“House of the Rising Sun”: review and reinforce

There are three points to this 5-10 minute activity (in decreasing order of important): (1) review and reinforce use of accidentals in the minor mode, (2) model processing music by ear, and (3) locate by feel the use of the V chord. Here’s my plan:


Use the four-line basic tune of “House of the Rising Sun” (performed by Animals).

  • Provide them with the text so that they can sing along with the words (I think this enhances memorization speed)
  • Have them process the contour by contouring the melody with their hand as they sing.
  • Work out the #s as a class.
  • Ask them if we’re done (No… we didn’t intentionally decide which version of ^7 was in use).
  • Hope that someone refers back to the idea of circling all ^6s and ^7s, and making an intentional decision about whether it is a low ^6 or ^7 (no accidental necessary) or a high ^6 or ^7 (accidental necessary).
  • Finish by singing it on #s and having them snap when they hear V chords (secondary goal…)

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Post-class reflection 

This class was very full of activities, and the point of the class was to work on harmonizing melodies by ear. So, it seems appropriate that this activity of review and reinforcement of a older skill took the last five minutes.

I wrote out the text to the opening verse on the board.  We listened and memorized (two hearings). Then, one line at a time, we sang back on “la,” processed the scale degrees silently, then sang out loud on number.  I copied the correct scale degrees on the board.

Finally, I circled all ^7 and ^6 (there were no ^6s). Then I asked them why I circled those numbers.  No one remembered the idea of making an intentional decision about which version of ^6 or ^7 was in use, so I think that the goal of review and reinforce was much needed. After making sure they understood that you have to think about chromatic inflections, even when it doesn’t feel  chromatic, we identified which ^7s were leading tones.  We sang along with the recording one final time and then left.  I did not have time to have students locate the dominant, which is too bad.  It would have tied in nicely to the rest of the class activities!

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