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A Coeducational, College Preparatory School for Ages 3 Through Grade 12

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Relative Pitch Tunes More Than Ears in Lower School

On any given day, a peek into Becca Bryan's elementary music classroom reveals students improving their abilities to work together in unison and harmony. Familiar sounds include clapping, snapping, and a percussion instrument or two. During the pandemic, singing is not an option. So, students are leaning into the ukulele to attune to one another. 

They are working on developing their "relative" pitch skills. Once Mrs. Bryan gives the students the standard G, they tune C, E, and A "relative" to the G. Students then play the four notes for each other one at a time and help bring all of the instruments into unison. 

Mrs. Bryan believes training ears is important for many reasons, especially as it teaches students to listen for accuracy and be in tune with others. Training ears to perceive differences in pitch leads to perceiving differences in body awareness, speech, and language. It is the basis for being on the same page or in harmony with one another and recognizing when we are not.

"These perceptual skills open up the world to us," said Mrs. Bryan. "What would happen if you had monovision or only two types of taste buds?  God created us to enjoy his creation and that begins with perceiving it."