In this activity, you will play through variations of solfege scales using simplified colored stems with your Specdrums Rings.


Learning Objectives

MU:Pr6.1.T.Ia – 

Using digital tools, demonstrate attention to technical accuracy and expressive qualities in prepared and improvised performances of a varied repertoire of music.

MU:Pr4.2.2b –

When analyzing selected music, read and perform rhythmic and melodic patterns using iconic or standard notation.


What are solfege stems? But first… WHAT IS SOLFEGE? Let’s ask the 1989 Ghostbusters….

Um… really, Egon?

Solfege is a system of identifying and representing musical pitches using syllables such as “Do, Re, Mi…” Since the Ghostbusters couldn’t help us, let’s instead consult Julie Andrews (excuse me… Maria) for further guidance!

Put these solfege syllables together, and you have “Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do”!

When we learn songs, sometimes it is helpful to replace the note names like C, D, E with Do, Re, Mi to help us sing and learn the melody more easily. Symbols like ♯ (sharp) and ♭(flat) may seem confusing if you’re learning music for the first time. Learning solfege is a simple way to begin your musical journey. 

“Do” represents the first note of a scale, and the remaining syllables (Re, Mi, Fa, etc.) match the remaining notes of a scale. Here are some examples:

Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do
C-major C D E F G A B C↑
E-major E F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D♯ E↑
F-major F G A B♭ C D E F↑

Notice closely in this table that each key (the keys of C, E, and F major) all have a differing series of notes, sharps (♯ ), and flats (♭). When we learn solfege syllables, we can sing in that particular key and not have to worry about which particular notes make up that scale in the key. No matter what key we sing in, we can still use “Do, Re, Mi” to figure it out!

Let’s Begin!

In this activity, you will be reading simplified color stems instead of music notes (like♩or ♪) to play solfege scale melodies and different rhythms. Here is an example of what the stems look like in this activity.

As you can see, each syllable – like “Do” – is assigned to a particular color. Here, “Do” is assigned to red. You will choose one of the keyboards below (see Required Materials) to play these stems.

If you’re wondering about how fast or slow to play the stems – that is entirely up to you! Play at your own speed.

Required Materials

  1. The Specdrums Edu app downloaded onto an iOS device
  2. At least one Specdrums Ring – Note: in a classroom, your students can work in groups or can take turns playing these individually
  3. Keyboard Printout – This activity contains a larger, two-page solfege printout as well as a one-page printout. These will be used to play on while reading the stems. Access them hereKeyboards
  4. Color Stems – Stems can be read from Smart Board or printed out. Stem activities are grouped according to activity types: Scales, Steps, and Leaps and Bounds. Access them here: Scales // Steps // Leaps and Bounds
  5. Coloring Utensils (for Challenge Section) – markers, crayons, paper, construction paper


Step 1: Set up your scale. Watch this tutorial on how to set a scale in the Specdrums Edu app.


Step 2: Choose which type of stems you want to play. You can choose Scales, Steps, or Leaps and Bounds (see Required Materials). Print or project the stems pages.

Step 3: Choose your keyboard (see Required Materials).

Step 4: PLAY!

Symbol Guide

The symbols you see below may look unfamiliar in this activity.

Two half beats (stems with a flag at the top) are the equivalent of one full beat (solid stem).

When you see a 1-beat rest, pause for one beat – it’s the silent equivalent of the 1-beat solid stem. Then you will see a two-beat rest, which means you are silent for two beats (or the equivalent of two solid stems).

If you see two bar lines at the end of a stem section, it means the section is over, and you can move on to the next section.

Remember that you can play at your own speed.


For this challenge, design your own special keyboard using the same colors with the associated solfege syllables (Do – red; Re – orange; Mi – yellow; Fa – lime green; So – teal; La – light blue; Ti – purple; Do – pink/magenta) to play on with your Specdrums Rings. You can use markers, crayons, paper, colorful construction paper, and tape to design your keyboard.

Then, play through some of the exercises using the keyboard you made using your Specdrums Rings. How is it similar or different to playing with the ones you used in this activity?

Bonus Challenge!

Pick a major key. Underneath each syllable on the stems pages, write in the equivalent notes for the key you choose.

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