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The Interval Trick

Disclaimer: This is probably not groundbreaking news for a lot of choral directors. But, sometimes its nice to have those little reminders! You forget what you know until you remember what you know, you know?

(I know you know what I'm talking about).

Too far? I'll stop now.

I was working with my classes on hearing and singing skips during a round of follow the hand today, and they were doing really well skipping within arpeggiated chords (Do-Mi-Sol, or Re-Fa-La), so I decided to just test them and see what they could get on their own.


They were doing really well, but of course had a hard time hearing and finding some intervals initially. With my 6th grade students, going from Do-Fa is tough right now.


The voice in your head sounded like Gru, didn't it?

Then I had a light bulb moment. Remember back in undergrad theory where your professor gave you interval associations? Am I the only one? My theory teachers were awesome. I remember getting a sheet of paper with song associations for each interval. Don’t ask me where it is now...but I know I had one at one point.


Anyway, back to 6th grade. When they were stuck on Do-Fa, I stopped them and told them I was going to show them a trick. I explained that Do-Fa sounds exactly like “Here Comes the Bride.” We sang it, of course, and then I started them on do again. Before I gave the signal to move to Fa I asked them to sing the song in their head, and then bam! Success.


It’s amazing how you forget about these little tricks you learned so long ago, until they politely smack you in the face right when you need them!

After their excitement over Here Comes the Bride, I gave them a few more for reference:


Octave- Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Do-La: "way up high" (also from Somewhere Over the Rainbow)


Tried to explain a tritone with Maria from Westside Story. Completely went over their heads. But The Simpsons theme song? Bullseye.

A few more of my favorites are:

Do-Sol: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Do-Di: Jaws, duh

I don’t necessarily think that we need to teach interval associations for every possible option, but it’s definitely a quick little trick to have on hand when a group is struggling to find a certain pitch association.


Are there any other song associations you use that are really easy for your students to identify with?

Additional Resources

Fear not! I did the Googling for you.

Here are some links I found with lists for every possible interval for when your kids are having one of those "stuck" moments.  Just be careful, because I found a few errors here and there.

(I liked that this one included YouTube videos for reference)

(This one identifies “modern” uses of each interval...something your kids are more likely to recognize)

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