How can colors be used to help students learn to read music?

For centuries, music notation has been a "black and white" subject. To read this music, musicians have decoded black and white print and transferred it into colorful sound. Even when making notations in our printed music we have usually grabbed an ordinary pencil, thus adding a shade of gray to the page. When things get really bad we might actually...
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Introducing students to the music of Schumann

Because of the textural, technical, and interpretive demands of music from the Romantic era, students usually do not encounter it until their early intermediate years. Most likely some of the first Romantic compositions a student will study will be by Robert Schumann, whose bicentennial is being celebrated this year. In this issue Sharon Stosur, El...
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When using an intervallic approach, how do you develop faster note recognition? - Expanding on the "blueprint"

If were asked to name the most frequent mistake made by teachers, I would cite the belief that a method or set of materials is complete in and of itself. This belief inevitably leads to some frustration with the materials, and teachers may even abandon the materials to try something else. In reality, every method needs supplements provided by the t...
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How do you integrate composition into your teaching of music reading?

Imagine an elementary school classroom in which students are taught how to read a written language both out loud and to their selves. They have vocabulary drills, spelling tests, reading comprehension tests, etc. Yet these same children are never asked to converse or to write down an original thought. Would they be considered literate? If these stu...
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How do you teach fluent reading on ledger lines between the staves?

In the Spring 2005 issue of Keyboard Companion, the Music Reading Department addressed the teaching of reading ledger line notes above and below the staves. In this issue, we are focusing on ledger lines between the staves. Although many methods begin reading with these notes surrounding Middle C, this ambiguous land remains a mystery to students. ...
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From notes to beauty: When, why and how?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor  This department generally focuses on the teaching of secure music reading. Although our regular consideration of how to successfully teach students to play correct notes and rhythms is important, we also need to widen our view and consider how "music reading" becomes som...
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How do you handle reversals in reading?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor When you stop and think about it, what we often ask a young student to do at their first lesson is completely unreasonable. They sit at a huge keyboard, barely able (if at all) to reach the far ends of it, still uncertain of which hand is right and which is left. They are told...
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What common pitfalls occur in the teaching of music reading?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor For this issue my colleague Bruce Berr and I wanted to share our thoughts on common pitfalls that occur in teaching music reading and in teaching rhythmic subdivisions. Having dealt with these issues in our own departments over the years, we decided to "switch departmental hat...
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What common pitfalls occur in the teaching of rhythmic subdivisions?

from the series: The Heart of the Matter: Rhythm Bruce Berr, Editor My colleague Craig Sale and I have swapped departments this issue by each contributing an article in the other's subject area. Both essays deal with avoiding common teaching pitfalls. It has been stimulating for us to focus on different areas, and we hope that you will fi...
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How does 'experience before definition' apply to your teaching of reading concepts?

The natural order of learning1 , as described by Piaget and specifically applied to music learning by Frances Clark2 , begins with the child hearing, feeling, and seeing a concept before it is presented (i.e. sound-feel-sign-name). Experiencing a concept before learning its name and symbol, is meaningful learning. I like to think that teachers...
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What are your favorite teaching aids for music reading?

Whenever I visit the exhibit hall at MTNA and other music teacher conventions or browse through the advertisements in publications for teachers, I am always a bit overwhelmed at the number of teaching aids available. For me the bottom line is whether or not the product has pedagogical value, specifically in the teaching of music reading.  I as...
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How much in-lesson assistance do you give students in learning new repertoire?

I think most teachers would agree that independent learning is an important goal of teaching music reading. I believe, however, that we fall short of that goal if, once a student can satisfactorily read music, we begin to simply assign repertoire to be learned independently. When we do this, we cease to be a guide and facilitator during the fi...
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Describe your sight-reading library contents and organization

I admit it- I am a "packrat." My natural inclination is to hold on to things because "you never know when they might come in handy someday!" Although I strive for reform from this behavior in my daily life, I continue to collect and save music for students. The fact is that this music can be very useful to my students, often as sight-reading m...
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What Do You Do With Transfer Students Whose Reading Level is Far Below Their Performance Level?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor Before enrolling any student, I always conduct a pre-enrollment interview. I think that this first meeting is especially important if the student is a transfer student. When this is the case, over the years I have learned to require that: the student must play one or two previ...
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How do you teach reading in group lessons?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor Group lessons are able to facilitate the learning of music reading concepts in an efficient, effective manner. A recent Keyboard Companion readership survey showed that roughly half of those responding utilize group instruction in some way - occasional group lessons, week...
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How do you incorporate ear training into your reading curriculum?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Craig Sale, Editor In a small discussion forum at the 2003 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy entitled "Remedial Reading for the Transfer Student," participating teachers agreed that those transfer students considered to be "poor readers" had "poor ears." Experience and research show that ...
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How is Teaching Adults to Read Music Different Than Teaching Children?

from the series: Independence Day: Music Reading Adult beginners seem to challenge everything we think we know about teaching. From the books used to the rate of skill development, adult learners are different from children. One thing we can do to understand our adult learners is to put ourselves in their position by becoming students ourselve...
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What is included in your weekly written assignment?

    A teacher can learn a lot about a new student's previous study ~ and practice by simply looking at the former assignment notebook. That's why I always ask a prospective student to bring it along to the pre-enrollment interview along with the music and other materials most recently studied. In some cases, the weekly assignments have be...
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Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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