Walter Bitner

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As I Went Over Tawny Marsh

Loch Vennachar, Perthshire, by Harold Sutton Palmer (1854-1933) (click images to enlarge)


This gem, beloved by my choirs, was one of my favorite canons to teach to and sing with children, and a staple of my children’s choir repertoire for many years. I first came across it the early 1990s in a book I can’t find right now, a little red book of traditional songs in English used for students of English as a foreign language at schools in twentieth century continental Europe. I taught As I Went Over Tawny Marsh to my students at Blue Rock School and at most of the other elementary schools I taught at afterwards.

My students always called this song Tawny.


Solfège With Amadeus

SolfegePart4Part 4 of a 4-Part Series

Go to Part 1: The Joy of Solfège

Go to Part 2: The Legacy of Guido d’Arezzo

Go to Part 3: Teaching Music With Solfège

This Epilogue to my series of posts on Solfège recounts examples of solfège exercises I used in high school choir rehearsals, some anecdotes about singing Mozart’s Requiem on solfège syllables, and some unexpected things we learned from doing this.


Teaching Music With Solfège

Part3Part 3 in a 4-part series

Go to Part 1: The Joy of Solfège

Go to Part 2: The Legacy of Guido d’Arezzo

This is a simple but somewhat thorough description of the syllables for movable do solfège with la-based minor and how I applied them in my work as a teacher.  I do not claim this method as an example of haute Kodály, Gordon, or any other technique – for me solfège was always a means to an end, not an end in itself.  We used it for exercises to develop skills, and to learn notes accurately – and when these goals were achieved we left it behind.


The Legacy of Guido d’Arezzo

Part 2 in a 4-part series


Go to Part 1: The Joy of Solfège

Solfège is a practical method for teaching sight-singing (singing music from written notation).  Each note of the diatonic scale is assigned a solfège syllable.  This practice is called solmization.


The Joy of Solfège

SolfegePart1Part 1 in a 4-part series

Most of the country is still enjoying summer vacation, but here in Nashville the school year begins the first week of August – no lie.  This will be the first fall in many years that I am not starting a new school year as a teacher, although I am still vicariously experiencing it as a parent.  Forgive me if I wax nostalgic.

For all of my teaching career – save for 2008 – 2011 when I ran the piano studio at Nashville School of the Arts and simultaneously directed Music City Youth Orchestra – I was in some part, often for the most part, a singing teacher.  And so it is natural for my thoughts to turn, at this time of year, to the wonders of solfège.  For so many years, the use of this invaluable tool, the practice of this incomparable method was a staple of my daily life.  How many thousands of hours have I spent solfèging songs or vocal parts, or teaching students to do so, or doing it with them?  How could I have done my work without it?  Oh thou noble art. (more…)