Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A postscript to last week's article about counting ...

Here's a story to illustrate a creative strategy for keeping your place in the music.

"For the Future" is one of the songs I performed with the Binkley Baptist Church choir last Sunday from Malcolm Dalglish's Hymnody of Earth. It's a round that keeps coming back around with the dulcimer part repeated six times. It's a fun piece. The dulcimer part is plucked and consists of a D pattern repeated four times, a G pattern repeated three times, then one A pattern that moves back to the beginning.

  • The first time through the dulcimer plays an intro, alone.
  • The second time the first round of voices begin, in unison.
  • The third time the round begins, with all voices joining in at designated times.
  • The fourth, fifth, sixth times voices are weaving in and out. Lovely!
  • Tags and retard at the end.

Here's the trick: (Pay attention, now! If you ever play this you'll want to know.) When the round begins during the third time through, the dulcimer must play the D pattern five times!

In my practice everything was working out pretty well the first three times through ... up to and through the point where the round began. I could successfully play the intro alone, then with voices in unison, then the odd part when the round began. After that I knew I had three more times to the end, but I was having a hard time counting to 3! There were too many things being counted at the same time and "1 - 2 - 3" just wasn't getting it. Then I came up with this bright idea ... I named each part after one of my children.

I would think of Noah while playing Round 4. Abi was on my mind during Round 5. When I got to Round 6 and envisioned Andrew I knew I was finished. Ha, ha! It worked!
Plucking "For the Future" with Binkley Baptist Church choir

What creative strategies have you used successfully to keep your place in the music?


  1. I have envisioned a hill we used to live on and named a certain section "Carmichael Hill on a snowy day" and that helped me memorize the tune "Icy Rain"
    Carol R

    1. That's creative, Carol! Forming an image that represents the shape of a tune, or a section of a tune, can be a very powerful learning tool.