Thursday, May 4, 2017

Effective Practice Strategies - Notes Reading

Notes reading is such a fundamental skill for beginner and elementary students to have. As a piano teacher, I deeply felt that it is my responsibility to constantly check these young students' reading ability to ensure that they stay on track and continue their interest in music learning.

Because the beginner pieces are often written in five-finger position with fingering indications, they are easy for students to figure out without actually knowing the notes. Therefore, I use the following tips to routinely examine if these young students are failing or getting behind on their notes reading:
  1. Single out any note without fingering or hand position indications and ask them to name and play it. It can be a note within the five-finger position that they are currently learning.
  2. Evaluate their concept on "correct register," for example, middle C vs. base C
Teachers shall detect signs of any reading deficiencies during the learning process and use methods to prevent possible future reading obstacles.

  • Practice individual notes reading. I like doing this in almost every lesson based on the pieces that they are currently working on. For example, if students are learning specific ledger line notes, working with them on those notes to reinforce their memory and reading speed. I love notes reading Apps like Flashnote Derby, Note Rush, and Noteworks. My students have so much fun and eager to see how much they have improved every week!
  • "Landmark" notes and the concept of skip and step. By teaching students landmark notes, such as middle C, base C, G clef, F clef or "treble clef space notes FACE," they will have reference notes to work with the concept of step and skip. (you can be quite creative when introducing landmark notes to suit individual student's learning style!) 
  • Seeing "patterns" is essential for advanced students. It fosters a successful sight-reading ability. Students shall be able to analyze a piece and quickly spot patterns such as "C major scale," "chromatic scale," or "certain hand position like broken triads."

When students establish a solid foundation in notes reading plus accurate rhythmic counting, they will soar in playing! And that's when the real fun begins!

Please share your favorite reading tips, can't wait to hear them!

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