Several of my students were asking for some help with the tonalities.
How do I know which one is which? How do I keep them all straight? What are some ways to "get into" a tonality?
In an effort to answer these questions, I went "live" on YouTube to try to offer some assistance with a Tonality Tutoring Session.
In the video, I explain 4 ways to ground oneself in a new tonality.
By going through each these 4 steps, the pitches and harmonic functions - the essence of each tonality - will start to become as normal as Major after awhile.
Dr. Gordon created a standardized Tonal Sequence for MLT teachers to use before beginning tonal Learning Sequence Activities. This tonal sequence served the purpose of establishing tonality so that patterns weren't happening out of context. (Think of it as a brief "Whole.")
In my summer certification course for the Gordon Institute of Music Learning, my instructor, Dr. Alison Reynolds, provided us a useful trick for remembering the Tonal Sequence.
She advised us to think of it as phone number: 565-4327 (extension 1).
If we sing those scale degrees with solfege in a tonality (for example, in major: So La So Fa Mi Re Ti Do), those are all of the pitches inherent in a tonality.
It is very useful to get the essence of the tonality.
Once you have sung the Tonal Sequence, I find it's helpful to stress and repeat the pitches in each tonality that define each tonality.
Inherent in each tonality are harmonic functions based on the unique way that thirds are stacked.
Although each tonality contains 7 harmonic functions - one based on each pitch - there are usually 2-3 chords that tend to define the tonality and are used more often than others.
For example, in Major and Minor, the 3 essential chords are I-IV-V and i-iv-V.
Get the Tonality Cheat Sheet here.
When I first began my tonality journey, I thought of the modes as merely scales that one could use in Jazz Improvisation. I soon became aware that each mode (tonality) can also be a compositional canvas upon which one can paint a song.
In those formative years, I found it necessary to have a "Go To" song in the more unfamiliar tonalities to jumpstart my audiation.
Here are several "Go To" songs.
Andy Mullen is a teacher, folk musician, multi-instrumentalist, recovering songwriter, and lifelong learner. He has taught all levels of students in a number of subjects, and is currently a middle school teacher and curriculum coach in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mr Mullen holds Masters degrees in Music Education and School Administration, as well as certification from the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) in Elementary General and Early Childhood Music. He is currently entertaining Doctoral scholarships.