By Dr. Julie Knerr
In the final blog post in this series, we will focus on #4 of the four ingredients that lead to confident and fluent music reading:
- Ingredient #1. Patterns and Theory
- Ingredient #2. Contours and Intervals
- Ingredient #3. Rhythm
- Ingredient #4. Note Names
Note Names are important. They are just not the only key to reading music.
We introduce note names by tying the treble and bass clefs together using the Skips Alphabet. This video shows the process.
Once students understand the process shown in the video above, they get to get their name on the Note Name Chart, which they really look forward to!
Students start with Phase 1, saying the Space Note Cards. I give them only the space notes from a stack of Note Name Flashcards (I use the Bastien Note Name Cards). They must Say the correct names in 30 seconds or less for the 12 cards. Once they complete Phase 1, they put stickers on the chart, get a piece of chocolate, and move on to Phase 2.
In Phase 2, I give them the Line Notes on the staff. They must say them in 30 seconds or less.
In Phase 3, they have 60 seconds to say Spaces and Line Notes mixed together.
In Phase 4, they say the Leger Line Notes in 30 seconds.
In Phase 5, they have 75 seconds to say all the cards they have learned so far, Spaces, Lines, and Leger Lines.
Phases 6-10 are a repeat of Phases 1-5, except they must Play the notes in the correct octave on the piano. I have found that separating the saying of the note from the playing of the note in the correct octave at first is easier than trying to do both things at the same time. However, for older children, this might not be necessary.
Below is a chart summarizing the phases.
It takes at least a year or more for students to really become automatic at their note names. And then, when students have become automatic, frequent review is still necessary. The goal is for students to see a note and know it immediately, just as they see the letter “A” and know it is an “A” immediately.
As you have seen throughout these seven blog posts on Reading, teaching students to read music notation takes an enormous amount of thought, understanding, reinforcement, and planning. We have thought out the process and presented what we believe are best practices in the teaching of reading notation in Piano Safari. Our goal is for all students to become confident readers, and for all teachers to trust the process and continue to work toward the goal of each student reading confidently.