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#1886445 - 04/25/12 04:51 PM Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
First of all, it was Johnny and Jill about a million years. Then Dick and Jane.

Today it should probably be Jayden and Isabella... laugh

But the problem remains. The majority of students who come to me, transfer students, can't read music. I don't mean that they are not excellent readers. I don't even mean that their reading is somewhat weak.

They barely read the treble clef, and they have no idea how to read the bass clef.

My point is that if English (or any mother language) were taught with the same degree of success as music-reading, perhaps one or two percent of all students finishing high school would be able to read books.

It's that bad.

Part of this can be blamed on zero support for what we do. Reading music is not part of school. It is not a subject or a requirement. No one has to read music to get into college. Obviously that is a huge factor.

But how much of it has to do with totally wrong or inefficient ways of teaching music reading? I think that 50% of the failure has to rest on the shoulders of teachers, and that is probably conservative.

It seems to me that, in general, that the teachers who regularly participate in this forum are in the minority of teachers who are doing everything possible to "beat the odds". I suspect that if I got student from many of the teachers here, who happend to move to my area and stumble into my world, I would probably be overjoyed.

But what I get coming from other teachers in this area is astoundingly awful. That does not mean, of course, that there are not other good teachers here. It does suggest that those luckys students who have really good teachers and who do not move probably stick with them. They are the fortunate ones.

I'll start it off with these ideas. I do not claim to have all the answers to this huge problem. I'm still trying to find out some of the "questions", because each year a few students who I mentally "cross of my list" of people who might do well totally shock me and take of like rockets. And there are always students I have who seem to be moving along great, then suddenly they lose interest and disappear.
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#1886476 - 04/25/12 05:40 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Jayden and Isabella...


Originally Posted By: Gary D.
(H)ow much of it has to do with totally wrong or inefficient ways of teaching music reading? I think that 50% of the failure has to rest on the shoulders of teachers, and that is probably conservative.

Gary, I believe you are being too kind! How about 95%?
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#1886483 - 04/25/12 05:57 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
BinghamtonPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/29/11
Posts: 91
Loc: New York
I have students who seem to pick up music reading fairly easily, and others seem to struggle a bit more. I have come up with some more creative ways to teach the ones that have more difficulty with reading. I completely agree that teachers need to focus on music reading as part of learning to play.
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#1886493 - 04/25/12 06:15 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You live in a much different world than I do, Gary.
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#1886499 - 04/25/12 06:19 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Jayden and Isabella...


Originally Posted By: Gary D.
(H)ow much of it has to do with totally wrong or inefficient ways of teaching music reading? I think that 50% of the failure has to rest on the shoulders of teachers, and that is probably conservative.

Gary, I believe you are being too kind! How about 95%?

laugh LOL
Originally Posted By: BinghamtonPiano
I have students who seem to pick up music reading fairly easily, and others seem to struggle a bit more. I have come up with some more creative ways to teach the ones that have more difficulty with reading. I completely agree that teachers need to focus on music reading as part of learning to play.

If you have anything that works, please share it!

The worst that can happen is that you will mention some idea of technique that some of us already know. smile
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#1886500 - 04/25/12 06:20 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I know what you mean, Gary, having moved recently to the area. It seems there are a lot of "schools" where they run through students in the guise of music education, but really it's glorified babysitting. There are fine teachers, too, for sure (I have actually met some of them), but those are not the ones that belong to guilds or hold to any standard.

On top of that, you have students who are more than likely not in a musical family - the idea of every home having a piano in the living room a couple of generations since past - let alone have ever heard of traditional American folk tunes other than Happy Birthday. These songs were always taught in schools, camps, and even sung at home (I remember my mother singing German and French folk songs to me, along with American when I was young). So now the only context that many kids today have is what's heard on the radio in mainstream pop music.

So the idea of reading music is foreign and even questionable as to it's necessity in learning to play an instrument. It really is an uphill battle, and I try to make note reading as easy as possible without allowing students to get away with not learning to read the notes. But it does take time, especially with transfers to get them caught up to where they should be.
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#1886537 - 04/25/12 07:13 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Morodiene]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I know what you mean, Gary, having moved recently to the area. It seems there are a lot of "schools" where they run through students in the guise of music education, but really it's glorified babysitting. There are fine teachers, too, for sure (I have actually met some of them), but those are not the ones that belong to guilds or hold to any standard.

You really have to live here to believe what we are up against. And about holding to any standard: where I live, you just have to create your own standard.
Quote:

On top of that, you have students who are more than likely not in a musical family - the idea of every home having a piano in the living room a couple of generations since past - let alone have ever heard of traditional American folk tunes other than Happy Birthday. These songs were always taught in schools, camps, and even sung at home (I remember my mother singing German and French folk songs to me, along with American when I was young). So now the only context that many kids today have is what's heard on the radio in mainstream pop music.

This is all true, BUT:

Since I start all beginners under the age of eight with a parent and keep a parent in the lesson, even at age eight for awhile, I can educate on the fly. I am always connected (wifi), I am on the computer typing up weekly lesson assignments. The parents and I are both pointing to the music (notes) and matching them to my chart. Mostly the parents are pointing as I teach THEM how to teach their kids, at home. And we are continually flipping the chart up and down, testing to see that the notes are really getting in.

And my kids all use YouTube. (I don't use YouTube in lessons except with permission from the parents.) Example:

A student brought in something by Martha Mier. I don't know her stuff. So I sightread it (which goes right into our recent thread about swing), then we found people who played it on YouTube. I discussed the fact that one "performance" was pretty good, but it was too fast for the student to learn anything. I then played it at that fast tempo but repeated it, more slowly to show it could be effective at a slower tempo.

These kids have LIGHTNING fast hand/eye coordination and are becoming the fastest group of young readers I have ever had.
Quote:

So the idea of reading music is foreign and even questionable as to it's necessity in learning to play an instrument. It really is an uphill battle, and I try to make note reading as easy as possible without allowing students to get away with not learning to read the notes. But it does take time, especially with transfers to get them caught up to where they should be.

<sigh>
As I said, almost EVERY transfer student I get can't read. I can usually fix the problems, if the transfers stay with me, but can you imagine what it is like for kids over 12, coming in with YEARS of lessons, to be quite obviously reading at a level lower than some of the seven year-olds who are leaving?

And it's not just reading. It's everything: scales, chords, you name it. Anyone here can say, "I am a piano teacher", and they DO. It's really quite frightening. frown


Edited by Gary D. (04/25/12 07:23 PM)
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#1886543 - 04/25/12 07:16 PM Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Without any dog in this fight; and fully recognizing the precise problem you are addressing, Gary; I am going to play devil's advocate for a moment::

It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times. So, while "first grade" might be a good, AVERAGE time to start reading, many kids are doing so long before that, and many kids struggle with basic words and sentences (plus comprehension) into their eighth, ninth, and tenth years (probably beyond for some).

I think we might agree that music reading has its own, similarly wide span in years for those who are "ready" to read. In fact, music reading "readiness" probably naturally FOLLOWS readiness to read language, chronologically.

So, this Devil's Advocate submits (for the sake of discussion) that a good portion of the "success" that teachers here eventually have, with students that were here-to-fore not reading, may have as much to do with that student's chronological readiness to read music, as with any particular teaching technique or expertise. In other words, maybe the teacher just got the student at the right time.

And by logical extension therefore, the previous teacher was fighting a hopeless battle that was predestined to failure. The teacher did not fail -- the student's maturation clock doomed the learning.

Whatdaya think?
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#1886549 - 04/25/12 07:26 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: LoPresti]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12043
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.


Really? Can you cite any studies or authorities on this? I am not trying to be difficult, but I just don't take people's word for it anymore. Way too many assumptions being made based on misinformation. And if it is true, then it would be good information for me to have. smile
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#1886557 - 04/25/12 07:46 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Morodiene]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.


Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Really? Can you cite any studies or authorities on this? I am not trying to be difficult, but I just don't take people's word for it anymore. Way too many assumptions being made based on misinformation. And if it is true, then it would be good information for me to have. smile

Hi Morodiene,

I thought this was general knowledge. You certainly do not have to take my word as fact. Ask any variety of pre-school, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade teachers, continuing upward.

There are many, MANY studies on the subject, and I'll bet I have a few books right in my library - just need to dig them out, and will post.
Ed
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#1886582 - 04/25/12 08:42 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
This is my area, Ed, so let's see what can be done with this. smile I took educational psychology a long time ago so the only name that comes to mind is Piaget who set out developmental stages a proposed that optimum teaching happens when it is in line with natural "readiness". Other theories were put forth to counter this. Regardless, those stages do not go along the lines you have proposed. If you want to do some really interesting reading, look up Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf. Even better, ask to visit a school and observe, not forgetting to talk to the teachers. One element of the Steinerian approach is that it integrates body, mind, and spirit or feeling and as such probably comes the closest to what music education entails. Digressing for a moment, Steiner was asked in the early 1900's to form a school for the children of factory workers, and the outcome was not what was expected of children of labourers at that time. The world paid attention.

In regards to reading (words) itself. It will get too complex to set out all that it entails. It should be remembered however that the English language is illogical and arbitrary (though, tough, through, bough), and written music does not share that trait. Various strategies such as the whole language approach have been tried to overcome this.

I must say that I have never come across the theories you expressed, either in teacher training, or among other teachers, i.e.
Quote:
...that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.

In fact, "the capacity to read letters and words" isn't that familiar (had to think about that) because I think we dwell on how to develop that reading and what's behind it.

There seems to be an unspoken assumption that reading words and reading music are connected. Are they, necessarily? Or do they just have some common traits such as the fact of symbols on paper. Are the same areas of the brain involved? Is it the same process? Are there, for example, people who can read music with ease but have difficulty reading words? (I wouldn't be surprised).

What does reading music entail? Well, you have symbols on a page which get names according to their location and represent sounds both apart and together, and one after another. The coding and encoding don't work exactly like it does for written words. Tracking (eye movement across the page) is probably similar.

Another aspect of reading music is that you see notes on the page, and execute actions on an instrument. Part of this process can in fact be a direct physical link from page to hand. This is unlike reading words (except perhaps in touch typing).

I think the questions here are:
- How does reading music get taught so that it is effective?
- Does reading music get taught or is it often bypassed (memorization, finger numbers, rote imitation)?
- If it is not taught in schools, and not taught in lessons (see "bypass") then there is a problem.


If this is actually going on, then any question of reading words in school would have be secondary - assuming that the two are related - if relevant at all in this situation.


Edited by keystring (04/25/12 08:49 PM)

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#1886586 - 04/25/12 08:50 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13796
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Music Instruction: 30 minutes per week.

Language Arts: 2 hours per day, plus a pervasive use of written language in all aspects of a child's life, from signs on buildings to the internet.

I think that has a lot to do with it. No matter how effective the teacher is, if you're not in contact with something on a daily basis, your chances of mastering something is zero. (In other words, I think teachers give themselves way too much credit. There is no shortcut or substitute for quantity of time.)
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#1886598 - 04/25/12 09:27 PM Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Morodiene]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.


Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Really? Can you cite any studies or authorities on this? I am not trying to be difficult, but I just don't take people's word for it anymore. Way too many assumptions being made based on misinformation. And if it is true, then it would be good information for me to have. smile


Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Hi Morodiene,

I thought this was general knowledge. You certainly do not have to take my word as fact. Ask any variety of pre-school, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th grade teachers, continuing upward.

There are many, MANY studies on the subject, and I'll bet I have a few books right in my library - just need to dig them out, and will post.

Morodiene,

Here are a couple for starters:
**PSYCHOLOGY (5th Edition) by Norman Munn - Chapters on Maturation and Child Development
**EINSTEIN NEVER USED FLASH CARDS by Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff
**CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND by Allan Bloom – With a chapter devoted to Music
**IRON JOHN by Robert Bly - Steeped in metaphor and modern myths – not as clinical, but certainly as TRUE

As you probably know, I am patently against doing research “on line”, due to the gross amount of MIS-information boldly presented as fact. However, I did quickly bumble onto this, which seemed to have a degree of credibility:
http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/ArtEd/ChildDev/ChildDev.htm

Are you SURE you do not already know all this stuff?
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#1886610 - 04/25/12 09:53 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
This is my area, Ed, so let's see what can be done with this. . . . Regardless, those stages do not go along the lines you have proposed. If you want to do some really interesting reading,

Quote:
...that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.

In fact, "the capacity to read letters and words" isn't that familiar (had to think about that) because I think we dwell on how to develop that reading and what's behind it.

I think I see the problem >> I may need to go back to WRITING school, OR I may not be developmentally ready for writing!

I did not mean that an individual child would typically read letters at a drastically different time that s/he would read words. I meant that different children are ready to read at different times. One child may be more-than-ready to read at 4 years old, and another may still not be that “ready” at 7 years. Is this statement true, or are all those sources I just quoted wrong?

Further, I recall studies having shown that there are at least 7 different MODES of learning, and that the abstract/verbal aspects of reading represent only one of those modes. Perhaps I dreamt that too.
Ed
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#1886612 - 04/25/12 09:54 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Morodiene]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
It seems there are a lot of "schools" where they run through students in the guise of music education, but really it's glorified babysitting.


Bingo!
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#1886617 - 04/25/12 10:05 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11721
Loc: Canada
Ed, getting practical and past on-line links on general psychology, as a musician what are your thoughts on teaching reading music? I've put forth some thoughts on what music reading might entail including a physical component but they're rather off the cuff. It would be interesting to know your own thoughts on this, including how that might translate into learning. Of course an assumption has been made that reading is important, and maybe reading as a first stage might not be your own preferred way of going about it.

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#1886645 - 04/25/12 10:51 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
ymapazagain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/11
Posts: 65
Loc: Hobart, Australia
I am always amazed to get transfer students who struggle to read yet play pieces that are about grade 1 or 2 level. I have never had a single student that I have started from scratch who has had trouble with reading music. I don't think I do anything remarkable either. I simply ensure that the student is able to read the notes in a piece before they learn to play it. If they can't read the notes for a piece then they're not ready to play that piece. If they do have trouble with the occasional note then I make sure they work that note out and and then read it within context (naming notes from a few notes before to a few notes after). Maybe I've just been incredibly lucky, but really...it doesn't seem that hard!
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#1886665 - 04/25/12 11:27 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5300
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Music Instruction: 30 minutes per week.

Language Arts: 2 hours per day, plus a pervasive use of written language in all aspects of a child's life, from signs on buildings to the internet.
True, but at the same time we're talking about a system with 7 notes, 5 lines and something that if understood can work on its own, - period - Unlike language where each word has a different meaning, etc.

We're not talking about learning words (which would be harmony in all its essence), but learning the notes, the 7 notes and the idea of the bass clef!
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#1886666 - 04/25/12 11:28 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3214
Loc: Virginia, USA
I learned basic notes in 4th grade music class. Nothing complicated like sightsinging, but we certainly learned note names and counting in general music class.

That no longer exists.

The only thing available to most kids in school is band or chorus. Neither have the appeal of the sports arena, being populated by a lot of nerds, but at least it's there. (I was in both through high school, but I am a nerd and became an engineer.)

One of my own kids did choir and never learned to read music. Yet she always knew her part, led her section, and i have to admit the choir performed significantly better than the ones I performed in. They are more musical, more polished, more in tune, blend better, do more interesting music - but they can't sightread to save their life. I have reluctantly changed my mind about that being a bad idea.

I usually have 10 members in my handbell choir and usually 1 to 2 can read music, the rest circle their notes. There are about a dozen in my church choir; 2 of us read notes well, 2 have marginal skills on a good day. The rest learn by rote.
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#1886679 - 04/25/12 11:59 PM Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
It would be interesting to know your own thoughts on this, including how that might translate into learning. Of course an assumption has been made that reading is important, and maybe reading as a first stage might not be your own preferred way of going about it.

KeyString,

I may be singularly the “most wrong” person to whom to put this question. At a time when I was learning the most musically, I did not just enjoy reading, I LOVED IT! I took great pride in not only getting it right, but getting it right the first time! I was very fortunate to be able to sight-read (let’s not start that again!) virtually anything that came my way. I reveled in taking the printed page and making it instantly sing! I wanted to be the first to translate the hieroglyphics into sound.

In retrospect, I was so fond of reading only because it came so easily to me. It allowed me to devour large volumes of music (let’s not speak of the quality of playing!) And later, it allowed me to experience scores of scores, with all their hidden treasures, while sitting on my couch. HOWEVER, had I struggled with reading, my musical experience would have been drastically different - and not for the better I am sure!

I personally think of music reading as a cornerstone of musicianship, right along with playing, listening, and learning. Some might cite individuals like Dave Brubeck, George Shearing, and Ray Charles as examples of greats who did not need to read. My response is that it simply makes them all the more genius, that they were able to accomplish greatness without the ability to read; AND think of what else they may have been able to achieve with that reading facility.

To return for a moment to my comments about maturation, and readiness to read, I was keying on Gary’s “some students start with me and take off like rockets”. I would not presume to suggest how to go about teaching a reluctant or slow reader - I would be at a loss. But I do firmly believe that there are stages where a student is “ready” for certain things. I was not ready for Mahler when I was in my twenties; I am still not ready for Berg (and time is running out.) I believe that for something as physically/mentally complex as reading music, one must be ready.
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#1886706 - 04/26/12 12:59 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Morodiene]
Pedagogia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/14/09
Posts: 53
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.


Really? Can you cite any studies or authorities on this? I am not trying to be difficult, but I just don't take people's word for it anymore. Way too many assumptions being made based on misinformation. And if it is true, then it would be good information for me to have. smile



It is true and well-researched area. Among gifted students very well known - look up asynchronous development. Some students will have more well-developed domains. Piaget rings true here about children and levels of development.
Further, development is not alway moving chronologically, so yes some students will develop motor skills much quicker than others. Some will devleop aural or reading skills much more quickly than others.
Also, if can get access to journal articles, there is some good research done on the differences between experts and novices in piano, and their development of sight reading abilities - K.A Ericsson. Also J. Sloboda.

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#1886712 - 04/26/12 01:22 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
My very first student was classical Piaget. It was very obvious when she crossed a developmental line. We went from having the same beginning lessons for about a year and a half to playing a Bach prelude by the end of her 2nd year of study. It was truly like one of those lightbulb moments. I've never seen another student with quite that clear a crossover, but I observe it regularly. Everyone is on their own timeline.
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#1886715 - 04/26/12 01:24 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: TimR]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5510
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: TimR
One of my own kids did choir and never learned to read music. Yet she always knew her part, led her section, and i have to admit the choir performed significantly better than the ones I performed in. They are more musical, more polished, more in tune, blend better, do more interesting music - but they can't sightread to save their life. I have reluctantly changed my mind about that being a bad idea.


For choirs, there's a delicate balance between how much theory to teach and how much to depend on rote learning. Your daughter's choir director probably relied more on rote learning. You definitely can get choirs very far by rote learning alone; however, if these kids go on to become music majors, then they'll end up like all those voice majors who can't do theory.

I tutored several voice majors when I was in college. Their reading skills are so weak to begin with, and they have this mental block (affective filter) that prevents them from wanting to learn anything about theory.
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#1886722 - 04/26/12 01:52 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Minniemay]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times.


Originally Posted By: Pedagogia
It is true and well-researched area. Among gifted students very well known - look up asynchronous development. Some students will have more well-developed domains. Piaget rings true here about children and levels of development.
Further, development is not alway moving chronologically, so yes some students will develop motor skills much quicker than others. Some will devleop aural or reading skills much more quickly than others.

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
My very first student was classical Piaget. It was very obvious when she crossed a developmental line. We went from having the same beginning lessons for about a year and a half to playing a Bach prelude by the end of her 2nd year of study. It was truly like one of those lightbulb moments. I've never seen another student with quite that clear a crossover, but I observe it regularly. Everyone is on their own timeline.

Thank You Both! I was beginning to have serious doubts about whether I am developmentally ready to be posting on this Forum . . .
Ed
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In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1886732 - 04/26/12 02:50 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: LoPresti]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

It is a well known fact that individuals develop their capacities for reading letters and words at significantly different times. So, while "first grade" might be a good, AVERAGE time to start reading, many kids are doing so long before that, and many kids struggle with basic words and sentences (plus comprehension) into their eighth, ninth, and tenth years (probably beyond for some).

My knowledge of reading language is limited to watching my own students read the directions we create, together. This is something I started very recently, and it involves a very detailed and precise order in which to practice things. I give each student a printout of what we go over, and I have the "master copy" on my computer. Each lesson we start with the "plan" from the previous lesson.

I say, OK, what's the next step? As I listen to them read "the next step", this gives me a reality check about their reading ability. The only thing I can tell you is that I don't recall the last time I have taught a child much past the age of eight who had serious trouble reading my directions.

HOWEVER: I have some young students who read very fluenty, English, but who stumble for some time reading music. I have a few students - who have trouble following steps (meaning that they skip steps), or who reverse words, or skip words - who read music amazingly well. There are SO many factors here. For instance, I have been a voracious reader of both music and books since I was young, but I have horrendous problems following directions if they are not extremely simple and clear.

Also, I was a "slow reader" when I started 1st grade. I started young, and I was very small. By the end of 1st grade I became a fast reader, so my brain kicked in developmentally during that year.

I'm not making a one-to-one connection between language learning and learning to read music. I am merely pointing out that students who come to me from other teachers usually can't read music. And my students usually read very well. I don't think that learning to read music is harder than reading language. I don't think that reading music is taught as well, in general. I think it IS taught as well, by those teachers who know what they are doing.
Quote:

I think we might agree that music reading has its own, similarly wide span in years for those who are "ready" to read. In fact, music reading "readiness" probably naturally FOLLOWS readiness to read language, chronologically.

My personal experience does not support that. First of all, I don't think that music reading and language reading is processed in the same parts of the brain. I'm no expert, but I suspect there are overlaps, yes, but also different areas too. Back to personal experience: I have had students learn to read well who knew only their alphabet, just barely. Remember, my way of teaching is largely non-verbal and involves pointing and matching. A child who realizes that the "circle around the little line", what we call middle C or do, can find that note and match it to the picture of where it is. As that is happening, the parent and I can reinforce the letter name "C".

Now, how does the reading develop from that point? It is not unusual to see small children reading music on a level that is quite surprising while they are still struggling with basic language reading concepts. Which is developing faster? Who knows? But I think the idea that music reading readiness follows language reading readiness is an assumption, and a misleading one.
Quote:

So, this Devil's Advocate submits (for the sake of discussion) that a good portion of the "success" that teachers here eventually have, with students that were here-to-fore not reading, may have as much to do with that student's chronological readiness to read music, as with any particular teaching technique or expertise. In other words, maybe the teacher just got the student at the right time.

So, when I get children who do not read who are much older than my very young beginners who read, and when these older beginners start to read well the moment I start teaching them HOW to do it, in a sane way, should I assume that the last teachers were really fine teachers who just started these transfer students before they were ready? When the former teachers have written in every letter and every finger number? When they have used zeroxed copies of copyrighted materials, picked helter-skelter from here and there?

I won't bother to continue. I'll let other teachers chime in with their horror stories.
Quote:

And by logical extension therefore, the previous teacher was fighting a hopeless battle that was predestined to failure. The teacher did not fail -- the student's maturation clock doomed the learning.

Whatdaya think?

I think that you are describing "the exception that proves the rule". It is possible, for instance, that at some point a very young student whom I attempted to teach, too early, quit lessons with me, then restarted later with another teacher and was successful. However, the only time that might have occurred in the last couple decades would be when a pushy parent insisted that a child was ready when I was very skeptical, AND when the parent then bailed on me, leaving the child to struggle without help both in lessons and at home. And that is totally against what parents agree to when they start a child with me who is young.

I start young children off with a trial period, and if either the parents or I are not convinced that the time is right (oh God, this sounds like an ED ad!), then we stop lessons immediately.

That's another huge part of being an experience teacher - knowing when a student is not yet ready, because forcing a student to struggle before s/he is ready can be so discouraging that it may stop the student from experiencing success, when the time is right for her/him.


Edited by Gary D. (04/26/12 03:02 AM)
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#1886750 - 04/26/12 03:56 AM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: LoPresti]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
My very first student was classical Piaget. It was very obvious when she crossed a developmental line. We went from having the same beginning lessons for about a year and a half to playing a Bach prelude by the end of her 2nd year of study. It was truly like one of those lightbulb moments. I've never seen another student with quite that clear a crossover, but I observe it regularly. Everyone is on their own timeline.

I see something like that regularly with my really young ones. The parents, I think, often believe I am conning them when I assure them that things are developing. They struggle to match notes, either hand, then they struggle to sort out fingers. Little tunes don't sound like tunes to them, because they are too slow. Counting is not rhythmical, when we can get it going at all. Then, BAM, it all comes together and everything starts to work. It's like watching children learn to walk. One day they can't even stand, then a few months later they are running.

The only reason this seems more shocking when it happens so quickly with older kids is that we do not expect them to make such quick jumps. But sometimes they do. smile
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
[We're not talking about learning words (which would be harmony in all its essence), but learning the notes, the 7 notes and the idea of the bass clef!

The last point is what drives me crazy. Parents all assume that the bass clef is harder because their children are right-handed. They are shocked when I explain that left-handers are equally weak in bass-clef reading, and this is caused by FAULTY TEACHING.
Originally Posted By: LoPresti

I was very fortunate to be able to sight-read (let’s not start that again!) virtually anything that came my way. I reveled in taking the printed page and making it instantly sing! I wanted to be the first to translate the hieroglyphics into sound.

Did you teach yourself to do it? Did you have no help? It came astonishingly easily to me. I have no other ability that comes even CLOSE to my ability to sight-read, Ed. But I do think there are people who start out not showing any particularly unusual aptitude for a subject who later are astonishing.

Stages? Of COURSE there are stages. Good grief, we don't need to read studies to figure that out. Each person develops in his/her way, and different abilities "come on line" in a different order in different people. I did not start this thread claiming that anyone starting to play a musical instrument should be ready at that exact time. But part of being really sharp is knowing in your bones when someone is NOT fully ready for something, and being patient waiting for it to happen while working on other things. Music is a huge thing. A student can be behind in one area, average in another, and way ahead in another. You can plod away on basic reading, which may happen slowly for some time, while pushing ahead on chords and exploring sounds.

I have one third-grade transfer student who reads well (English) and who understands intervalic reading well (good logic, good understand of math) and who absolutely nails chords. But he is taking many months longer than most to remember the names of the keys, and also the names of the notes on the page. He's "slow" at this, meaning that some quirk in the way his mind works makes this one area difficult. But I'd take bets that he will end up a fast music reader. I can just feel it. There is a glitch, and when we solve it, he's going to take off.

I have a girl who just turned seven who is learning by herself, no parent in the room, and she is progressing as fast as my average student a good five years older. So, if I have a 12 year-old boy who is where she is, at seven, is that important? To me, what is important is what both of them will be doing at age 21, at age 30, etc. To me it is all about long-term learning. I see music as a positive addiction. Some people are never going to be great, but if they love playing, if they attain a level of success that makes them happy, if they never lose that love, I think they may get as much joy out of music as someone who becomes a "star" - especially considering how unhappy many supremely talented musicians turn out to be. frown
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#1886824 - 04/26/12 09:09 AM Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
GENERAL MUSIC READING:
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
The only reason this seems more shocking when it happens so quickly with older kids is that we do not expect them to make such quick jumps.


SIGHT READING:
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
. . . . . I do think there are people who start out not showing any particularly unusual aptitude for a subject who later are astonishing.


What a great subject!
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#1886925 - 04/26/12 12:41 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
MrsLois Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 75
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
I think as well, in addition to all of this, it should be considered what kind of lessons a student started out with. I teach Yamaha group piano, and depending on the age of the student, we may not do any reading before playing for the first two years. Some students who then graduate and go on to private lessons do struggle with reading, because the balance between their reading skills and their playing skills is very far off. I have two particular group graduates who are now starting grade 5 piano (this is their fourth year of playing, after completing a 3-year group course), and whilst the reading can be tricky, I usually find familiar patterns (i.e. scales, arpeggiated chords, zig zags, etc), and get them to play detective by finding these patterns in the score. If they know that it is a familiar pattern, then this is most of the reading battle won!

With some kids though, I think they will always struggle with reading, but thankfully, it is all these little struggles and our ability to help students through them successfully that keeps them coming back to us, and thus keeps us employed! smile

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#1886948 - 04/26/12 01:36 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: MrsLois]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: MrsLois
I think as well, in addition to all of this, it should be considered what kind of lessons a student started out with. I teach Yamaha group piano, and depending on the age of the student, we may not do any reading before playing for the first two years.

Why in heaven's name would you do that? Why would you have people play for two years without teaching them how to read? <confused>
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#1886959 - 04/26/12 01:48 PM Re: Why Johnny and Jill can't read ...[ahem}... music [Re: Gary D.]
MrsLois Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/12
Posts: 75
Loc: Manitoba, Canada
This would only be with 4-year-old beginners, and solely because their ear is developing so rapidly between the ages of 4 and 7. Also, the ability to simultaneously read and play does not get developed until they're 6 or 7 years old. Check out the following for a more detailed explanation:

http://ca.yamaha.com/en/music_education/courses/yamaha_music_education_system/

I am not saying that no student learns how to read in this system... they learn at the right age of their development.

One more thing I cannot stress enough with this program is that we do not claim to offer exactly the same things as private lessons. It is a totally different way of learning, and the results are much different from those of a private lesson.

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