involving and fun.

    Hope that helps. :)
     

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