Why Study Solfège
The air must know the name of each note in order to blow at (aim at) each note. If the air doesn’t “know” the note, the result will be more pressure and less blowing. If the mind doesn’t know what is happening, and if instead the physical apparatus is trusted to do the job, the performer is then trusting to luck (of which there are two kinds).
Even though the eyes see the notes; even though the ear thinks the pitch in advance; even though the fingers know how to depress the keys; and even though the lips and air know how to make the required specific effort to produce the desired note (as proven simply by the fact that they have played any note on many occasions) – yet none of these separate bits of localized knowledge can be depended upon to combine at the needed moment with all of the other required bits, unless the player’s mind is leading the action and has a mental alertness of the name of the note in the passage and of its melodic and harmonic relationship to the other notes in the passage.
For beginners, a good way of starting correctly in terms of the solfège problem is always to say correctly the syllable mentally as the note is being played. The fingers benefit, for example, by following a mental command before they act. Playing by rote is not sufficient.
The order of meaning and application of solfège to playing is as follows:
- The notes are produced as a result of a certain specific combination of the face muscles and the air.
- The ingredients can combine successfully only if they combine together at a specific moment, and in as positive a manner as possible, with a minimum of hesitation and doubt.
- If the air is wandering to any degree and is not absolutely sure as to just what note it wants, this uncertainty and hesitation are transmitted to the actual playing ingredients and then being less than certain, make less than their best effort.
- The player cannot afford to have any mental uncertainty as to the note sought.
- Solfège amplifies benefits to rhythm and time control.
One should be able to turn on and off the mental solfèging. One of the great benefits from solfège is its help in stopping rushing.
In addition to knowing the fingerings, which is simple, and learning to hear musical sounds intelligently and to control the breathing apparatus which is far more complicated, we must go that one step further and actually know mentally (as opposed to knowing physically) the name and location harmonically and melodically of each note.
Solfège improves musical and performing abilities by keeping the brain “turned on.”