10.01.17

Music Reading Challenges…And How Parents Can Help

Posted in beginners, good musicianship, helping your child succeed, reading music at 5:00 am by Administrator

Music reading

This week at Lead Mine, our band students are beginning the process of learning to read music! Reading music can be quite tricky for young musicians; fortunately, there are many ways that parents can help make it easier. One great way to help your children is to understand the difficulties they’re facing as they learn to read, and respond to them with encouragement and support. Here are several common troubles that young musicians may have during the early stages of music reading, and ways you can help:

1. “This is too hard! I quit!” For many students, learning to read music is a very difficult and frustrating endeavor. After all, learning to read music is a lot like learning an entirely new language! If your child becomes frustrated during practice at this stage, encourage her to take a 5-minute break and return to practice when she feels more relaxed.

2. Trouble getting through an entire song. One major reason that kids get frustrated with music reading is that they try to “bite off more than they can chew”–they attempt to play an entire song without stopping, but their technique isn’t strong enough to accomplish this quite yet. If your child is annoyed because he can’t play a whole song in the band book, encourage him to concentrate instead on one or two measures. Small steps lead to big improvements!

3. The pieces at beginning of the book are boring, but the ones in the back of the book are too hard. When students begin reading music, the pieces they’re able to play aren’t exactly exciting. However, these simple pieces of music help students gain important musical understanding, skills that enable them to build a strong foundation for future musical success. Even if your child doesn’t enjoy these early pieces, encourage her to practice them carefully anyway. By mastering easy tunes today, your child creates the possibility to succeed at tougher music down the road.

09.17.17

Four Steps to Excellent Music Reading

Posted in helping your child succeed, practice, reading music at 5:00 am by Administrator

Music reading

At this point in the year, all our band students are reading musical notation. The beginners are just getting started, learning to decipher the written notes and translate them into correct fingerings and lip positions on their instruments. On the other hand, the already-fluent readers in the Continuing Band are now exploring deeper challenges: new notes, complex rhythms, and accidentals. Even through our two bands are in different places on the music reading spectrum, there is an easy strategy that can help all students strengthen their reading abilities–The Four Steps!

The Four Steps help students make connections among the written notes, their names, and how they’re played. Instead of guessing whether they’re playing the right notes, students who use these steps truly know “the whole story” about the music they play! When your child has trouble with his music, encourage him to isolate the problem spot, and:

Step 1. Count the rhythm.

Step 2. Say the names of the notes.

Step 3. Say the names of the notes, fingering them on the instrument.

Step 4. Play the piece.

Doing the Four Steps can be more time-consuming than just playing through a measure several times; however, it’s also a much more powerful way of practicing! Encourage your child to count for you, or say her pitches for you, in addition to playing her music. The more students practice making meaningful connections with written music, the better their reading–and playing–abilities will be!