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The New Curriculum

Intro: General Structure of the New Curriculum Volumes

What are the general parts in each Volume of the
Curriculum? What is the innovation in these parts?
Why do they facilitate the learning of Byzantine Music?

In general, each volume of the new curriculum is formed by the following parts:

  1. The Theoretical Part
    • The Theories
    • The Written Exercises
  2. The Practical Part
    • Exercises to Memorize
    • Parallage Exercises
    • Words Exercises
  3. The Chants

The Theoretical Part: The Theories

The theories of the new curriculum are characterized by 2 elements:

  1. Clearance: Because the curriculum has been achieved through the experience with students.
  2. Scope: Because the curriculum has tried to cover all questions asked by students, and has tried to reach a completely comprehensive and complete theory of the byzantine music on its fields: Notation, intervals, gravity, oral traditions, ...

The Theoretical Part: The Written Exercises

The written exercises help the student understand and master the theories of the book. They aim at developing the critical approach of the students motivating them to ask questions about everything and try to make their own explanations...

Hence, all these exercises are not just recitative exercises but they are analytical exercises.

The Practical Part: Exercises to Memorize

These are exercises that students will memorize by heart as a reference for definite practical details in reading Byzantine Music. They constitute very small musical phrases that introduce new notes or modes...

The student will go back to these exercises whenever he will have any difficulty in any detail in reading Byzantine Music; these exercises will allow him to have the key to solve alone any difficulty that he may have in reading Byzantine Music.

Before starting reading any new practical chapter in the curriculum, the teacher will refer to the Memory Exercises where he will interpret them and then the students will repeat them after him without reading the notation. This way they will focus only on the notes and not on the notation signs.

It appeared to us, after some years of practicing this method, that there is an international trend in teaching music around the word, to teach the notes without reading etc. in an absolute form.

The Practical Part: Parallage Exercises

These are exercises on every new chapter. They aim at making the student master the new chapter's technicalities.

In general, these exercises are almost impossible to memorize because they do not follow any logical evolution (in the context of each exercise) which oblige the student to solve the exercise at each time without meaningful reference to his memory.

What is noticed in these exercises is that they follow a slight evolution in difficulty between each other. Every time, the students cannot execute an exercise, he will just have to practice more on the previous exercise and then he will be able to read the current exercise. This rule has been proven by empirical evidence.

The Practical Part: Words Exercises

SEM has found that there is an additional difficulty in reading Byzantine music that does not exist in reading the western notation.

As a matter of fact, reading western notation involves the following steps:

  1. Checking the line on which the new sign is showing,
  2. Concluding immediately the name of the note from the position of the line.

While in Byzantine music, the reading process involves more steps:

  1. Checking the new sign,
  2. Concluding its effect on the note (upward, or downward ...),
  3. Remembering what was the previous interpreted note,

Accordingly, when it comes to reading the lyrics with the notation (reading at the same time the lyrics explicitly and the notes implicitly), which means adding a new step to the process of reading the solfege, it will note be simple at all in Byzantine Music.

In reality, we found that it was very difficult for students to move to the lyrics part even if they mastered the solfege.

This is why it was imperative to create exercises that would help students to make this move; these were the words exercises.

The Chants

The chants are very important because Byzantine music is not only about reading the notation. It is most of all mastering the Byzantine style in chanting and in interpreting the notes and the music.

The chants are practical exercises on what have been taught in the previous sections.

This part aims as well to introduce students to the culture of the choir, the culture of harmony and modesty that the choir practice teaches.

These chants constitute only examples of what is advised to be given for students in every part; the teacher can replace them by similar chants.

The Additional Details

The curriculum encompasses other details that show every now and then in the pages to extend the general knowledge of the students in the fields of Byzantine music and to help the student and the teacher in the learning process. These details are mainly the following:

  1. Teachers Notes
    Teachers note aim at helping the student in his studies. They keep showing to give the student practical advises and hints or to remind him about important notes.
  2. Study Guide
    The study guides decompose the books to classes and sessions (what you should learn at each time) and they harmonize the different parts of each book (what details of other parts of the book you should study before starting with every exercise)
  3. Musical Dictionary
    It gives the meanings of important expressions in Music in general for the general culture of students.
  4. Internet References
    These references were inserted in the books to encourage students do researches in Byzantine Music.
  5. General Information
    General information on Music in General under interesting titles.


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