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#2020916 - 01/25/13 05:09 AM Help with student - upset over reading music
CMS5 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 3
Loc: Leighton Buzzard / Milton Keyn...
Hi,

I have a 12 year old student who is currently working through book 2 of Accelerated Piano Adventures. I'm supplementing it with the ragtime and marches book which he seems to like, however this morning I've woke up to an email from his mum which I'll paste below. I had no idea he was getting so worked up and upset over reading the notes, I'm teaching a make-up lesson this afternoon in which we'll look at a piece by rote and maybe play around with some ear training games etc, step back from the books but I'm not sure how best to help him - I'm sure some of you will have some excellent suggestions and I'd be very grateful to hear any advice.

Here's the email from his mum:-

- I do really struggle to get him to practice but when he finally sits down to play a new song he will always call me……….. Where do you start? Just play it through. I say read the music and then you will know. No, just show me! So off I go and show him and he listens and looks. I finish and he starts playing and very often not looking at the music.
Marine Hymn is great. He wouldn’t practice it for a couple of days. I had to show him and then he played the entire song through reading the music and didn’t make one mistake first time played! (It was almost too easy)
Ob la di – he chose this song and wanted to play it but he will not read the music. He sings it in his head while playing the right hand. I say what about the left? Oh I can’t read it……… I know how it goes anyway!
I’m not too sure what to make of it. He will drum away on the table all afternoon while he is meant to be doing homework. I can almost pick out the song he is drumming. Reading music does not come naturally to him. He doesn’t seem to know which note to start on and struggles with sharps and flats.
Are we on the right track with him? He will often land up crying if I make him read the music on his own (Particularly if he doesn’t know the tune). He says he can’t. I say well what do you want to do – shall I tell the music teacher? No, I really want to play, I love music…………….
I don’t really want him to know that I have told you all this. He is a very sensitive kid. Have you any ideas what to do? He has an excellent memory for what a song is meant to sound like. If Lorelle is singing a song slightly wrong he will always correct her and give him his due, he is generally spot on.

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#2020938 - 01/25/13 06:19 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Parent's don't normally write like that unless there's a problem. It may be he hasn't been coping with the reading aspect (but been doing a lot of lucky guesses or playing by ear) for some time and now it's catching up with him.

How about assessing him with some sightreading to see how he's really doing?

A trick I've been doing lately is to get them to tap the rhythm of the rh with the right hand on right leg, while also doing the left hand on the left leg. It's difficult to read two lines at a time.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2020943 - 01/25/13 06:34 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: ten left thumbs]
CMS5 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 3
Loc: Leighton Buzzard / Milton Keyn...
Thanks ten left thumbs

I took him and his sister on as transfer students just over a month ago, when his mum first called about lessons she explained that they'd had 3 different teachers in the past so it seems their learning is a bit disjointed. His sister is the opposite, I did some aural tests with them both and the boy was brilliant and his sister struggled, sightreading was the other way round.

I'm debating between taking him back a level and reinforcing the reading that way or to keep him where he is but use things like I Can Read Music to build the reading up alongside. Either way, I'm concerned that they've had teachers left right and centre and don't want to do any damage but at the same time I need to keep it fun, the last thing I want is a child in tears.

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#2020960 - 01/25/13 07:39 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 88
Loc: Europe
It may be good to try to separate the learning of pieces from exercising his reading abilities as much as possible for the moment. You could give him pieces which are much easier to read (but which are so interesting that he doesn't notice they're much easier) and do lots of note reading exercises on the side. There are various note reading games which make the whole thing more playful.

To learn the new pieces, it might help him, if you show him that he doesn't always have to read ALL the notes, but that there are patterns (scales, intervals, chords, etc.) which make reading so much easier. Show him, how the use of correct fingerings helps learning a piece as well. Why not choose a piece which is especially good to work on this?
_________________________
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
(Katie Melua)

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#2020977 - 01/25/13 08:14 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: CowanMusicSchool
Thanks ten left thumbs


I'm debating between taking him back a level and reinforcing the reading that way or to keep him where he is but use things like I Can Read Music to build the reading up alongside.


Possibly you could do a bit of both? Take him off his current book so he doesn't feel he's going backward. Fairly much all my transfer students were poor at reading (but they don't exactly volunteer this info) and I've come to the conclusion other teachers just demo for them to copy, so they never learn to read.

Do you know why there've been so many teachers in the past?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2020993 - 01/25/13 09:02 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: pianomouse]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11940
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: pianomouse
It may be good to try to separate the learning of pieces from exercising his reading abilities as much as possible for the moment. You could give him pieces which are much easier to read (but which are so interesting that he doesn't notice they're much easier) and do lots of note reading exercises on the side. There are various note reading games which make the whole thing more playful.

To learn the new pieces, it might help him, if you show him that he doesn't always have to read ALL the notes, but that there are patterns (scales, intervals, chords, etc.) which make reading so much easier. Show him, how the use of correct fingerings helps learning a piece as well. Why not choose a piece which is especially good to work on this?


Another thing you can do is the opposite - help him to see how his ear can help him read. For example, you can take a tune he's familiar with and have him listen to it. Then listen again while following along in the music. Have him point to the notes as he listens. Do this before he even tries to play a note, then have him play, but make sure he's accurate. Don't let him make it up.

Also, the parent needs to stop "helping" him at once! They've become a crutch for him, and it's now a big secret that they can't read, and so the child is probably ashamed of himself. Let them know that you are aware of the problem but that you understand completely and want to help them. Tell them you believe they can do it, but they have to trust YOU to teach them how. This means they have to try whatever you tell them to do.

Even if they get it wrong, they need to make the attempt. I often will say, "Don't worry about the results, if you try and it doesn't work, that's MY fault, not yours. You can blame me. But if you don't try, that's YOUR fault." Once you take on the responsibility of the mistakes and they take on the responsibility of simply making the attempt at whatever their assignment is, then learning will occur.
_________________________
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MTNA member
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2020997 - 01/25/13 09:08 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
If he's a transfer student, do you know what he knows and doesn't know. He might not even recognize notes in the score, or be able to relate them on the piano. He might have been given finger numbers. He might have learned to play by imitating recordings or his teacher(s). Foundations for everything are created in the beginning, and if that isn't there with the first teacher, the lack of foundation can be perpetuated with every teacher thereafter, especially if they "helped" him by playing it for him, etc. What doesn't he know? What does he think he knows, but knows wrongly?

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#2021373 - 01/25/13 09:09 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 352
I'd give him some flash cards. At this point, the "normal" way of teaching notes isn't working because his aural memory is allowing him to cheat. You can't cheat flash cards. They're less fun, but maybe he'll just have to get down to the business of learning the notes for the sake of learning the notes.
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

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#2021379 - 01/25/13 09:26 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Note naming is not reading.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#2021477 - 01/26/13 03:00 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Morodiene]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 975
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

Also, the parent needs to stop "helping" him at once! They've become a crutch for him, and it's now a big secret that they can't read, and so the child is probably ashamed of himself. Let them know that you are aware of the problem but that you understand completely and want to help them. Tell them you believe they can do it, but they have to trust YOU to teach them how. This means they have to try whatever you tell them to do.

Even if they get it wrong, they need to make the attempt. I often will say, "Don't worry about the results, if you try and it doesn't work, that's MY fault, not yours. You can blame me. But if you don't try, that's YOUR fault." Once you take on the responsibility of the mistakes and they take on the responsibility of simply making the attempt at whatever their assignment is, then learning will occur.


These are good thoughts - I agree. Parents sometimes hinder the child's learning because they are trying to do the learning for the child.

It's like exercising at the fitness center for someone else. Doesn't work that way.
_________________________
Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2021585 - 01/26/13 10:53 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Minniemay]
Brinestone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/10
Posts: 352
No it isn't, any more than knowing the ABC's is reading. But it's hard to read if you don't know your alphabet, and I do think note naming would help this particular student, at least a few good landmarks. I also think he could benefit from intervallic reading instruction, but I'm not sure if he's had any of that yet.
_________________________
Piano teacher since 2008, member of NFMC

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#2021591 - 01/26/13 11:05 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I do almost nothing with note naming until intervallic reading is secure. That's where I'd start. It's a lot less intimidating.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#2021599 - 01/26/13 11:13 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
I think with a transfer student, especially one who has been through three teachers, you want to assess what the student knows and doesn't know, and check for wrong understanding of things too.

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#2021608 - 01/26/13 11:40 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4415
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...Another thing you can do is the opposite - help him to see how his ear can help him read. For example, you can take a tune he's familiar with and have him listen to it. Then listen again while following along in the music. Have him point to the notes as he listens. Do this before he even tries to play a note, then have him play, but make sure he's accurate. Don't let him make it up..."

The natural-language method; the same way that we learn as infants to first hear, then understand, then speak, then read and write our mother tongue.

I'd almost say it is especially so, because this child is a natural drummer and has an innate understanding of rhythm (so tricky when reading it on the page). If you can hook up what he already knows and loves with what he sees on the page, and help him understand how reading can help him go further and understand (and do) more... you will have accomplished a great service. This is the very meaning of the word, 'education,' to 'lead out' (or, to 'bring along the way') what is already inherently present in potential within the student.

I do this quite a bit: follow in the score (if I can keep up) along with a recording by an accomplished performer, with a piece I love. It helps my brain make sense of the ink spots on the page, and gives me incentive to keep going. And, so much registers subliminally.

You may as well--- at least tacitly--- throw the former teachers under the bus and start over with this kid. Making a young child feel bad, or incapable, or stupid to the point he is crying shows that the foundation is not sufficient to support even the present learning, never mind that of the future.

Morodine has a point about the parent's helping in a way that may not be helpful, but the letter shows that she's unusually caring and observant. Once you can all get on the same page, this kind of parent can be really good. She's at least accurately describing what she sees, and is asking for guidance--- and that can go a long way. So, good luck to you all.
_________________________
Clef


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#2021637 - 01/26/13 12:40 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
This is a wild thought ---- learn to WRITE things he invents by ear, to create that connection?

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#2022039 - 01/27/13 08:31 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Jeff Clef]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11940
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef


Morodine has a point about the parent's helping in a way that may not be helpful, but the letter shows that she's unusually caring and observant. Once you can all get on the same page, this kind of parent can be really good. She's at least accurately describing what she sees, and is asking for guidance--- and that can go a long way. So, good luck to you all.


Of course, I didn't mean to sound too harsh about the parent. I'm sure it's the fact that she cares that she is trying to help him, and just doesn't realize she's creating obstacles for him in the process. Coming up with a game plan with the parent(s) is going to be very helpful in the long run.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2022043 - 01/27/13 08:39 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11940
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: keystring
This is a wild thought ---- learn to WRITE things he invents by ear, to create that connection?


This is another great idea that I've used in many circumstances. In this instance, he should first make up a song that he can play for you the next time you have a lesson. This shouldn't be hard, but make sure he knows he has to be able to play what he made up for you (and not make up something else at the lesson). Tell him that it might be tough to remember everything, though, so he may want to write it down so he can play it exactly as he made it up at home. Let him know any way that makes sense to him is acceptable, because it only has to remind him how to play it. It doesn't even have to look like the music in his books!

When I've assigned this to students, they usually come up with some pretty interesting ways of notating what they play. A lot of times they can play more complicated things than they can write, so they really have to be creative. And of course, this whole exercise helps them to realize that is all reading notes is about: a road map to remind you how the song goes. If you've never heard the song before, then that map needs to be really clear, and they begin to be open to the idea of notation from a composer's perspective.

Students (adults and children both) need to be reassured that they can actually make music, and that they are, inherently musical beings, so this can have other benefits in addition to reading notation.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2022334 - 01/27/13 06:44 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 311
Loc: CA
+1 to what Jeff said. For somebody who seems to be naturally gifted, do not fight his natural learning methods. Build on them. Both thoughts that came to my mind have been suggested above:
- give him better arrangements for songs that he has learned by ear so that he has a motivation to read
- ask to write down what he hears in his head


Edited by rlinkt (01/27/13 06:46 PM)

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#2022357 - 01/27/13 07:20 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I do almost nothing with note naming until intervallic reading is secure. That's where I'd start. It's a lot less intimidating.

Bingo!

To me, it sounds like this is one of those classic transfer "wrecks" who have been allowed to advance too quickly without a firm understanding of the basics. So many teachers focus on the simple coverage of method books. They go from one book to the next, passing one poorly-prepared piece after another. And then teachers like me end up with these Piano Adventures 2B/3A transfers who really should still be in the Primer book.

I also encounter this problem with students whose parents play piano and try to "help" their kids. In my experience, none of these parents were taught intervallic reading, so they teach their kids "Every Good Boy Does Fine" and "Good Boys Do Fine Always" before I have a chance to teach steps and skips!! These parents think they can save money by getting their kids as far ahead as possible, as quickly as possible, with ZERO regard to their kids' natural absorption rate. The absolute worst cases occur when the parents have to demonstrate the piece for the child. The child memorizes it, never reading a note, and then plays back verbatim during lessons. So when I teach a new piece, their first questions for me are "Can you play it for me?" or "Where do I put my hands?"

I see that this student came to you about a month ago. This is the time when more and more issues will surface. I've got some transfers who have been with me 3 months to a year, and they never cease to surprise me with one deficiency after another.

My best advice to you is to pull the students out of their current method books and start over with something else.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2022365 - 01/27/13 07:31 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: keystring]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: keystring
I think with a transfer student, especially one who has been through three teachers, you want to assess what the student knows and doesn't know, and check for wrong understanding of things too.

Speaking from (ample) experience, I can safely tell you that things are not always clear at first with these transfer students. I have students who continue to exhibit new problems even after spending six months studying with me. The hardest thing is deciding between starting over completely or fixing things as they come up.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2022682 - 01/28/13 08:15 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: AZNpiano]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11940
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: keystring
I think with a transfer student, especially one who has been through three teachers, you want to assess what the student knows and doesn't know, and check for wrong understanding of things too.

Speaking from (ample) experience, I can safely tell you that things are not always clear at first with these transfer students. I have students who continue to exhibit new problems even after spending six months studying with me. The hardest thing is deciding between starting over completely or fixing things as they come up.


I agree with AZN here. It is really difficult to find out what a transfer student knows, even after a month of lessons. You'll still be discovering new loopholes in their knowledge base - things that you would have taught them long ago. Transfer students really are a challenge for the most part. It's rare that you get one where the student was taught sufficiently so you can just move forward. Usually the reason the student is a transfer is due to the poor teaching they received, but not always. Sometimes it's just a stroke of luck that got them out.

I would say it takes up to 6 months to really get the student into a good routine of practicing and forward progress.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2022759 - 01/28/13 10:41 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4415
Loc: San Jose, CA
You'll know you're there when the student cries because he has to miss a lesson, rather than crying when he has to attend one.
_________________________
Clef


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#2022779 - 01/28/13 11:27 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
We treat this case of a sight-reading block as though it were a rare condition calling for the most deeply considered quantification ... what a load of codswallops ... we are shackled the bug of sight-reading mystification and suffer the agony of uphill groping-in-the-dark with every fresh piece of music studied. (True, it gets a bit easier with the passing years ... but perhaps only because of a thicker hide).

Newcomers to the keyboard face the bleakest of horizons ... and the watchword constantly voiced from the sidelines is never comforting ... just that endless road of dedication and perseverance.
(enough to drive a chappie to drink!)

Any wonder then, that there is a cry from the crib ...
get real, people ... and try to put over an atmosphere of fun in playing the piano ... failure to do so inevitably ends in the discombobulated student
packing in piano lessons and taking up sky-diving.

If the Piano Teacher can’t make lessons fun ...
then they should be instantly shipped to Timbuktu.

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#2022842 - 01/28/13 01:19 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: btb]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: btb
We treat this case of a sight-reading block as though it were a rare condition calling for the most deeply considered quantification

The "sight-reading block" problem that persists may come from many different factors, and it is the teacher's job to diagnose the problems and offer solutions. I'm not sure if anybody here is calling such block a "rare condition," but some people are more interested in solving problems than naming problems.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#2024323 - 01/30/13 10:48 PM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Jonathan Baker Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/09/09
Posts: 343
Loc: New York City!
If I may add some of my experience at dealing with students and sight-reading...

Most elementary piano students avoid actually reading the music and instead try to memorize instantly. This is very common. In fact, it is the norm. What we fear - we avoid, and in the process a problem becomes enlarged beyond reasonable proportion in our imagination, so much so that our fear itself becomes the huge obstacle more the actual task in question.

The fingers may be far quicker and agile than the eyes. And agile fingers can play faster than the ear can sometimes follow. We humans have been very clever at using our fingers to make tools for thousands of years, but on a wide-spread level, humans have been reading abstract written language only very recently in history. The eyes, not just the fingers, need training. And let us acknowledge that playing the keyboard is a direct and tangible process with immediate results, while reading is inherently abstract and requires translation within the brain before being transferred into physical action.

When I encounter a fearful reader, I take them several notches below their finger-technic level. In fact, I always begin at the very beginning with children or adults, and I tell them why: not only must the eyes be cultivated to coordinate with the fingers, confidence must be built up as well, and that also takes practice. We do not become confident by repeatedly failing. So we practice success and confidence from the start.

Too many sight-reading books sabotage the reader with print that is far too small. The print should be larger than usual. The music should not be an obstacle course of disconnected pitches, but flowing easily in lineal movements not requiring any turning under or over of the hand. I am exceedingly picky about what sight-reading material I use. For beginners I have had success with the new Faber beginner sight-reading material because it meets these requirements (yes, those books with the cartoons in stick figures - but children take to it like eating popcorn).

The single biggest mistake students at all levels make is they throw their hands into the keyboard before reading anything at all, not even the key signature and meter. I don't allow that, not ever! First, with hands OFF of the keyboard, we slowly read through the music with our eyes before playing a note (this was Liszt's method, and as he was probably the greatest sight-reader in history I don't mind following his example). With the student we sing and count through the music. Now we know what to expect, so now we play. Naturally, it always goes much more smoothly. Page follows page and we are on our way. It is just that simple.

I take a space of time within each lesson to walk through the process with the student. When sight-reading becomes more advanced I still require the same process: read through the score first to make note of figurations of scales, chords, patterns, etc., not to mention key and meter changes. Once again, we know what to expect, and only then do we play. It always goes much more smoothly. At the intermediate level I still prefer easily readable texts with the music logically laid out. The Clementi sonatinas are a good example.

In traditional classical music repertoire, perfection is always at the top of the priority list, but that ingrained disposition is poison to sight-reading. So I alert students to the fact that we are, well, sight-reading, which means that flawless perfection is not our goal, only the flowing process of reading through the music. Stopping to correct wrong notes may signal admirably moral penance, but sight-reading is a different process and we simply will not do that here. We leave any stray notes behind as we move through the score. This liberates students from that overwhelming fear factor of hitting wrong notes. Afterwards one can look back to clean up details and then sweep through the music again with even greater confidence.










_________________________
Jonathan Baker
http://www.BakerPianoLessons.com/index.htm

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#2024415 - 01/31/13 02:55 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Jonathan Baker]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Jonathan Baker

Too many sight-reading books sabotage the reader with print that is far too small.


This drives me nuts. The other thing is busy artwork on the page that distracts the eye.
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#2024496 - 01/31/13 08:34 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: Jonathan Baker]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2434
Loc: Minneapolis, MN

Jonathon, thank you for this extremely informative post. It has helped answer a number of questions I've had lately about the process of learning a piece. The timing for me is perfect as I'm about to take up.a new piece, and this has helped me to better understand not only the importance of reading a piece, but to understand how this builds the foundation for eventually performing the piece.
_________________________
Carl


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#2024607 - 01/31/13 11:45 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
bmbutler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/10
Posts: 226
Loc: North Carolina
Might be coming late to the conversation - but this is a student who is relying on his ear to play. I have had three of these types of students. Teachers would play the songs for them and then were amazed that the student could play it almost perfectly at the next lesson. All three had parents who caught on to the problem with music reading. It was a struggle all of them to teach them to read music and not rely on their "music imagination," but it has turned out well. One even thanked me for going back and teaching them to read it.

One thing I also do with every student is analyize the piece. Break it down by going over fingering, notes, etc even the form. Many of the Faber pieces are in ABA or similar form. Some of my students that slightly panic at seeing a piece on the 2B-4 level relax quite a bit when we go over it this way and see the repetition.
_________________________
Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983

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#2025052 - 02/01/13 04:17 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
CMS5 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/18/12
Posts: 3
Loc: Leighton Buzzard / Milton Keyn...
sorry to get back to you all so late, there's some really great advice in there so thank you all. I spent the make up reviewing a march he'd learned that week, he played it almost perfectly but his eyes weren't following the music. We spent most of the lesson looking at improvising on the 12-bar blues and then writing out his ideas which he seemed to enjoy, we then looked at a sight reading piece which he played rhythmically fine but the left hand was a whole tone down the whole time. I gently confronted him about reading bass clef and he admitted he found it hard, I pulled out a worksheet showing guide notes and how easy it is to work up or down from them, went over the bass clef ones several times and looked at another sight reading piece, he got every note right.

I'm going to keep looking at the sight reading and reiterating the fact that he doesn't have to work out every single note as long as he recognizes the intervals.

Thank you everyone for your input - it's nice to hear from people who've gone through similar situations with other students and how they've tackled it.

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#2025131 - 02/01/13 08:07 AM Re: Help with student - upset over reading music [Re: CMS5]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11940
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: CMS5
sorry to get back to you all so late, there's some really great advice in there so thank you all. I spent the make up reviewing a march he'd learned that week, he played it almost perfectly but his eyes weren't following the music. We spent most of the lesson looking at improvising on the 12-bar blues and then writing out his ideas which he seemed to enjoy, we then looked at a sight reading piece which he played rhythmically fine but the left hand was a whole tone down the whole time. I gently confronted him about reading bass clef and he admitted he found it hard, I pulled out a worksheet showing guide notes and how easy it is to work up or down from them, went over the bass clef ones several times and looked at another sight reading piece, he got every note right.

I'm going to keep looking at the sight reading and reiterating the fact that he doesn't have to work out every single note as long as he recognizes the intervals.

Thank you everyone for your input - it's nice to hear from people who've gone through similar situations with other students and how they've tackled it.


Congratulations! Its sounds as though this lesson was the exact opposite of the melt down one. It's always good to be able to pull a student out of the mire when they have a bad lessons like that, and remind them that making music is work, but it is fun, too. Often, we make it harder for ourselves than it has to be. wink
_________________________
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MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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