When I first learned about the pentatonic scale, I was taught to associate it with the Asian culture. I have since learned that the pentatonic scale is universal to all nations, and most countries have folk music written using this scale. Old Dan Tucker is one of my favorite American examples. The easiest way to play a pentatonic scale on the piano is to play all of the black keys, beginning with F#. The solfege for the scale is Do, Re, Mi, Sol, La, Do.Using the pentatonic scale for children’s voices is a powerful technique because the scale is instinctive to them by nature. A child singing “na-na-na-na-na-na, you ca-n’t catch me!” is using the scale. Ring-a-round-the-Rosies, Mary had a little lamb, and Rain, Rain, Go Away also use it. The Kodaly and Orff methods for teaching music to children exclusively use it for their beginning students.
My challenge? Find a way to incorporate the scale into your teaching, especially parents teaching music appreciation to your children through singing. Children who have a hard time singing in tune can especially benefit with a steady diet of pentatonic music because the hardest intervals to hear (the minor 2nd, augmented 4th, and major 7th) are completely eliminated.
Here is an interesting video that shows the intuitiveness of the scale in action:
My name is Tamsyn and I love music. I got my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from USU. I spent many years teaching private piano lessons until I had children of my own. I have attended several children workshops on how to teach children music. I really like the Kodaly method, but have adapted a lot of different techniques for my own children.
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