music" is a very large, vague term.
levels of reading music. Liszt, the famed romantic star of the piano,
was able to read instantly even the handwritten chicken-scratchings of
young composers. That's the highest level of pianistic expertise, a
level sought and usually attained by modern professional classical
opposite end of the scale is the average adult amateur, with whatever
music reading skills they can muster from youth, which are often not
too, have levels. Some learn right hand (treble clef) up to a certain
level of complexity. Some also learn the left hand language (bass clef)
but rarely with the assurance of the right hand.
that reading music, in terms of the piano, often involves "speaking"
(playing) two different musical languages; right hand (treble clef) and
left hand (bass clef.)
and read even one clef well is an accomplishment, but a pianist must
conquer both simultaneously.
the steps a child must take to learn to read simple music in the treble
clef, that is, for the right hand. Some steps involve finding things on
the page, and others involve finding keys on the piano.
with and locate Middle C. It is the only note with the "little
line." (See below.)
Be aware that there are
five horizontal lines.
Look at notes on a page.
There are only three locations: Middle C, on a space or on a line.
Keep drilling visually
the placement of notes, as in the above drawing. The child must know
the answer EVERY time before proceeding. Three placements, Middle C,
on a space, or on a line.
Now put the stickers on
your keyboard, as in the diagram below.
The red sticker
represents Middle C. Play games finding Middle C on the page (the
Review the skill of
finding Middle C on both the piano and the page. This is crucial for
success with reading music. Don't worry if it takes four months or
longer, depending on the age of the child. This skill must be in
place before proceeding. Older kids learn it in a few minutes.
Offer the additional
information that Middle C, or any C, for that matter, is the white
key to the left of the group of two white keys. Play a game finding
all the C's on the piano. You point to a group of two black keys,
and the child must find the adjacent white key to the left. After
that is mastered, go back to finding Middle C, that is,
distinguishing Middle C from all other C's.
Now play a game with the
drawing above (in #5) in which the child must distinguish between
Middle C, denoted by the red sticker, and all the other lines,
denoted by the 5 blue stickers. Play a key with a blue sticker, and
ask, "Is this on a line or a space?" The answer must be
"It's on a line." Play Middle C, the key with the red sticker.
Ask if it's on a line or a space. It's a trick question. Middle
C is on it's "own line," the "little lines" of the drawing
in #4 above.
Next use the drawing
with the stickers (your keyboard) and play all the keys that have no
sticker at all. These are "spaces." If a note is on these
spaces, we say it is "on a space."
steps will prepare your child for reading music. If you attempt to read
music without understanding these skills and ideas, you will be confused
from the first moment.
skills are in hand, it will not be hard to move from one note on a line
to the next on a space.
general strategy is to learn the first five notes above Middle C until
they are utterly familiar. Don't stray into other hand positions until
the C position with the right hand is solidly learned. That's why
it's important to have other things to learn while the weeks pass and
the above ideas sink in.
I CAN READ
MUSIC contains all these skills, with detailed step by step instructions
that make the process into a game.
not make the mistake of introducing fingering at this time. It will
greatly confuse younger children.
notes on the page, then find them on the piano. No note naming, no
things are possible once the idea of "note finding" is secure in
finding is a game, with various levels. Play all the levels (the steps
above, or I CAN READ MUSIC) before gingerly
testing the waters with real music. You will succeed if you are patient
and make sure the child has control of the underlying concepts.