Name: Suzanne Konings
Main subject: Master of Music Theory
Research coach: Lázsló Nemes
Title of research: What's in a name? The relation between pitch notation, note names and sight singing in different forms of pitch notation and in different ways of approaching pitch notation
Are absolute note names necessary in sight singing, when reading pitch notation on the stave relatively? Mental process: one sees ‘do’ (a name that indicates a function) and thinks ‘F’ (indicating a pitch).
Are relative note names necessary in sight singing, when reading pitch notation on the stave ‘absolute’? Mental process: one sees ‘F’ (a name that indicates a pitch) and thinks ‘do’ (indicating a function).
Sight singing is a part of almost every music theory curriculum in conservatoires. But one might ask oneself why lessons in sight singing are needed for students who can already read music notation? The answer usually is: to develop the aural imagination in relation to music notation. The way students have learned to read music notation in the first place did not develop this skill well enough then?
Experiences in teaching made me think that we need functional note names (unique sound names) to be able to aurally understand pitch in staff notation, and that the absolute note names (unique pitch names) may be an instrumentally useful, but less effective step ‘in between’ in aural imagination. From existing literature and recorded tests with students performing special designed scores I hoped to learn more about connecting the inner hearing world to music notation in the most effective way.
Suzanne Konings studied music theory and musicology and has been the head of the music theory department in the Royal Conservatoire The Hague since 2004. From 2009 she has been specialising in teaching music according to the Kodály concept. Together with colleagues in and outside the conservatoire she is organising training programmes for teachers and musicians in elementary schools, music schools and higher music education. She teaches musicianship classes for students in the Royal Conservatoire and the National Youth Choir of the Netherlands.
teaching, sight singing, absolute pitch, relative pitch, music theory, Research by teachers of the Royal Conservatoire