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Rhythm Syllables
Journal of Research in Music Education

Date: Sat, 1 Nov 1997

Colley, B. 1987. A comparison of syllabic methods for improving rhythm literacy.

Journal of Research in Music Education 35, 4: 221-235.

This is the article which I was referring to, which compared alternative methods of teaching rhythm. Second- and third-graders were divided into four groups--a control group, a group which used Kodaly syllables, a group which used Gordon syllables, and a group which used meaningful words, such as "Washington" and "Mississippi." The four groups were pre-tested and post-tested on recognition, dictation, and performance. The most significant finding was that the Washington-Mississippi group scored best in the performance post-test.

Sometimes, even university professors are not above applying words to rhythms. In the Mozart G major concerto, my violin teacher asks me to think "Thomas" when a phrase ends on a descrescending trochee, and "Robertson" when a phrase ends on a descrescending dactyl.

Even after reading the Colley article, I continue to have my students read "eighth" for an eighth note, "quart" for a quarter note, and "half" for a half note. I argue that calling a spade a spade might pay off more richly in the long run.

In other words, I'm too opinionated to listen to the facts.