Learning to Sing with Shaped-notes

About Us

The Shaped-Note System

shaped notesThe shaped-note or “Fasola” tradition is one of unaccompanied singing, that is, without any assistance by instruments. Thus, when singing shaped-note hymns, it is practice first to "sing the notes," that is, to sing the fa-sol-la syllables corresponding to the shapes in the music before singing the text. This serves to set the tune in memory and enables a person to more easily sight-read previously unseen or unheard music. Tunes are sung in relative pitch, rather than at an absolute pitch.

Early colonists brought the shaped-note singing tradition with them from Europe where the method was invented to enable common people to more readily sing worship and praise songs. The first book in America printed with shaped-note heads, using "patent notes," was the Easy Instructor, by Wm. Smith and Wm. Little, in 1801. The shapes used then are still in use to this day: Fa, Sol , La , and Mi. The tradition of singing by shaped notes was welcomed and is carried on to this day, particularly in the southern regions of the United States.

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History of National School of Music

Praising God in song is a precious privilege and a great duty shared by every Christian regardless of age. Our Father in Heaven deserves, and demands, the best praise we can offer, so each Christian should desire to learn the rudiments of singing. Over the years, the quality of shaped-note singing has declined all across the country, largely due to apathy toward personal improvement and/or an unfamiliarity with the rudiments of music.

The National School of Music was founded as a private endeavor to help individuals of all ages improve their skills in singing, song writing, and song directing.  Mr. Dorsey C. Yarbrough, a renowned gospel singer, prolific songwriter, and long-time faculty member of the Stamps/Baxter School of Music, founded the National School of Music in Roanoke, Alabama, in the late 1960s and operated it there through the late 1970s. Mr. Yarbrough passed the National School of Music torch to Phillip G. Prince, who loved the school as a student and later as an instructor. Mr. Prince shares Mr. Yarbrough's love for singing and song writing and continues to run the school as a private endeavor.

After being closed for 30 years, the National School of Music reopend for classes, under the direction of Phillip G. Prince in VanLeer, TN at Camp Ridgedale on June 18, 2001, In 2016 the TN location was moved to Martin Methodist College in Pulaski TN. We opened a second location for the National School of Music in Wichita Falls, TX at Camp Chaparral in July 5, 2004 and moved to our present location at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls on June 18, 2005.

As you can see, regardless of where you might be in the country, there is a school close to you. Why not make your plans, right now, to attend one or more of these schools.

Meet the Team

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Phillip Prince

Founder & Song Wrighter

Maegan Prince

Music Instructor

Krista Hatter

Vocal Music Educator

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