Ten Teaching Ideas for the voice using Bach cantata 78

The Chorale (no 7) from Cantata 78 contains many examples of the composition requirements of the Leaving Certificate printed on page 7 of the syllabus. Through the usual techniques of analysis, students can become familiar with these features, with teachers devising suitable exercises to consolidate their understanding.

Some teachers may prefer to leave the analysis of this set work until the second year of the course. The following teaching ideas based on the final chorale and encouraging an aural approach to the study can however be used as an initial study with fifth year students. The development of a sense of tonality, of interval relations, and of general aural perception will be of benefit to students in all areas of the Leaving Certificate course, and also when they become familiar with the whole Cantata. The ideas below are guidelines only - individual teachers will expand on or omit exercises as they please.

1. From a song that is already familiar to your students, identify a passage which uses the minor pattern l-t-d-r-m. Isolate these notes, and make them obvious to the         class. (For example "Bohemian Rhapsody", last page, "nothing really matters….", "Kalinka", "By the Waters of Babylon")

2. Use the music below (or hand signs, charts, etc.) to teach the intervals which can be made from these five notes.

    Learn the following phrase, singing or playing - "m r d t l"
    Practice the intervals starting from each note
    "l-t, l-d, l-r, l-m",
    "t-l, t-d, t-r, t-m",
    "d-l, d-t, d-r, d-m"
    "r-l, r-t, r-d, r-m"
    "m-l, m-t, m-d, m-r"
    (Repeat the m-r-d-t-l refrain at each double bar, to maintain a sense of key.)
3. Repeat the sequence above, this time starting from "m-r, m-d, m-t, m-l", etc.
    Use the ascending pentachord as a refrain - "l t d r m",
4. Ask some students to hold the first note of each section, while the echo exercise is sung. This will strengthen the sense of interval.
5. Once students can sing the intervals without difficulty, echo sing as usual, but this time ask the student to sing back the interval. For example, Teacher: "l-t", Student: "major second"
6. Students then create a chart listing the different intervals, and where they are found.
    m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 P5
7. Teach the last phrase of the chorale without music. Ask the students to write this in the key of G minor.
8. With the class singing this familiar phrase, play each of the inner parts separately.  Extension. Ask students to do this in pairs, or individually.
9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 using bars 13 and 14.
10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 using bars 1 and 2.  Repeat the whole exercise using the major pentachord, d-r-m-f-s, reinforcing the intervals, etc.. When it comes to steps 7 and 8, use bars 11 and 12 of the chorale.