READING….WHEN?Some people have a problem with piano teaching methods that do not require the reading of notation for learning to play a song. Anybody Can Play PIANO is a method which parallels language, so reading is not introduced when initially learning to play songs. Being able to play a song on the piano is comparable to speaking.
Having said that, reading can indeed be introduced at the beginning. However, it should be done as a separate activity for a number of reasons. For one thing we need to remain “step by step” and not introduce too many simultaneous steps at a time, particularly since we are also using two different visuals. Also, allowing students to play only what they can read can sometimes severely slow their progress on the keyboard to the point where they lose interest.
I learned to read music at a very young age - so young in fact that no one knew I was figuring it out! I didn’t know at the time that notes had names. I have always looked at a note and instantly known which key on the piano it represents. I never had the “translation” step of “name before key”. Because of this I have always experienced the joy of sight reading well. It is fun to know the names of the keys on the keyboard because all the keys that look alike have the same name! (a good game here!) It is important that students do learn the names of keys and notes, but in the proper order for ease in reading music notation.
Patterning exercises are a good way for introducing musical notation. One which can be used with very young children is matching. Use flashcards and have the children match the cards that are the same. This can be done in many creative ways with only one child or several! Remember, don’t name the notes at this point when using flashcards that feature a note on a staff. It is better to describe the note...Oh, that has the bottom line going right through the notehead!....That note is resting between two lines - we call that a "space". - I guess we call it a "space" because it is the space between the two lines!"
Another patterning game can be done with a portion of a keyboard on paper with some keys marked with stickers, colors….. The children are given an identical paper keyboard without the markings and mark it to match the other paper keyboard. This again can be creatively done with groups or one at a time.
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