Minor Scale: La? Or Do?

I can't count how many times I've seen or heard this question:

"Minor Solfege:  DO based or LA based?  And why?"

I start with this:

There are so many ways to teach sight singing.  They can all work if we are consistent.

...But here is my experience based on my 26 years of teaching public school choral music beginners in 3 states.



I teach beginners.

Most of the teachers I encounter who teach choral music teach beginners.  Many of them leave the profession because they can't figure out how to teach beginners to read.

I'm still waiting for that awesome class of 40 classically trained pianists who started private lessons at age five, but alas, it hasn't happened.  ...Not for me.

So, I teach LA as "home base" when I teach my students about the minor scale.

My sixth graders don't understand music theory yet.  Teaching DO based minor would be like teaching grammar to first graders and leading with "This is an adverb" because they are able to speak the sentence "She walks slowly" when they are 6.

Just because they can speak it correctly doesn't mean it's time to teach all of them why the word "slow" needs an "ly" sometimes.

It's so odd to me why so many classically trained musicians think they have to tell a young musician aged 6-12 in the group setting the ins and outs of music theory using the terminology they used in their Yale School of Music training courses.

I'm classically trained too!  Um...Not at Yale...but it didn't take me long to figure out that talking to my beginners like they were in Freshman theory/sight reading classes wasn't working.

LA works because it makes sense to them right now.

DO, RE, ME?  What is that?

We are doing a disservice when we jump passed what they are ready to understand.

We lose them.  Programs shrink.  Small programs disappear. 

When we teach them the minor key with LA as the base, we are meeting them where they are.  

2 or 3 years from now, they'll start asking why.

Then, we will answer.