The Instigator
VocMusTcrMaloy
Pro (for)
Winning
10 Points
The Contender
QT
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

Sight-Singing SOLFEGE VS. NUMBERS

Do you like this debate?NoYes+4
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/4/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,471 times Debate No: 17402
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (26)
Votes (3)

 

VocMusTcrMaloy

Pro

I would like to debate with a music educator, a music major, or a professional musician concerning the method that is the best for teaching sight-singing and general musicianship. My position will be that the use of scale degree numbers is superior to solfege in teaching sight-singing for the following reasons:

1) Numbers are part of a student's vocabulary at ANY POINT prior to studying music. Solfege requires taking precious learning time to teach new material. This time can be better used to teach other musical concepts.

2) Numbers are part of familiar culture. Solfege was adapted from the Gregorian hymn, "Ut Queant Laxis" by Guido d' Arezzo. Guido's idea was great for his era; however, "Ut Queant Laxis" is no longer part of most anyone's culture at this point in history.

3) Numbers INSTANTLY indicate "high" and "low" pitches. Solfege only does this after the system is learned.

4) Numbers are used in identifying intervals (major third, perfect fifth, et, al.), and roman numeral chord symbols (I, IV, vi, et. al.) so they can be integrated with a study of music theory. Solfege does not lend itself to integration with any other musical learning.
QT

Con

Clarifications:

My opponent has failed to properly clarify the resolution. Therefore, I will provide the following definitions to ensure a clear and effective debate.

Sight-singing: To perform music without preparation or the aid of an instrument.

Solfège: A system using a set of syllables to denote scale degree or location of a note on a staff.


Arguments:


There has been a long-standing debate as to which sight-singing method should be used and which method produces the best results. However, scholarly research articles have not identified any particular sight-singing system as being superior to the others.

For instance, let’s consider a study which attempted to identify relationships between the sight-singing scores of high-school students and the instructional methods employed by their teachers. This study found that students who reported using the solfège system scored slightly higher than students using the numbers system. Nevertheless, this result was not statistically significant at the 99% confidence level. Therefore, the authors concluded that, “No significant relationships were found among student sight-singing scores and reported sight-singing instructional methods.” (1)

Numerous other studies have arrived at a similar conclusion. As one scholarly research article noted, “Characteristics appearing significantly more often among high scorers included: region/state choir, private voice or piano lessons, playing an instrument, membership in instrumental ensemble, sight-singing individually outside class, and director giving individual sight-singing tests...Sight-singing system used made no significant difference." (2)

Clearly, research has shown that it does not really matter which sight-singing instructional method is used, particularly in secondary and post-secondary settings. Therefore, the use of scale degree numbers is not necessarily superior to solfège.


Rebuttal:


Contrary to my opponent’s claims, the solfège system is not inherently complicated. Beginning students only need to be familiar with the seven main syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti. Learning this simple system takes only a very short period of time.

My opponent also points out that numbers are used for many things in music. However, this does not necessarily imply that the use of scale degree numbers is superior to solfège. When a student begins using a counting system to describe pitches, there may be some uncertainty as to which usage of numbers is intended: rhythm, pitch, volume, or something else.


Conclusion:


As I’ve clearly demonstrated above, the particular sight-singing method that students use does not appear to have an influence on their overall success. Therefore, teachers should feel free to use which ever method they feel most comfortable with.


References:


1. http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu...
2. http://jrm.sagepub.com...
Debate Round No. 1
VocMusTcrMaloy

Pro

First, I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. �I had hoped to debate an expert in the field, as both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in music, with my masters being in music education. �I also have 14 years of experience teaching vocal music from pre-K through college. � My opponent informed me she was still in high school, so the debate will be a little off balanced. �In the comments section, she said the debate should be a fun debate. �Because I do not have a contender who is a music education expert, I agree to proceed as a fun debate. �I hope the debate is informative.

Secondly, I found ddo in a google search. �I looked at a couple of debates, liked what I saw and joined. �Immediately after joining, I posted this debate, so this is my first posted debate. �(I have since accepted and finished a debate and posted a third debate in which I am currently engaged). �I apologize for the lack of organization in this debate and for the failure to post definitions. � I accept my opponent's definitions. �I would like to clarify her definition of solfege to include the specific syllables, "do" (some systems use "ut" for the first syllable), "re, mi, fa, so" (or sol) "la," and "ti." �The solfege syllables came from the Latin hymn, Ut Queant Laxis. �Guido d' Arezzo, a music theorist of the 11th century, noticed that the first syllables of each stanza of the hymn formed a major scale, and used those syllables to teach the scale. [1]

Rebuttal:

My opponent has quoted studies that determined the value of solfege and numbers to be equal in teaching sight-singing. �Let me remind the reader of the original premise of this debate in the first paragraph of the first round:
"I would like to debate…concerning the method that is the best for teaching sight-singing and general musicianship." Solfege has no value to the musician or music teacher outside of sight-singing. �

For example: I am currently teaching elementary music. �This year I focused on teaching theory to my kindergarten students. �They know lines and spaces on both treble and bass clefs. �They know all 15 major key signatures. �They name all 13 intervals in the octave (including perfect unison) every time they come to class. �They know the four types of major triads and can identify them on a keyboard. �They can define the diatonic, pentatonic, chromatic, and whole-tone scales. �They know that the major scale consists of all perfect intervals and all major intervals (PU, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, M7, and P8). �They also know that all triads have a root (1) a third (3) and a fifth (5). �In the last quarter of the year, I began teaching sight-singing using numbers. �My students quickly learned and were doing exceptionally well. �My students instantly knew that the "3" in the scale was the same as the "major third" in their intervals and the "third" in the major triad. �Solfege would not afford them that opportunity. �Next year, I hope to teach roman numeral analysis of chords which will also correlate with their sight-singing numbers. �Solfege would be a foreign language to my students.

Now, I have a question for my opponent: �Do you know as much about music theory as my kindergarten students, or does your teacher spend so much time teaching solfege, he/she doesn't have time for other things?�

Answers to my opponent's rebuttal

My opponent:
"Contrary to my opponent's claims, the solf�ge system is not inherently complicated. Beginning students only need to be familiar with the seven main syllables: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, and ti. Learning this simple system takes only a very short period of time."

Response:�
My original point was that solfege involves NEW learning, numbers do not. �My kindergarten students did not have to learn what syllables to sing, they knew the before they came to my class.

My opponent:
"When a student begins using a counting system to describe pitches, there may be some uncertainty as to which usage of numbers is intended: rhythm, pitch, volume, or something else."

Response:
That is why I use "ta" and "ti" to count rhythm. �("Ta" =quarter, "ti"=eighth).

[1] Grout, Donald, A History of Western Music, 1964 p. 28
QT

Con


Allowing teachers to use which ever method they prefer would greatly benefit the students:


Teachers are much more likely to develop a positive attitude towards teaching sight-singing if they are allowed to choose a specific instructional method to use in the classroom. (1) As extensive research has shown, students generally perform better when their teacher has a good attitude.


This is especially true with sight-singing. When teachers feel passionate about the method they use, they will likely become more ingenious in presenting sight-singing to the students. (1) This creates a fun filled learning environment for everyone and motivates students to work harder, both in and outside of class.


Moreover, as the students express greater enthusiasm for sight-singing, music teachers will likely dedicate more rehearsal time to learning this technique. This would be highly beneficial for numerous students, since sight-singing is under taught in many American schools. As one study determined, more than fifty percent of choral directors do not include sight-singing instruction in their daily curriculums. (1)


Clearly, students would benefit greatly if their instructor could choose which sight-singing system to use.


Learning seven simple syllables is not that difficult:


My opponent continues to insist that learning solfege takes a considerable amount of class time. If this were the case, students who used the numbers system should have scored significantly higher in the experimental studies I described in round one. However, this was clearly not the case.


Both sight-singing systems have advantages and disadvantages:


My opponent notes that numbers are used in identifying intervals, and thus, they can be integrated with the study of music theory. This does appear to be an advantage to using numbers with students who are just beginning to learn about intervals and triads.


Nevertheless, there are also several advantages to using solfege. For instance, the traditional solfege syllables are much more conducive to promoting open, pure vowel sounds than numbers are. Therefore, choirs which use solfege are likely to have better overall tone quality. Studies indicate that roughly 15 percent of choir directors prefer to use solfege for this reason alone. (2)


Furthermore, many teachers use numbers to count rhythm, especially in middle and high-school. If these teachers were to adopt a counting system to describe pitches, there may be some uncertainty as to which usage of numbers is intended.


My opponent points out that syllables could be used to count rhythms instead of numbers. However, studies have shown that high-school students tend to perform better when they use numbers to count rhythms. (3)


Conclusion:


On net, the advantages of using numbers roughly balance the advantages of using solfege. Thus, teachers should feel free to use which ever method they feel most comfortable with. This would help teachers develop a positive attitude towards teaching sight-singing. As a result, students would be more likely to enjoy which ever method is used and work towards perfecting their sight-singing skills.


References:



1.http://etd.ohiolink.edu...


2.http://gradworks.umi.com...


3.http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu...



Debate Round No. 2
VocMusTcrMaloy

Pro

Allowing teachers to use which ever method they prefer would greatly benefit the students:
This is not a debate about forcing teachers to use any particular method. This is a debate about which method is the BEST and most productive method to use. Here is my original proposition:

" My position will be that the use of scale degree numbers is superior to solfege in teaching sight-singing for the following reasons:"

The whole purpose of my position in this debate is to show the value of numbers over solfege so that I might influence the preference of vocal music teachers.

Learning seven simple syllables is not that difficult:

Con's position:
"My opponent continues to insist that learning solfege takes a considerable amount of class time. If this were the case, students who used the numbers system should have scored significantly higher in the experimental studies I described in round one. However, this was clearly not the case."

My position:
It doesn't take a considerable amount of time to merely learn 7 syllables; however, it does take time to learn the order of the syllables both forward and backward; and, to learn them well enough to start in the middle of the list and go either direction. With numbers, one could start on 4 and know that 6 is two higher and that 3 is one lower EASILY, the FIRST TIME! For a beginner in solfege, starting on "so," does he know which direction to go to reach "ti," or will he have to think about it? How far is "re" from "la"? These issues are quite confusing for the beginner in solfege. Those issues are not present with the number system!

Both sight-singing systems have advantages and disadvantages:

" For instance, the traditional solfege syllables are much more conducive to promoting open, pure vowel sounds than numbers are. Therefore, choirs which use solfege are likely to have better overall tone quality. Studies indicate that roughly 15 percent of choir directors prefer to use solfege for this reason alone."

The solfege syllables are altered from the original Ut Queant Laxis syllables. "Ut" has been dropped and replaced with "do;" "sol" (from the phrase, "solve poluti") has been shortened to "so;" and "ti" has been added later. (The seventh scale degree was dropped from usage during medieval times because the distance between the fourth degree and the seventh degree formed a tritone which was believed to be evil. That is why the hymn did not have the seventh scale degree that is called "ti" in the solfege system.) If the solfege syllables can be modified to suite the needs of education, why can't numbers?
"One" can be sung, "wah." "Two" has one of the best singing vowels, "oo" which is missing from solfege. "Three" could be altered to "thee" ("th" as in thick) to ease pronunciation. "Four" could be sung, "faw." "Five" could be sung, "fah" (in order to eliminate the diphthong "ah-ee" to satisfy those who feel a need for vowel purity). "Six" could be sung "sih." "Seven" could be shortened to "seh" both to eliminate the second syllable and the final consonant. This modification of the numbers can change the numbers to pure vowels; AND, ease the mind in knowing melodic direction while coordinating with interval names, roman numeral analysis, and parts of the triad.

A second question I have for the author of my opponent's research article is why should a choral director avoid diphthongs when teaching sight-singing? Sure, the Latin syllables in the solfege system have pure vowels; but, English, German and French choral literature does not. Diphthongs should not be avoided, they should be taught properly, even in sight-singing! The likelihood of a choir having better tone quality depends on the choral director! Two years ago, my 4th and 5th grade choir made a superior rating at state festival; and, everyone was impressed with our tone quality! Some observers said my choir sounded like a high school choir; and, all three judges commented on the "mature sound" from my choir. We sight-sing with NUMBERS!

"My opponent points out that syllables could be used to count rhythms instead of numbers. However, studies have shown that high-school students tend to perform better when they use numbers to count rhythms."

In my experience with sight-singing, rhythms are read prior to singing pitches; so the issue of confusing rhythmic numbers and sight-singing numbers is irrelevant since they are not read simultaneously.

Conclusion:
In the end a music educator will ultimately either use whichever sight-singing system they wish to use or use one that they are forced to use. I agree with my opponent that the teacher should have a choice in the matter. It is my contention that should the teacher choose to use numbers:
1. the rehearsal will be much more efficient and effective
2. the teacher will have ease in applying what is learned in sight-singing to theory and visa-verse.
3. the students will grasp the the concept of scale much more readily.
QT

Con

Is learning solfege difficult?


My opponent’s position:


“It doesn't take a considerable amount of time to merely learn 7 syllables; however, it does take time to learn the order of the syllables both forward and backward; and, to learn them well enough to start in the middle of the list and go either direction. With numbers, one could start on 4 and know that 6 is two higher and that 3 is one lower EASILY, the FIRST TIME! For a beginner in solfege, starting on "so," does he know which direction to go to reach "ti," or will he have to think about it? How far is "re" from "la"? These issues are quite confusing for the beginner in solfege. Those issues are not present with the number system!.”


My position:


Although it may appear at first glance that numerical sight-singing methods are more intuitive, research does not support this. In fact, studies indicate that numerical and solfege methods are equally effective. (1-2) My opponent has failed to recognize this.


Furthermore, while the numerical system can tell students if they are going up or down, it cannot tell them by how much as my opponent suggests. For example, going from 2 to 3 is not the same distance as going from 3 to 4 in a major scale. In order for students to learn these distances, they must repeatedly practice the various scales. This can be effectively accomplished using either method.



Could the numbers be modified to ease pronunciation?



My opponent's position:


"One" can be sung, "wah." "Two" has one of the best singing vowels, "oo" which is missing from solfege. "Three" could be altered to "thee" ("th" as in thick) to ease pronunciation. "Four" could be sung, "faw." "Five" could be sung, "fah" (in order to eliminate the diphthong "ah-ee" to satisfy those who feel a need for vowel purity). "Six" could be sung "sih." "Seven" could be shortened to "seh" both to eliminate the second syllable and the final consonant. This modification of the numbers can change the numbers to pure vowels; AND, ease the mind in knowing melodic direction while coordinating with interval names, roman numeral analysis, and parts of the triad.”


My position:


Pro’s argument is not valid for several reasons. Most notably, the numbers can no longer be immediately integrated with the study of music theory when they are altered to such a degree. For instance, students are unlikely to instantly associate the nonsense syllable “fah” with a perfect fifth or the fifth in a major triad.


Over a short period of time, students would realize that the syllable “fah” corresponds to the fifth degree of the major scale. Once the students learn this, my opponent’s modified numerical sight-singing system could indeed be integrated with the study of music theory. However, the same applies to solfege. When students learn that “so" corresponds to the fifth degree of the major scale, they would be able to connect this syllable to the perfect fifth. Thus, the numerical system is clearly not superior to solfege if pure vowels are important in teaching sight-singing. Indeed, simple logic suggests that this is true. When students are trying to learn how to sight-sing, it’s difficult for them to focus on vowel pronunciation. As a result, some may develop a habit of mispronouncing diphthongs if they are taught using the numerical system.


As it turns out, there are actually several other disadvantages to using my opponent’s modified numerical system over the solfege system. For instance, five of the seven solfege syllables can easily be modified to represent notes outside of the major scale. These syllables can be raised one semitone simply by changing the vowel to a long “e”. For example, do would become di (pronounced dee) when raised one semitone. Mi simply becomes fa and ti becomes do because these two pairs are already one semitone apart. The solfege syllables can also be lowered a semitone by changing the vowel sound to a short “e”.


However, a simple rule such as this one cannot be applied to my opponent’s modified sight-singing system in which all syllables consist of a single consonant followed by a single vowel. This is simply because multiple syllables begin with the same consonant.


As an example, consider the syllables sih and seh, which both begin with an “s”. If the vowels in these syllables were replaced with a long “o”, for instance, the two syllables would become undistinguishable. This would become very problematic if a student attempted to sight-sing a chromatic scale in which all twelve pitches are used consecutively.


Clearly, different vowels would have to be used to represent a minor sixth and a minor seventh, as well as an augmented fourth and an augmented fifth in my opponent’s modified system. I acknowledge that it would be possible to develop and implement such a system. However, it would take students a much longer time to learn to sight-sing chromatic scales and the various Gregorian modes under this system.


Perhaps in the beginning of sight singing instruction numbers could be used. However, by the time students begin reading accidentals and working with the various modes, solfege would theoretically be the best method to use.


Would students confuse rhythmic numbers and sight-singing numbers?


In round two, my opponent claimed that he uses syllables to count rhythms in order to avoid confusion. However, he makes a contradictory argument in round three by suggesting that "the issue of confusing rhythmic numbers and sight-singing numbers is irrelevant".


References:

1. http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu...
2. http://jrm.sagepub.com...

Debate Round No. 3
VocMusTcrMaloy

Pro

I would like to begin this round with a story:

A newly wed couple were preparing for their first Thanksgiving. �The wife took the ham and cut the end off before putting it in the oven. �This intrigued the young husband, so he asked why she did it. �"Oh, I think it has something to do with the flavor. �I do it that way because my mom did it that way." �That wasn't enough for the young man, so he called Mom. �She also said something about flavor and said her mom did it that way. �When he called Grandma, she said, "I cut my ham off because I cooked in a wood stove and the oven was too small for a ham."

When Guido developed the solfege scale, he used a FAMILIAR hymn to which �his students could relate. �During his day, EVERYBODY knew Ut Queant Laxis. �Today, only a hand full of musicologists are familiar with the hymn; but, the solfege system is still being used. �In order to be true to Guido's original method, teachers would need to use something which their students would be readily familiar. �After a whole millennium, it is time to retire the solfege system for one that is more familiar.

Rebuttals

"Although it may appear at first glance that numerical sight-singing methods are more intuitive, research does not support this. In fact, studies indicate that numerical and solfege methods are equally effective. (1-2) My opponent has failed to recognize this."

My contention is not that the solfege method cannot reach the same destination as the numbers method. �My contention is that numbers take a more efficient route! �

"Furthermore, while the numerical system can tell students if they are going up or down, it cannot tell them by how much as my opponent suggests. For example, going from 2 to 3 is not the same distance as going from 3 to 4 in a major scale. In order for students to learn these distances, they must repeatedly practice the various scales. This can be effectively accomplished using either method."

A whole step between 2 and 3; a half step between 3 and 4? �This is overcomplicating things. �My kindergarten students know that when the numbers get higher, the pitch gets higher and when the numbers get lower the pitch gets lower. �What could be more SIMPLE than that?

"Pro's argument is not valid for several reasons. Most notably, the numbers can no longer be immediately integrated with the study of music theory when they are altered to such a degree. For instance, students are unlikely to instantly associate the nonsense syllable "fah" with a perfect fifth or the fifth in a major triad."

My opponent is choking here! �"Fah" would not be a nonsense syllable, it would be understood as a different way to sing "five."

"As it turns out, there are actually several other disadvantages to using my opponent's modified numerical system over the solfege system. For instance, five of the seven solfege syllables can easily be modified to represent notes outside of the major scale. These syllables can be raised one semitone simply by changing the vowel to a long "e". For example, do would become di (pronounced dee) when raised one semitone. Mi simply becomes fa and ti becomes do because these two pairs are already one semitone apart. The solfege syllables can also be lowered a semitone by changing the vowel sound to a short "e"."

In my system, a flat two is sung, "floo" and a sharp two is sung, "shoo." �Much less complicated!
QT

Con

• Is solfege still a part of our culture?


My opponent's argument:



"When Guido developed the solfege scale, he used a FAMILIAR hymn to which his students could relate. During his day, EVERYBODY knew
Ut Queant Laxis. Today, only a hand full of musicologists are familiar with the hymn; but, the solfege system is still being used."


My rebuttal:



Many people, including some non-musicians, are still familiar with the basic solfege syllables even though the hymn Ut Queant Laxis is no longer a part of our culture. For example, the seven main syllables may be heard in "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music, as well as the Robert Maxwell song "Solfeggio". Individuals who have heard these songs are likely to already be familiar with solfege.



• Is learning solfege difficult?



My opponent’s argument:



“My contention is not that the solfege method cannot reach the same destination as the numbers method. My contention is that numbers take a more efficient route!”


My rebuttal:


In the experimental studies I’ve quoted previously, researchers have attempted to identify relationships between the sight-singing scores of students and the instructional methods employed by their teachers. These studies obviously took into account several other variables which could potentially obscure the results, including rehearsal time spent on teaching sight-singing. The researchers found that the teachers spent about the same amount of time on sight-singing instruction regardless of which method they used.

Therefore, if the numerical sight-singing system is indeed much more efficient, the students using this system should have scored significantly higher than their peers. However, as I have made extremely clear throughout this debate, this was not the case.

It may appear at first glance that numerical sight-singing methods are more intuitive and efficient. However, scholarly research clearly does not support this. Oddly, my opponent even admitted in round two that solfege and numbers are of equal value in teaching sight-singing.



• Can the numerical system tell students how far up or down they are going?




My opponent's argument:


“A whole step between 2 and 3; a half step between 3 and 4? This is overcomplicating things. My kindergarten students know that when the numbers get higher, the pitch gets higher and when the numbers get lower the pitch gets lower. What could be more SIMPLE than that?”



My Rebuttal:


My opponent seems to suggest that teaching students the difference between whole steps and half steps is not important. However, this simply is not the case. If students cannot audiate both whole steps and half steps, they will not be able to sight-sing chromatic scales or any of the various diatonic scales. This would become extremely problematic, since most songs contain portions of these scales.


Given this rather obvious fact, it’s not surprising that many children’s choirs have emphasized the importance of teaching students the difference between whole and half steps. As the directors of one such choir state, “When [the student’s] ears learn where the whole steps and half steps are in the music, it helps them to sing much better in tune.” (1)



• Could the numbers be modified to ease pronunciation?



As I mentioned a few rounds ago, the traditional solfege syllables are much more conducive to promoting open, pure vowel sounds than numbers are. My opponent did note that the first seven numbers could theoretically be altered to eliminate any diphthongs and ease pronunciation. However, there are several disadvantages to doing so.

As I have noted previously, five of the seven solfege syllables can easily be modified to represent notes outside of the major scale. These syllables can be raised or lowered one semitone simply by changing the vowel to a “long e” or a “short e”, respectively. (The remaining two syllables need not to be altered since they are already one semitone away from their successor.)


However, I also noted in the last round that a simple rule such as this one cannot be applied to my opponent’s modified sight-singing system since a few of his syllables begin with the same consonant. My opponent countered that the syllables in his system could be altered by changing the consonant rather than the vowel. As he stated, “In my system, a flat two is sung, "floo" and a sharp two is sung, "shoo."”


However, this also would not work since multiple syllables in my opponent's modified sight-singing system contain the same vowel. For example, consider the syllables “wah”, “faw”, and “fah” which all contain a “short a” vowel. If the consonants in these three syllables were replaced with a “sh”, they would become essentially undistinguishable.


Obviously, different consonants would have to be used to represent augmented unison, an augmented fourth, and an augmented fifth in my opponent’s modified system. This would be very confusing for the students.


Clearly, the solfege system would indeed be much less complicated. As I described above, one single vowel can be used to represent all notes which have been raised a semitone in the solfege system. Likewise, one single vowel can be used to represent all syllables which have been lowered a semitone.



• Would it be easy for students to learn my opponent’s modified sight-singing system?



My opponent's argument:


"Fah" would not be a nonsense syllable, it would be understood as a different way to sing "five."


My rebuttal:


This is not the case. The syllable “fah” contains a different vowel than the number five and has no ending consonant. Thus, students would be unlikely to immediately remember that this syllable corresponds to the number five.


Learning my opponent’s modified system would take just as much time as learning the solfege system. My opponent has provided no evidence to suggest otherwise.



Conclusion:


In summary, research has proven solfege to be just as effective in teaching sight-singing as the numerical method.

Additionally, the solfege syllables contain pure vowels and allow students to focus solely on sight-singing pitches. Nearly 25 percent of the teachers who use solfege do so because of the ease in using pure vowels. If numbers could easily be altered to produce pure vowels, one might expect fewer choral directors to favor solfege for the above reason.



References:

1. http://www.emu.edu...


Debate Round No. 4
VocMusTcrMaloy

Pro

I want to again thank my opponent for accepting this debate. �Being that she is a high school student, and that she has taken the time to research this debate, �I suspect she might have a future in singing, music, or music education. �If so, I want to commend her for her early interest in research, as this will be a real asset to her future endeavors. �If music is not the path she chooses, her diligence for research in whatever field she chooses will take her far in her pursuits! �Win, lose, draw, or an un-voted debate, she still have gained from this experience!

Rebuttals from Round 4

"The syllable "fah" contains a different vowel than the number five and has no ending consonant. Thus, students would be unlikely to immediately remember that this syllable corresponds to the number five"

Most choral directors agree the English diphthong "I" is best sung�"AH-ee" with emphasis on the first vowel sound. �Diphthongs are best sung by singing the first vowel sound for the length of the note with the second vowel and final consonant sung at the last split-second. �"Five" would be sung "FAH----eev." �If one wishes to modify "FAH----eev" to a pure vowel without a final consonant, then "fah" would be the most logical choice. �When it is sung after "faw" and before "sih," "fah" is most obviously "five"!

"Learning my opponent's modified system would take just as much time as learning the solfege system. My opponent has provided no evidence to suggest otherwise."

We shall let the reader decide. �If one is on "4" and needs to go to "2" which direction will one go? �If one is on "mi" and needs to go to "la" which direction will one go? �If the reader had to think a second to answer the latter question, then there is no need for further evidence!

"Obviously, different consonants would have to be used to represent augmented unison, an augmented fourth, and an augmented fifth in my opponent's modified system. This would be very confusing for the students."

"Augmented" simply means "higher" or "sharp." �"Shun" (sharp one), "shore" (sharp four) and "shive" (sharp five) is a very simple solution to my opponent's alleged "problem."

Concerning the "pure vowel" argument my opponent quoted from the research of another music educator, my opponent has failed to address my rebuttal, "A second question I have for the author of my opponent's research article is why should a choral director avoid diphthongs when teaching sight-singing? Sure, the Latin syllables in the solfege system have pure vowels; but, English, German and French choral literature does not. Diphthongs should not be avoided, they should be taught properly, even in sight-singing! The likelihood of a choir having better tone quality depends on the choral director!�" �The whole "pure vowel" argument is avoiding good choral technique concerning diphthongs. �A good choral director doesn't need to use a sight-singing method with pure vowels. �

Conclusion

So, what has the Pro side of this debate established?

1. Concerning use of pure vowels, effectiveness in actual sight-singing, and, the use of semi-tones (by modifying the syllable); a modified number system is at least equal to the solfege system.

2. Concerning ease of learning the system, and integration with music theory; the number system is far superior to the solfege system!

Because of this superiority in ease of learning and in integration with theory, I have proven my opening statement, "�My position will be that the use of scale degree numbers is superior to solfege in teaching sight-singing for the following reasons"

I have shown those reasons to be solid logical reasons why the number system to be superior to the solfege system:�

"1) Numbers are part of a student's vocabulary at ANY POINT prior to studying music. Solfege requires taking precious learning time to teach new material. This time can be better used to teach other musical concepts.

2) Numbers are part of familiar culture. Solfege was adapted from the Gregorian hymn, "Ut Queant Laxis" by Guido d' Arezzo. Guido's idea was great for his era; however, "Ut Queant Laxis" is no longer part of most anyone's culture at this point in history.

3) Numbers INSTANTLY indicate "high" and "low" pitches. Solfege only does this after the system is learned.

4) Numbers are used in identifying intervals (major third, perfect fifth, et, al.), and roman numeral chord symbols (I, IV, vi, et. al.) so they can be integrated with a study of music theory. Solfege does not lend itself to integration with any other musical learning."
QT

Con

First, I would like to thank my opponent for a very interesting debate and wish him the best of luck in the voting rounds!



• Is solfege still a part of our culture?


In the last round, I demonstrated that solfege is still a part of our culture, at least to some extent. As I noted, the seven main solfege syllables may be heard in "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music, as well as the Robert Maxwell song "Solfeggio".


My opponent did not address this argument in his final post.



• Is learning solfege difficult?


In the last round, I made the following argument:


“In many experimental studies, researchers have attempted to identify relationships between the sight-singing scores of students and the instructional methods employed by their teachers. These studies obviously took into account several other variables which could potentially obscure the results, including rehearsal time spent on teaching sight-singing. The researchers found that the teachers spent about the same amount of time on sight-singing instruction regardless of which method they used.


Therefore, if the numerical sight-singing system is indeed much more efficient, the students using this system should have scored significantly higher than their peers. However, as I have made clear throughout this debate, this was certainly not the case.


It may appear at first glance that numerical sight-singing methods are more intuitive and efficient. However, scholarly research clearly does not support this.”


My opponent also failed to refute this argument in his post for round five.



• Can the numerical system tell students how far up or down they are going?



In the last round, I demonstrated that it’s extremely important to teach students the difference between whole and half steps. My opponent did not refute this argument either.



• Could the numbers be modified to ease pronunciation?


Throughout this debate, my opponent has claimed that the first seven numbers can easily be altered to eliminate any diphthongs and ease pronunciation. As he suggested in round two, “One" can be sung, "wah." "Two" has one of the best singing vowels, "oo" which is missing from solfege. "Three" could be altered to "thee" ("th" as in thick) to ease pronunciation. "Four" could be sung, "faw." "Five" could be sung, "fah" (in order to eliminate the diphthong "ah-ee" to satisfy those who feel a need for vowel purity). "Six" could be sung "sih." "Seven" could be shortened to "seh.”


However, as I've explained previously, these nonsense syllables cannot easily be altered to represent notes outside of the major scale. My opponent appeared to concede this point in his argument for round five.


As he noted, a "sharp one" in his modified numerical sight-singing system would have to be sung “shun”. Furthermore, a "sharp four" would have to be pronounced “shore”, and a "sharp five" would have to be sung “shive”. However, these nonsense words contain diphthongs and ending consonants.


As I noted above, my opponent’s modified sight-singing system was DEVELOPED to eliminate the ending consonants and diphthongs in the numbers. Therefore, there simply isn’t any logic in using this system once the students begin working with notes outside of the major scale.



• Would it be easy for students to learn my opponent’s modified numerical sight-singing system?


This issue is now irrelevant, since my opponent and I seem to agree that there's no logic in using the modified numerical system. Regardless of this fact, it would indeed take time for students to learn exactly how each number is modified.



• Should diphthongs be avoided in teaching sight-singing?


As I explained above, my opponent basically conceded in round five that his modified numerical sight-singing system would not work. However, he then proceeded to suggest that diphthongs shouldn’t be avoided in sight-singing after all.


As he stated directly, “Why should a choral director avoid diphthongs when teaching sight-singing? Sure, the Latin syllables in the solfege system have pure vowels; but, English, German and French choral literature does not. Diphthongs should not be avoided, they should be taught properly, even in sight-singing!”


This argument is simply wrong. As I stated in round three, “The numerical system is clearly not superior to solfege if pure vowels are important in teaching sight-singing. Indeed, simple logic suggests that this is true. When students are trying to learn how to sight-sing, [which can be a daunting task] it’s difficult for them to focus on vowel pronunciation. As a result, some may develop a habit of mispronouncing diphthongs if they are taught using the numerical system.”


As I’ve stated previously, nearly 25 percent of the choral directors who use solfege do so because of the ”ease in using pure vowels”. One might expect fewer teachers to favor solfege for this reason if using pure vowels in teaching sight-singing didn't benefit the students in some way.



• What has the Con side of this debate established?



1. Solfege and numbers are of equal value in teaching sight-singing. While it may appear that numerical sight-singing methods are more intuitive and efficient, scholarly research does not support this.


2.
Neither sight-singing system can, in and of itself, tell students how far up or down they are going. As I have noted above, going from 2 to 3 is not the same distance as going from 3 to 4 in a major scale. In order for students to learn these distances, they must repeatedly practice singing the major scale.


3. Solfege can also be integrated with the study of music theory once the system is learnt. For example, when students realize that “so" corresponds to the fifth degree of the major scale, they would be able to connect this syllable to the perfect fifth and the fifth in the major triad.


4. Solfege is still a large part of our culture. Roughly 60% of choral directors use solfege. (1) In addition, the seven main solfege syllables can be heard in the song “Do-Re-Mi” from the Sound of Music. Many non-musicians and children are familiar with this famous musical.


5. The traditional solfege syllables are much more conducive to promoting open, pure vowel sounds than numbers are. Meanwhile, the numbers cannot easily be modified to produce these pure vowel sounds. When students are trying to learn a challenging task, such as how to sight-sing, it’s difficult for them to focus on vowel pronunciation. As a result, some may develop a habit of mispronouncing diphthongs if they are taught using the numerical system.


Final Remarks:


I urge everyone to vote con. I have provided several research articles to back up by contentions, but my opponent has used mainly intuition to back up his own.


In addition, I remind the voters that my opponent, as the instigator, has the burden of proof.



References:

1.
http://etd.ohiolink.edu...

Debate Round No. 5
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by VocMusTcrMaloy 5 years ago
VocMusTcrMaloy
LOL at:

"I have provided several research articles to back up by contentions, but my opponent has used mainly intuition to back up his own. "

I didn't quote any sources because I AM A SOURCE!
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
I just posted!

And it's only 10:09:01
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
Hopefully someone will vote on this debate!
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
No, I'm just really busy.
Posted by VocMusTcrMaloy 5 years ago
VocMusTcrMaloy
LOL…I've learned you by now!
(Does that create some sort of advantage? -Like expose the debate longer or something like that?)
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
10:34:59 that is!
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
<<You will post your final argument at 10:34.>>

Yes, that's exactly what I was planning!

=D
Posted by VocMusTcrMaloy 5 years ago
VocMusTcrMaloy
QT, I know that since the debate expires at 10:35 Central Time. You will post your final argument at 10:34 ;) so, good luck, and it has been a good debate!
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
Sorry, I will not be able to post my next argument until tomorrow.
Posted by QT 5 years ago
QT
It really does not take THAT much time to learn seven simple syllables!
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by iholland95 5 years ago
iholland95
VocMusTcrMaloyQTTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Because I like Pro better
Vote Placed by oceanix 5 years ago
oceanix
VocMusTcrMaloyQTTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: PRO's argument about numbers being more intuitive is personally much more persuasive, especially when expanded to chromatic sight singing. PRO also made me appreciate numbers in sight singing as they expand so well to theory (Roman numerals, etc.).
Vote Placed by TheNerd 5 years ago
TheNerd
VocMusTcrMaloyQTTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:02 
Reasons for voting decision: I'm not really sure that either arguments convinced me beyond "do whatever works". In my lifetime (literally) of singing, I've used much solfeggio but never found it particularly useful over numbers, and sometimes even confusing. But I can read music just fine, so I would use neither if at all possible.