There are many methodologies and pedagogies expounded by specialists on the best way to teach music to a child. Some believe that music is best learnt if kids play by hearing. Some believe that kids should learn how to play and read at the same time.
I find these different ideas useful in creating the best learning experience for the children.
One of the most frequent questions I receive from parents is this:
Shouldn’t the child be reading the music notes without the letternames written down?
Here’s my opinion. Do whatever it takes to have the child realise his potential and still have him enjoy his learning process.
BUILD CONFIDENCE – creating music
If a child could read the music notes without the help of the letternames – great!
If the child is learning music as a beginner, I would focus on building his confidence first.
Some actions I would take to accomplish this are:
- Teach the child to play the music without reading. Most kids find it so much easier to make music with their fingers without reading the notes!
- Once the child is confident in controlling his finger movements, guide the child to look at the music notes as he plays. I use a pencil as a pointer to guide the child’s sight-reading as they play the music.
- This process may take a couple of weeks, depending on the amount of practice the child does at home.
BUILD CONFIDENCE – reading music notes
Once the child is confident of the music he makes, it is time to develop the reading skill.
I would ask the child, “Look for all the C notes in this music”
As the child points out the C notes in the music score, I would use a red color crayon to write out the letter C below each note.
For subsequent weeks, I would add the D and E letters on the music score.
BUILD CONFIDENCE – creating music and reading the notes simultaneously
By this time, the kid would have played that tune for at least 50 times! Finger control is secure and the letternames are all clearly written for him.
Next… choose a particular music note and erase all the letternames of the music note. For example, erase all the E letters!
Let the child play the tune with the missing E letters.
Then add to his repertoire with a new song that contains only the C, D and E notes. Have him point to the C and D notes and write out the letternames under each note.
Here’s the different thing you can do: Have him point to the E note and tell him you are going to use invisible ink to write out the E letternames.
Have him learn to play the new song with the C and D letters clearly written, but the E letter in invisible ink!
In summary, reading and finger coordination are two different skills. Some kids find it easy to do both at the same time. For the kids who takes some time to master these two skills simultaneously, I hope these steps will be of use to you!