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Form/Patterns in music train the mind to see and hear patterns in other languages.

Language development, and even brain development, is largely based on the ability to recognize similarities and differences in visual perceptions.  Reading is the ability of the brain to make associations with the visual field.  Music has far fewer symbols than English or other written languages, pattern recognition is easier to grasp and build upon as a foundation.  As the brain becomes stronger recognizing the musical patterns, visual and auditory, the ability to recognize patterns in other languages improves as well.

When do you start? 
From the very first lesson, to the last song read, before going to middle school, pattern recognition, or FORM, is identified in the scores or songs read.  Even in utilizing the rhythm drills, FORM is ever present.  Later FORM is reinforced through pattern identification within the individual FORMATS.

Each FORMAT will symbolize form as it relates to measured BEATS, RHYTHMS, PITCHES, and sometimes TEXT.  FORM is also beneficial to learning fingerings for keyboard or recorder and playing patterns on percussion instruments.

When reading a FORMAT, the instructor will habitually ask, “Raise your hand if you see a pattern.”   In time, students will begin to raise their hands after reading the chart one time.  A second reading will bring more offers of identification, before the question is even asked.  The students have transitioned into seeking the answer while reading.

“Raise your hand if you see any patterns.” 
”If this staff is an apple, what could this staff be called?” 
”Is the beat pattern the same, or is the pitch pattern the same? 
”Are there any smaller patterns within the larger patterns?” 
”If this staff is “A,” What would this staff be called?  And this one?”

“So, if these two are the same, what’s this staff?” (DIFFERENT)  “It’s O.K.!” 
”No it isn’t.”
“Yes it is.  If it wasn’t different, it would sound boring.  Sometimes being different is a good thing.” 

As a teaching strategy and skill development, suggested questions for pattern recognition are included on many formats.

Will FORM be mastered?
Students will master the concept of SIMPLE patterns very quickly.  The increasing difficulty in song selection, as the student is promoted, will reinforce and strengthen FORM’S importance in learning, writing, or performing music.

Who benefits? 
The benefits from pattern/form recognition and use will be a life long reward.  From early brain development in language skills, to creative application of FORM in new arenas, learning FORM in life, is learning LIFE .

Curriculum tie-ins:
Pattern recognition is a universal concept; Language Arts, Math, Science, Health, Social Studies, Physical Education, Computer Science, Art, all have pattern recognition at their core of instruction, and creativity.
The General Music Curriculum will introduce this concept FIRST.
Through a collaboration of all disciplines FORM begins but never ends!

  • Listen to these four phrases. Using letters A, B, C, or D, label the pattern or form of the rhythm. Melody.
  • Using colored markers, draw quarter notes showing a Rondo Form in colors.
  • What is this pattern or form called, A B A C A D A E A?
  • Can the melody’s pitch pattern be different from the rhythm pattern?
  • How does Form help in learning to sing or play a music selection.
  • What other subjects use Form to learn new information?  How?
  • What is the Form/Pattern of a major scale? Minor?
  • Can form help in playing instruments?  How?