This is why you should not learn to read music first

This is why you should not learn to read music first

Should All Music Students Learn to Read Music?

As a music teacher, I’m often asked about reading music.  Some parents want to know,”Will my child learn to read music?”  These are usually parents who have had musical training and see the benefits of being able to read music from the last 1000 years of music literature!

Music notation is an incredible invention.  It is so concise, brief and elegant in it’s description of what would have been a lost experience.  But that’s the problem.  It’s so concise and symbolic, you need years of training, practice and conceptual development to simply read music.  It’s well worth the effort though.  Learning to read music unlocks the doors to vaults and vaults of incredible music by the masters from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Stravinsky to Bernstein to Miles, Bird and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to name just a few.

But My Favorite Rock Star Can’t Read Music

Others want to know if they “have to learn to read music.”  This is usually from parents who struggled with reading music and really did not enjoy the process.

I can see both points of view.  While yes, there is a great value in learning to read music, many of the greatest musicians cannot read standard music notation.  Paul McCartney is just one example.  And no one would ever claim Sir Paul is not a “real musician” or songwriter.

The Old School Traditional Way

Traditional music teachers often start with reading music. They want to do this because it is teacher-centric. It’s easier for teachers as there’s so much music written with traditional notation.

Music notation is over 1000 years old!

Ye Olde Songs…yawn

So, often, this old school, easy way for teachers, is also focused on older music.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, if you want to connect with younger students, you need to find a common ground.  You need to connect them with their music.  No, you can’t start immediately on the latest songs on the radio.  But you can accelerate the learning to get to that goal much quicker.

 

This is why you should not learn to read music first
This is an example of Bach’s handwritten notation from back in the 1600’s!

 

Accelerate Learning Techniques for Music

At Park Slope Music Lessons, we feel that to present the written music first is backwards. It’s like teaching grammar rules before even learning to say hello!

Our curriculum, the Musicolor Method®, works by giving students an experience of playing first, while building up technique and then gradually presenting the language of music through games and activities. It’s much more entertaining and twice as effective!

By empowering children of all ages to immediately start playing, there’s a huge boost of confidence.  Emotion is part of all learning.  How do you feel if you don’t get it?  Dumb?  Confused?  Frustrated?  But what if you could learn to play a simple song within the first five minutes of your first lesson?

Take a look at our videos, and the rest of our site.  You will see we have helped so many kids here in Brooklyn and now around the world learn to make music in a manner more organic, fun and fast.

Life Skills Through Music

And that leads to building life skills transferrable to school, work…everything!

Fun with Music Games For Learning Theory – Summer group classes

Summer Music Lessons 2013.

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I still have some availability for my Fun With Music Games for Learning Theory classes.  There is no prior experience necessary (for the beginner class) and it’s guaranteed to make music learning fun and memorable.

You know kids love games!  They instantly perk up at the slightest mention.  I so wish my music teachers knew about making games out of music theory.  It’s the fastest, funnest and most enjoyable way to learn some very abstract concepts.

In my private music lessons, I always use a game for the theory stuff.  Usually it’s just me and your child.

This summer, I’ve dedicated 2 afternoons for Music Games days – Tuesdays  for beginners and Thursdays for advanced.  This will let us enjoy the fun of a group playing the games – and learning at the same time. These classes are open to my current students as well as new ones who may have never even played an instrument.  No matter, it will be fun for all.

 

Music Theory can be fun when it's a game!
These girls are “thinking in thirds!”

What Are Music Games?

  • Here’s the core of what we’ll be learning through the fun and magic of games.  Advanced students will touch on these but go further faster.
  • Music alphabet – 7 letters – sequencing backwards, forwards, up, down and then skipping in intervals.  These girls are “thinking in thirds.”
  • Line and space notes – Learning the differences
  • Rhythm with Blue Jello words and symbols
  • Dictation – using numbers for pitches, developing listening skills
  • Solfege with Curwen hand signs – then Melodic Dictation and Melodic Bingo using solfege.
  • Grand staff – treble and bass clefs, pitch names, intervals
  • chords
  • And lots more!

I still have a few openings for both Beginner and Advanced.  Please note these are small groups of 6 students, so it will be fun for all!

Learning Rhythm using Stick Notation and Hand Signs. Plus really fun to say words!

 

Mark Your Calendars

Here’s the dates:

Tuesday Beginners – 4pm to 5:15pm ($45/each student/class)

July 9, 16, 23, 30 and Aug 6

Thursday Advanced – 4pm to 5:15pm ($45/each student/class)

July 11, 18, 25 and Aug 1, 8

Please contact me know if you are interested as soon as possible.

 

How To Read Music: Rhythm using Stick Notation

When teaching to read traditional music notation, I separate the 2 parts of pitch and rhythm.  Rhythm is easy to teach using stick notation.

[update-12-3-12] Stick notation is taking traditional notes and removing the note-head.  The note-head is the round dot at the bottom of the stick.  The dot is placed on the 5 lines of the staff and depending on where it is, tells us which pitch to play.  By removing the note-head, we focus only on the rhythm.

The use of hand movements, words and sounds enable us to get the music in our body, mind, eye and ear.  Multiple modes of experience!

This method is created by Michiko Yurko and you can find her and her books/games/workshops at MusicMindGames.com.

Here’s a little video I made with the help of Ava.

Music lessons & effects on the brain

EVANSTON, Ill., July 21 (UPI) — Musical instruction can “prime” the brain to improve human skills in language, speech, memory and attention, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Northwestern University found the effects of musical training on the nervous system can build meaningful patterns important to all types of learning, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers studied music training’s effect on neuroplasticity, defined as the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life… read the rest at UPI.com

And here’s a snippet regarding the same study from The Sun UK.

Dr Nina Kraus, who headed the research at Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “The beneficial effects confer advantages beyond music. This argues for an improvement in the quality and quantity of music training in schools.”

Musical training has long been linked to intellect. But until now experts believed it was because children who played instruments were more likely to come from wealthier backgrounds where they got extra help.

The study showed musical training benefited children from all backgrounds.

It claims music “stretches” the brain by forcing it to recognise pitch and rhythm.  Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3062237/Learning-music-will-make-you-cleverer.html#ixzz0vNLGNKsP

And another take from the journal Nature.

We can hardly be surprised, meanwhile, that music lessons improve children’s IQ7, given that they will nourish general faculties such as memory, coordination and attentiveness. Kraus and Chandrasekaran now point out that, thanks to the brain’s plasticity (the ability to ‘rewire’ itself), musical training sharpens our sensitivity to pitch, timing and timbre, and as a result our capacity to discern emotional intonation in speech, to learn our native and foreign languages, and to identify statistical regularities in abstract sound stimuli…Read this  full article