Thursday, 13 October 2011
Mary Had A Little Lamb
- ½ beat
- 1 beat
- 2 beats
Music – introductory level
The treble clefs have been beautifully drawn, but there is no hiding some fundamental errors on this blackboard.
Firstly, the time signature is written as both ‘4/4’ and ‘c’. This is tautologous as ‘c’ means common time (4/4), so just one of these will do. Also, there is no need to put the time signature on every line unless it has changed, and there are definitely no mixed meters in Mary Had a Little Lamb.
There is a good attempt at an explanation of the different lengths of notes, though there are actually no quavers in this particular piece, so the teacher might be introducing the concept too early. The dotted minim might not be necessary either, and it is unclear what the minim with a quaver flag is meant to be. The teacher should also draw a semibreve for the last note ('snow').
The biggest error, however, is that each stave has only four lines instead of five. This would make it very difficult for the students to know which notes to play. Reading from the bottom, the first notes would be B A G A | B B B, which sounds correct. But reading from the top, the notes would be D C B C | D D D, which sounds wrong as there is only a semitone between the second and third notes. Imagine if half the class were playing one version and the other half the other – it would sound terrible and the class’s confidence might be badly affected if they felt they couldn’t master even this simple melody. (To be honest, when teaching this level of music it inevitably sounds awful when played tutti, so the teacher really isn’t doing his ears any favours here.)
An experienced musician would see that the positioning of the treble clef tells us which line is G (hence its alternative name of the G-clef), but it is unlikely that students of this level would know that. After adding the missing line to the top of the stave, the tune itself is basically correct, though usually the last two notes of bar four go up (to D in this case). The fact that the last note is a G helps to indicate that this version is in the key of G so needs a # sign on the F line just after the treble clef.
A good mnemonic for remembering the notes on the treble clef is, reading from the bottom line, Every Good Boy Deserves Football. Or, perhaps in the case of this classroom, Flagellation.
5/10 A good effort, marred by a silly error.
(Many thanks to Lucy for sending this picture in.)