Sound Beginnings and the Do Pentatonic Scale

Sound Beginnings and The Pentatonic Scale

We are in the Silver Buttons semester of Sound Beginnings this spring.  Many parents are curious about the Do Pentatonic Scale and why we use it.  It seems strange to skip over a note, doesn’t it?  Why don’t we sing Fa? Why not leave out Mi or Re?  Well, there actually is a good reason why we are teaching the Do Pentatonic Scale this semester.  Keep reading and your questions will be answered.

The DO Pentatonic Scale is a five-note scale: DO, RE, MI, SOL, LA. “Pente” is Greek for “five” and “tonic” means “tone”. These notes are not consecutive and the half step is skipped over, putting a beautiful minor 3rd at the top of the scale. As we have been learning in Sound Beginnings, the minor 3rd is the first interval young children can hear and imitate correctly. Think of the Sol-Mi songs we sing in music class–these songs are all using the minor 3rd interval.

The Pentatonic Scale (Pentatony) The Pentatonic Scale (Pentatony)


Due to its simplicity, the pentatonic scale is the basic scale for folk songs. The folk song genre grew out of natural human expression using the voice. Since two sets of minor 3rds are inherent in the scale it has a natural and instinctive sound and is easy to sing and imitate.

Nowadays it is no longer necessary to explain why it is better to start teaching music to small children through pentatonic tunes: first, it is easier to sing in tune without having to use semitones (half-steps), second, the musical thinking and the ability to sound the notes can develop better using tunes which employ leaps rather than stepwise tunes based on the diatonic scale often used by teachers”


Kodaly – the creator of this scale – fully embraced its use when teaching young children. He taught that “it is easier to sing in tune without having to use half steps”. Kodaly continues that it is easier to ‘hear’ the notes and sing them in a melody that employs leaps rather than stepwise tunes. His philosophy further teaches that the beginnings of music education must be made in the pentatonic scale because it is the wellspring of all music.

Everything from ancient music of the Eastern world, to Gregorian chant, to 20th century composers like Debussy have at their core the pentatonic scale. In addition, the pentatonic scale carries with it an endearing, simple, lilting, carefree quality which characterizes childhood itself.

In music class this semester, we are singing the song, “Mary Wore Her Red Dress.” This song is comprised completely using the Do Pentatonic Scale.  And you thought we were just singing about clothes…

After we know all this of course we are going to use the Pentatonic Scale!

sound beginnings logo

Want to know more about Sound Beginnings? Come to The MAC for a free sample class! This FUN curriculum is specifically designed for children ages 2-4 years old and their parents. By providing a solid music and preschool foundation, Sound Beginnings prepares students for success in Let’s Play Music and Kindergarten! The curriculum is organized into four non-sequential semesters each lasting 4 months and provides experience with important music concepts and skills through songs and games. Classes include singing, movement, games, stories, and activities, focusing on different concepts each semester.

One Stone 24-hour Think Challenge

My son is a junior in high school.


Sam_One stone 24 hr think challengeHe sometimes wants to sit around and do nothing, and sometimes wants to change the world.  Last weekend he was feeling the latter and decided to volunteer his long weekend off of school to spend 33 hours at Century Link Arena in Boise with the One Stone organization.

One Stone is a student-led and directed nonprofit that makes students better leaders and the world a better place. They empower high school students to learn and practice 21st century skills through experiential service, innovative initiatives and social entrepreneurship. One Stone sponsored a “24-Hour Think Challenge” for Idaho’s high school juniors October 1-2, 2015. The challenge was to find a way to improve education in Idaho.

The 150 students listened to invited guest speakers and were divided into groups, then were given 24 hours to brainstorm and come up with a plan, complete with a Powerpoint presentation, storyboard, and 5-minute TED-talk like speech.  A countdown clock was all the time reference they had as they spent the night at Century Link Arena and had no contact with the outside world. Many of the students had little or no sleep for the entire length of the challenge.

As I listened to the presentations, I was impressed with the depth of concern and thought the students had given their task.  A common theme was that students want more self-direction in their education and they want more training in real-life skills that will prepare them for the job market after graduation.

My son’s friend was also one of the students to participate in the think challenge.  He was also the presenter for his group and is a talented budding artist and all around great person.  He is a high-achieving student who will have his choice of careers after graduation. What he really wants to be is an artist.  All his teachers are discouraging him from his true desire, and none of them are taking his hopes and dreams and encouraging him to follow them.  Listen to his story….


Why do parents and teachers discourage their children from following their creative passions?  There are people who make a living at doing what they love and they bring joy and happiness to their lives and to those around them while doing it.  There are creative careers that can earn a living-why do we not tell our children this?  Have we as adults become so jaded and dollar driven that we don’t let our children pursue a career that would fulfill them and make them excited to go to work each day?

Success is not only measured in dollars and possessions, aka toys.  Success should be measured by quality of life and the ability to influence others for good. What do you tell your children in this ultra-competitive world we live in–that they must choose a career that makes a lot of money because that is the only way to be happy? Yes, not having money is a sure way to be unhappy, but having money does not guarantee happiness.  There are art and music careers that will allow a creative individual to be happy, fulfilled, and self-sustaining.

At The MAC Music and Art Center we are striving to bring quality art and music education to Idaho’s families, subjects that are increasingly being cut from our schools’ curriculums.

Our vision statement:

We believe every child is musical and every individual has a creative power.  We provide an opportunity for that creativity to develop and flourish.  The joy is found in the journey, not in the destination.  We seek to make that journey as enjoyable and meaningful as possible.


Let’s encourage our youth to participate in the arts, even if it is only a hobby.

Art and music give life to our spirits, joy to our hearts, and meaning to our existence.