For Health and Strength (Learn by Rote)

Certain of my students are really struggling with developing an ear, so a simple song that can lead to success without a lot of tears along the way is a good thing.

“For Health and Strength” is a traditional song, which is appropriate for Thanksgiving, fairly well known, and easy to learn, so it ticked all the boxes for ear training this month, and every one of my students picked it up pretty quickly, following this method:

  • Place the hands in middle C position.
  • Starting in the right hand, play four notes, three of which are the same:
    • G G G F
  • Then play the same pattern, but start on E:
    • E E E D
  • Play the same pattern again, but start on C:
    • C C C B
  • Start at the top and play the whole sequence:
    • G G G F   E E E D   C C C B
  • Our song doesn’t sound finished until we add a long home note at the end:
    • G G G F   E E E D   C C C B   C
  • The last thing we add is the pickup note at the beginning. It’s a low G. So our final sequence is:
    • G (low)  G G G F   E E E D   C C C B   C


Once they knew the basic song, we did a number of things depending on interest and ability level:

  • Play it in a round.
  • Transpose
  • Play it with duet accompaniment in various styles.
  • Create a variation in the melody by shaking up the rhythm or articulation or dynamics or making it minor.

Alternatively, you could also use this fakebook version to practice a different skill set with the same song.




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