Treblemakers Music Blog

25 Aug 2017

Why kids CAN and DO read music right away and HOW to make it happen- Part 2

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The three main things they will need to work on in order to read are:

  1. The difference between a line and a space.
  2. The location of a note on the staff tells what note to play.
  3. Whether the note is colored in or has a stem tells what kind of note and how long to hold it. Worry about flags, beams and dots later.

Difference Between A Line and A Space:

Often kids seem to be reading notes and then you ask them to draw a specific note on the staff and they put on a note that is nowhere near the note you asked for. This is mostly because they are seeing the staff as a whole and not as made up of smaller things. They also may not fully grasp that where you put the note on the staff matters. They need to be trained to be able to see that the LOCATION of the lines or spaces makes them different. This is a tricky concept for them because all of the lines and spaces do look the same.

    LINES:

  1. Ask how many lines make up the staff.
  2. Draw a staff of their own or trace over one already drawn.
  3. Ask which line is closest to the floor. This is the bottom. Have them trace over the bottom line.
  4. Ask which line is closest to the ceiling. This is the top line. Trace the top line.
  5. Try to find other lines by counting from bottom or top.

     SPACES:

  1. Ask if they know what a space is. Explain that a space is the empty area between two other things.
  2. Ask them for an example of a space. Give the example of the space from a missing tooth.
  3. Show them a space in music is the empty area between lines.
  4. Have them color in an area of a space.
  5. Find spaces in different locations: top space, bottom space, stuck to the bottom line, etc.

LINE AND SPACE NOTES WITHOUT A STAFF:

  1. Draw line and space notes WITHOUT a staff and quiz student between the two using the questions:

 Question 1. Does a line go through the middle of the note? (line note)

Question 2. Is a line touching the top or bottom of the note? (space note)

2. If understanding middle, top and bottom of the note is difficult, compare it to their bodies. Where is the top on yourself? (on top of your head)

Where is the very bottom of yourself?(your feet)

Where is the middle of your body? (your belly button)

3. Have them draw space notes and line notes. Draw the whole note first, then make it into a line or space note. Have them trace yours first if they find it difficult.

LINES AND SPACE NOTES ON THE STAFF:

1. Draw line and space notes WITH a staff and quiz student between the two using the questions:

 Question 1. Does a line go through the middle of the note? (line note)

   Question 2. Is a line touching the top or bottom of the note? (space note)

2. Have student draw line or space notes on staff. Use some jumbo staff paper. (http://bigtreble.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/4-Jumbo-staff-treblemakers.pdf)The dexterity to draw notes a specific size and in the right location will be enough of a challenge right now without having to draw very small.

Location of a Note The Staff Tells What Note To Play:

Start with just Middle C, D & E. Don’t overwhelm with too many choices and just use whole notes to begin.

  1. Draw a middle C and ask them to draw one next to yours. You can draw the ledger line for them.
  2. Draw a D and then ask them to draw one next to yours. Make sure they understand that the top of the note needs to touch the bottom line of the staff.
  3. Draw E and then have them draw one next to yours. It’s a good idea to start halfway in the space above the bottom line to make sure that half of the note ends up on each side of the line. You can put a dot to help them know how to start the first time.
  4. Ask which of the notes they drew are line notes. Then show them that E is on the bottom line of the staff where middle C is floating free like a planet.
  5. Ask which note is a space note. (D)
  6. Draw C, D or E and ask which one it is. Make sure they go through the steps of asking?

Is it a line (C or E) or a space (D)?

If it’s a line, is it floating free like a planet (middle C) or the bottom line of the staff (E)?

7. Once they’re reliably naming the note, you can draw different kinds of notes on C, D & E to make sure they understand that the line or space tells you what note to play. What kind of note tells how long to hold it.

Whether the note is colored in or has a stem tells what kind of note and how long to hold it.

I usually won’t add rhythm the first week with young students. If they can play through the entire 8 measure song by the next week fairly easily, I start working on the difference between whole, half and quarter note.

  1. Draw a whole note.
  2. Have them draw a whole note.
  3. Add a stem to the whole note, making it a half note.
  4. Have them make their whole note into a half note.
  5. Color in the half note to make a quarter note.
  6. Have them color theirs in.
  7. Draw all three on the board. Ask about the differences between the notes.
  8. Describe each note.
  9. Whole note-not colored in, doesn’t have a stem.
  10. Half note- has a stem, not colored in.
  11. Quarter note- has a stem and is colored in.
  12. Draw new notes and quiz between the three asking questions:
  13. Does it have a stem?
  14. Is it colored in.

Some other important factors to remember when working with young children:

  1. Give enough repetition of concepts while working with them where they can retain it
  2. Come at concepts from different directions.
  3. Revisit information often in order to store information in long term memory. Daily is ideal.
  4. Short practice sessions regularly yields better results than long sessions infrequently. When you wait too long between practices, the information has to be relearned every time because it is only being stored temporarily in working memory.
  5. Stop when you notice fatigue. If you notice they do really well in the beginning of working but then start getting a lot of things wrong, stop. This usually means they are mentally fatigued.

With beginners, it’s important to understand the crucial information inside and out without overwhelming the student with information that they don’t need to know yet.