Italian musical terms can seem foreign, abstract, and most of all – hard to remember – for young musicians who are tackling the study of music theory. Katherine Goodale’s unique mnemonic title Da Capo al Fine pairs a lively story with the major musical terms and accompanying music for the piano (with parts for both a teacher and a student).
The lively line drawings move along with the story, while the scores are interspersed on their own pages throughout the text as the corresponding terms are introduced so that they can be played as the story is read. The terms presented in order are: presto, lento, crescendo, decrescendo, forte, piano, legato, staccato, andante, adagio, accelerando, decelerando, sforzando, da capo, and al fine. A glossary of all of the terms is also included at the book’s end.
The terms are presented in pairs of opposites to help children compare and contrast the resulting sounds. Forte is introduced through a loud voice, while piano follows quickly as a cat tip toes softly away.
"Thank you, Mr. Alligator, for not making lunch out of us!" Says Totor in a loud, forte voice.
Froufrou tiptoes away quietly, piano, and curls up shivering, a bit nervously for a nap.
An optional CD includes a recorded performance of each piece of music in the book, and is available for a mere $2.00. The book itself is also very affordably priced; the wire bound soft cover is available for $6.95. There are 64 pages in total that are printed on card weight paper – this is a volume that is made for repeated use.
Some of the graphics are a bit pixilated, perhaps due to a photocopier being involved somewhere in the production process, but it’s hard to complain at this price. Another downside is that this charming and unique educational resource is somewhat difficult to hunt down and find online.
Orders may be sent by mail directly to:
1903 Kenwood Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55405 USA
Or by email to:
I did find one online retailer carrying Da Capo al Fine: Young Musicians Online.
This is such a lively approach to teaching musical terms in context, that I highly recommend it to any music educator or parent who is striving to add a fun and playful aspect to the teaching of musical terms.