Imagine the excitement of Rochel on the day of her wedding . . . only to find that she was not the bride!
This song, composed by Abie Rotenberg and sung by Yaakov Shwekey, depicts the selflessness and sensitivity displayed by Rochel Imeinu, and our hope that in her merit, the exile will end and we will return to our land.
This week, just a few days before the Yahrtzeit of Rochel Imeinu, is a perfect time to learn to play this song!
Read on . . . Sheet music below
This song makes me think of a common problem that some people struggle with . . .
Starting to sing in the right key
Many people, even those who normally have no trouble singing on key, sometimes struggle to begin singing some songs in the right key. That means that even though they might be singing on key, they are not singing in the same key that they are playing in.
Sometimes, it sounds off. Other times, they have the feeling that something is not quite right, but they might have a hard time placing just what it is.
(Consistently struggling to sing on key, not just to start the song on key, is a different issue, and I am not addressing that problem in this post.)
The root of the problem
There are two main reasons for not starting to sing the song in the right key. Both are related to planning! They are:
- Not planning at all
- Insufficient planning
There are 12 different possible keys. If you don’t stop to listen to the key of the song before you begin, you have only a 1 in 12 likelihood of singing in the same key as the song (unless you have perfect pitch – which most people, even those with a “good ear” don’t have).
This is where you do play the first chord or two before you start, but still can’t quite place which note to start singing on.
To clarify, I am talking about a case where it is not an inability to discern pitch that prevents you from identifying the first note (tone deafness), but rather the simple act of starting to sing before you can really hear which note you need to start singing on.
Some easy solutions to the problem
Here are two easy-to-implement tricks that can help you start singing on the same key as the music every time:
Play the first chords(s) of the song before you begin singing.
Play as many chords as you need until you can join in with the music in the right key.
Then, go back and start the song from the beginning, and you will be singing on key with the music!
As a general rule, you want to play the chords from the beginning of the song until you reach the “root” chord. This could be the first chord in the song or several chords into the song.
Play the first few notes of the song before you begin to sing.
Sing the notes you just played.
Then go back and start the song from the beginning.
That should give you the audio cues you need to begin singing in the right key with the music.
Why this problem happens for some songs more often than for others
At this point, you are probably wondering what on earth starting to sing on the right key has to do with the song Mama Rochel!
Let’s take a look at the 3 possible places for the first chord of the song to appear:
Before the melody begins (ie the melody is preceded by a rest)
At the same time the melody begins (ie the melody begins at the beginning of the first complete measure)
After the melody begins (ie the melody begins with pick up notes – notes that appear before the first complete measure)
The ease/difficulty of starting to sing in key with the music corresponds directly to the placement of that first chord. It is easiest to start singing on the right key when the first chord precedes the melody and most difficult when the melody precedes the first chord.
The song Mama Rochel belongs to the third, most difficult category: the melody begins before the first chord. To make matters worse, the first chord is not the “home” or “root” chord of the key. So even if you play that first chord before you begin to sing, you might still be fooled into singing in the wrong key!
With proper planning, though, you can sing in the right key every time. Just give yourself the time to orient yourself and be sure of exactly what note you need to start on before you start by using the tips above!
I added the first notes of the song on the chord and lyrics sheet to help you out!
Download the Sheet Music
Chords and Lyrics Sheets
Melody and Chords Sheets
Full Notation Sheets
Note: I have always wondered whether there was any difference between writing up a song at a tempo of 60 bpm or writing the same song at 120 bpm, with note durations that are twice as long (ie a quarter note at 120 bpm vs an eighth note at 60 bpm).
I could not find anywhere that there is a right or wrong way, so I took the liberty of transcribing this song using the easier to read (though possibly less intuitive) 120 bpm format.
If anyone has objections or knowledge to share on this topic, please share in the comments!