One of the most difficult scales to teach is the chromatic scale. In theory, it is rather straight-forward, but practically speaking it’s not the easiest scale for a vocalist. The chromatic scale ascends or descends by half steps. The singer usually has a starting note and a target note. The scale must be sung with precision, sounding every note (all black and white keys on the piano) between the starting tone and the targeted tone. The result is a climbing or falling melody.
I was always faced with a frustrating look from my young students when I started this scale. There was no sound. No effort. Just a blank stare. So, one day I was tinkering with the scale in my studio and decided to put some words to it. Immediately a bee came to mind, but how would I get a child interested in singing about a bee?
Time passed as I sat and pondered words and quite frankly, the words to “Busy, Buzzy, Fuzzy Bumblebee” just spilled out almost immediately once I focused on a bumblebee. I’ve actually gotten most of my students to sing it at one point or another as a warmup. I even have a three year old sibling who runs into my studio and sings it on occasion while I’m helping his brother through a warm up of scales.
There has been some pushback over the phrase that references the bee’s lips. “Bees don’t have lips!” a student protested one day. “Have you ever looked at a bee’s face?” I retorted. “How would you know?” I laughed quietly to myself as the student stood there and tried to figure it out.
I must admit that among the younger students, ease of the chromatic scale has been enhanced by engaging imaginative lyrics with a less than cooperative scale. You’ll find it on your favorite streaming service!
The lyrics and accompaniment are included in the companion songbook to the album, “In My Backyard”! I’ve even included the solfege for those teachers and choir directors who want to use it as a warmup or teaching tool. Enjoy!