Pitch Hand Signs For The Music Teacher
Curwen devised the sol-fa hand-signs (see these as illustrated in The Standard Course of 1901) which are currently employed as part of the Kodaly method but in slightly modified form. From the cognitive developmental perspective of Jerome Bruner, they represent a useful teaching strategy that builds on both the enactive and iconic stages of child development.
Hand signs, also borrowed from the teachings of Curwen, are performed during singing exercises to provide a visual aid.( Houlahan and Tacka 2015:156) This technique assigns to each scale degree a hand sign that shows its particular tonal function. For example, do, mi, and so are stable in appearance, whereas fa and ti point in the direction of mi and do, respectively. Likewise, the hand sign for re suggests motion to do, and that of la to so. Kodály added to Curwen’s hand signs upward/downward movement, allowing children to actually see the height or depth of the pitch (Wheeler 1985:15). The signs are made in front of the body, with do falling about at waist level and la at eye level. Their distance in space corresponds with the size of the interval they represent (Choksy 1999:14). In 2016, computer scientists at Northwestern University invented an instrument which is controlled by the hand signs, facilitating their learning.
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