Associative thinking as a leading method for determining intervals by ear

  • Anna Utina Candidate of Art Criticism (PhD), Primary specialized educational art institution «Konstyantinovka School of Arts», Kostyantinovka (Ukraine).
Keywords: solfeggio, interval hearing, associative thinking, onomatopoeia, English and music integration.


The methodology of interval hearing development, proposed by the teacher of The Konstantinovka School of Arts V. M. Sytnikova, and ways of its modern improvement is considered in the article. The methodology is based on the principles of associative thinking, which is based on the ability to find similar elements in different objects and to build relationships between them. It activates the creative abilities of children, stimulates their imagination and acts as a generator of creative activity. A talented musician, choral conductor and solfeggio teacher, V. M. Sytnikova began her research in 1993 with an experiment whereby students at the age of 5-6 who had different musical abilities were recruited to the preparatory group without prior selection. Since children cannot yet operate with abstract concepts at that age, V. M. Sytnikova encouraged them to create musical images and worked on their further fixation in memory. Thus, an associative interval table that summarized students' feelings and images emerged. Being one of the first to study this method, the author of the article, is convinced of its effectiveness. She has continued developing her teacher’s ideas.
Objectives – to characterize the method of development of interval hearing based on associative thinking, proposed by V. M. Sytnikova, and to demonstrate ways of its improvement, found by the author of this article in the process of her own pedagogical activity.
Methods. The methodology of the study is based on theoretical developments and practical work of domestic solfegists, aimed at the development of interval hearing. The most important component is the method of auditory determination of intervals based on associative thinking, developed by V. M. Sytnikova.
Results. The expediency of using halftone as a building cell of intervals is substantiated: firstly, because of the students' better perception of the uniformity of measure units, and secondly, because halftone is the main component of many sound structures in the music of the twentieth century, in particular, symmetrical modes.
The associative table of intervals formed during the pedagogical activity of V. M. Sytnikova is considered, the use of the initial intonations of known songs is noted. The necessity of reorientation in the formation of the "interval is the initial intonation of the song" association from Russian songs and Soviet cartoons to Ukrainian songs and methods of sound inheritance are pointed out. The ways of gradual departure from the "stencils" in the process of further work on the auditory determination of intervals are described – through listening and analysis of numerous samples of music, comparison of different intonational "versions" of intervals, selection of short intonations to each of them.
It is emphasized that reliance on associative thinking, in addition to the practical purpose of determining hearing intervals, should promote the perception of music in unity with other arts. Synthetic communication can involve any pair of human senses, but most often there are connections between sight, touch and hearing. The principle of combination of visual and auditory impressions is used by G. Doman in the study of English. The musical analogue of the cards he created can be used at the lessons with young students studying the intervals. The use of cards introduces an element of game into the lesson, which is an effective didactic tool at work with children.
The importance of integration of English to solfeggio learning process is emphasized. Today, English is the language of international communication, and its study should prepare modern students for adulthood, giving them new opportunities. The use of English elements in the course of solfeggio in first grade concerned mainly terminology – the names of sounds and octaves, in the second grade English can be associated with the study of intervals. However, singing Ukrainian songs in English, the direct link between the word and the corresponding musical intonation disappears, so the emphasis should be on soundtracking. The differences between sound inheritance in English and Ukrainian are indicated, due to local traditions and the choice of imitation of one or another facet of sound. It is suggested to add to the English version of the associative interval table, in addition to the verbal text, also images that will help children to orient themselves and memorize words unfamiliar to them more quickly, bypassing the translation stage.
The conclusion was made about the effectiveness of V. M. Sytnikova's methodology, which was tested by several generations of her students, including the author of the article. This technique allows you not only to recognize confidently the musical intervals in their melodic and harmonious types, but also to further navigate the extrasensory structures of contemporary music.
Conclusions. Relying on associative thinking indicating intervals while hearing, except tactical goals – to teach students to differentiate these the most important "building bricks" of music due to phonic coloration, has strategic ones, connected with the wish to show the connection between music as an art and world that can be seen in the art works through the sound combining. Achievement of the tactical goal becomes an important stage in the development of musical hearing as a necessary foundation of any musical activity. As for strategic goals, understanding of art and universe unity, sense of sound, lines and color connections instilled during childhood will become deeper and get new dimensions during all the life, that will unchangeably bring lot of joy and excitement. The perspectives of the farthest giveaways are connected with harnessing the potential of associative thinking according to studying other elements of music language – accords as well as searching new, more concrete and modern parallels between sound verbal and graphic folders of associative tables which are created for using at the "Solfeggio & English" integrated course.


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How to Cite
Utina, A. (2019). Associative thinking as a leading method for determining intervals by ear. Scientific Collections of the Lviv National Music Academy Named After MV Lysenko, (45), 28-44. Retrieved from