TEACHING Pitch to Beginners

TEACHING Pitch to Beginners

by | Feb 17, 2023 | Ear Training, Improvisation, Teaching Ideas

5 Fun & Creative ways to Teach PITCH in the First Month of Music Lesson

High and low sounds is a seemingly simple concept isn’t it? Sometimes we tend to skip spending time teaching it. Teaching the concept of pitch to beginners is actually very important.

Think about it, we’ve taught about high sounds and low sounds. Now if you’re teaching the piano we are trying to tell them that the right side is high and the left side is low. That connection may not be instinctive for everyone. If we are teaching the guitar, we tell them that if we move towards the right side on the fretboard, we’re going higher … or wait … is it the left side? Or is it actually downwards? It depends on the way you are looking at that guitar, isn’t it? Are you confused yet?

Well, yes this concept is simple to understand when students are with us in class, but when they go home and all these doubts start creeping in, is when it becomes impossible. So this makes it very important to teach them about pitch. Specifically, high and low sounds. Here we’ve got 5 simple ways to teach this in a fun and play way that is going to make this concept memorable.

If you’re more of a listener than a reader, you can scroll all the way to the bottom to catch our YouTube video as well.

What’s that sound?

Just play some high sounds and low sounds on your instrument and ask the students what it soun likeds. If they are not sure what you mean, you can give them examples like keys, bells, thunder and airplanes. Something or the other is definitely gonna hit a chord with them when they realise what kind of an answer you’re looking for. Push them in the direction of birds for high sounds and lions for low sounds.

Watch as the younger ones become these animals themselves as they play with you. 

The more the students try to interact with these games, the better. Include in your conversation that birds fly high in the sky and lions walk low on the ground. This sure will make them remember which sound is high and which is low.

Bird voice, lion voice

You can take up any song of the student’s choice or something that is age appropriate. This time ask them to sing in their bird voice or their lion voice. What does that mean? Pick up any song and play it as high as possible and then as low as possible. 

Even the reluctant singers tend to join in as you do this!

The task here is not to sing. So students shouldn’t feel any judgment on their singing. The task is to demonstrate a high voice or low voice. Furthermore, as soon as you tell them to sing as high or as low as possible, it sure is going to be a laughter filled challenge! 

Where’s that going?

Play a set of sounds that are moving either from the low side to the high side or vice versa and ask the students which direction the pitch is moving. In the few weeks that you do this, you can go from playing arpeggios to a set of chromatic notes challenging the students with the increasing level of difficulty.

See as the challenge gets the students to listen more closely.

Make sure the game is fair though. Get your students to come with challenges for you as well. This will set them exploring the instrument and learning by experimenting with the movement of sounds. The students will be teaching pitch to themselves eventually!

Play high, play low

We’ll always have those eager students who want to start playing their instrument as soon as possible. Do anything else with them and their mind will wander. Well let’s use that! But every game has some rules, isn’t it? Assign a set of sounds that the students can play. You can show it to them on the instrument or if your students have a clear idea of the instrument you teach already, you can ask them to choose any 5 high and 5 low sounds. Ask them to randomly play the notes of any one set of sounds (either high or low) steadily. The game now is to switch between the two sets of sounds, as soon as they hear the instructions high! or low!   

They are learning through improvisation!

While this is just a game for the students, what they’re really doing is improvising and practicing quick thinking. This requires the students to immediately let go of their thoughts and accept the instructions they receive. This is a very important skill for anyone learning music.

Touch the sky, touch the floor

Everyone loves things that rhyme. Rhymes are simply pleasing to the ear. This little rhyme instructs us exactly what is required of the game!

Touch the sky when the sound is high, touch the floor when the sound is low!

Keep playing music on your instrument (or you could carefully choose recorded music as well). The students should raise their hands up in the air when the sound is high and touch the ground when the sound they hear is low.  A nice little warm up for the body, ear and mind that makes teaching pitch ever so simple.  

So these are my 5 fun and creative ways to teach PITCH in the first month of music lessons. You can also go through our articles about ways to incorporate beat and rhythm in the first month of music lessons. One tip that I definitely want to leave you with is to not do one activity for too long. While we are trying to teach our students something, these are all just games and should be kept light and fun.