Solfege Hand Signs Activity

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Updated on Apr 27, 2016

Mention sight reading in music and most people think about being able to read sheet music – following the notes up and down a scale – even in a song you’ve never heard before. But there is another type of sight reading in use among music teachers and choir directors. Solfege signs are used to guide students through music that is new to them. Help your musically-inclined child learn to work with this fun system today.

What You Need:

  • Computer with Internet access and a printer

What You Do:

  1. Print out both the Solfege hand signs and Mary Had a Little Lamb.  
  2. Familiarize your child with the Solfege hand signs by going through the chart several times until she is comfortable shifting from one sign to another. 
  3. Now look at the music for Mary Had a Little Lamb. Help your child write the solfege names for the notes on the music. The first note in the song is mi, so when she writes out all of the solfege names it should be: mi, re, do, re, mi, mi, mi, re, re, re, mi, sol, sol, mi, re, do, re, mi, mi, mi, mi, re, re, mi, re, do.   
  4. Slowly sing through the song, but don’t sing the words to the song. Instead sing the solfege names and use the hand signs throughout. It will take several tries before you both can do it smoothly.
  5. Have your child put the sheet music where only she can see it. Now she can use the hand signs to lead you through it as you sing (mi, re, do . . .).  
  6. Expand on this activity by having your child pick another simple piece of music that you both know. Don’t ask her what she has chosen! After she transcribes it into solfege, let her guide you through it and see if you can tell her what song it is.

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