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Chord Root Cousin Songs

Chord Root Cousin Songs

By Andy Mullen 

MLT, Practical Applications, Tunes for Teaching

Interested in introducing your students to the tonalities in a gentle manner? Then singing bass lines with only two functions might be the way to go for you! 

Sometimes, the leaps associated with singing bass lines can be intimidating for new or developing singers. That's why singing in tonalities besides major and minor can actually be a bit easier! Why? Because most of the unfamiliar tonalities or modes usually have a tonic and a sub-tonic as their primary harmonic functions. Therefore, most pitches of the bass line are only a step away! 

Introducing Chord Root Cousin Songs

That is why I composed and created these Chord Root Cousin Songs. They each follow a similar melodic and harmonic structure so your students can focus on the bass line. 

The Tunes

Teaching Procedures

Here are some possible ways to use these tunes to acculturate them to some unfamiliar tonalities. 

1. Sing or play one of the tunes for students, perhaps using Rote Song Procedure. If you are singing them, I have provided the notation for you below. 

If your students are at the Verbal Association level of learning, then you might also establish and name the tonality and tell them the resting tone.  

2. After students are familiar with the tune, show them the harmonic functions using function fingers. Because they are very repetitive, and are of a limited range, students will pick up on this step very quickly, especially if they are merely following your function fingers. If you would prefer to use a slideshow as a visual representation, you can use these slideshows I made for my classes. Audio is embedded in them, as well. 

3. Finally, see if students can perform the chord root melody/bass line independent of you while you sing the melody. 

4. As an extension, see if students can be divided up in pairs or small groups and see if half of the pair/group can sing the melody while the other half sings the chord roots. And if you don't think that 2nd graders can do this, you are plumb wrong! Check out these videos by the wonderful Heather Shouldice whose 2nd graders are doing this very thing. (Parenthetically, Heather's wonderful teaching inspired these tunes in the first place!)

How to Teach the Language of Music

Get access to this free eBook to discover the beauty of sequential teaching in a Music Learning Theory-inspired classroom. 

About the author, Andy Mullen

Andy Mullen is a teacher, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, recovering singer-songwriter, and lifelong learner. He has taught all levels of students in a number of subjects, and is currently a middle school general music and choir teacher in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mr Mullen holds Masters degrees in Music Education and School Administration, and serves on the faculty for the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary General Music and Choir. He is the author of "MLT Any Music Teacher Can Du...De," "The Literate Musician" and "Fifty Tunes for Teaching," and the composer of the children's album, "Chucka Chucka Wawa."

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