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#951121 - 03/05/08 01:55 AM How to sharpen the note reading skills of a 7 yr old?
Peter Patrick Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/03/08
Posts: 5
My 7 yr old son has been taking private piano lessons for 2 yrs. It was once a week for 30 minutes and now he is taking lessons twice a week (one lesson at 30 min and the 2nd one at 15min). The teacher recommends that he goes twice a week and I do not play the piano.

The teacher just shows him to play a song and now my son is slowly finally reading the notes...but still not well.... The teacher does some ear training and never does drilling of the notes. He is Hungarian and believes music instruction should start very early. So learning the piano has been fun for my son.

My son at home gets frustrated during the process while he is perfecting a song. Once he can play, he feels a sense of accomplishment and will keep playing. However, he plays about 20 min each day only..and I am not sure if that is adequate.

I want to find out how I can build a stronger foundation so my boy can read the notes more effectively. Are there fun games I can get to make it a fun way for him to learn? I have read somewhere that there are musical crazy 8, etc so while playing he is learning his notes...

Any advice will be appreciated....
Piano Newbie

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#951122 - 03/05/08 09:12 AM Re: How to sharpen the note reading skills of a 7 yr old?
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13119
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
There are many games out there, but might I recommend a computer program such as Music Ace? I have that for my students and they really love to do it! It is geared for children and makes note reading and other theory aspects fun.

As far as how much he practices, what does his teacher recommend? Is he playing elementary level songs? If so, 20-30 minutes is appropriate. Perhaps spend that 20-30 minutes in practice, and then as a reward let him spend 15 minutes on Music Ace (or some other music theory game)? Since he started when he was 5, his reading ability in words probably wasn't proficient then, so it's possible that your student's teacher decided it was best to learn by ear until he was developmentally ready to learn note reading. However, I teach 5 year olds to read notes, so I'm not sure I agree with his approach. At any rate, your teacher should be working with him on note reading at this point. I would talk to him about that and let him know your child is frustrated because he struggles during practice time. Communication with a teacher is extremely important, but often parents are afraid to hurt their feelings. As a teacher myself, I love it when parents come to me to tell me such things. I only see them for 30 minutes a week, and parents see them much more often than that! They know what goes on during practice time, and so that information is vital to me. Simply stick to the facts, that he is frustrated, and that you think it is because he can't read the notes and you'd like him to work with him on that. No harm done, and if his teacher takes offense to that, I suggest finding another teacher.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#951123 - 03/06/08 02:26 PM Re: How to sharpen the note reading skills of a 7 yr old?
mindyw Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/31/07
Posts: 13
Loc: Iowa
I think it is great that you are aware of your son's frustration and talking to the teacher is a good step in the right direction.

Music Ace would be a fun way to incorporate not just note naming but all sorts of other theory related drill.

On a less costly, but still highly effective level is flashcards. How you incorporate them into your child's practice routine is up to you; as part of his 20 minutes or extra.

I really like Piano Adventures flashcards by FJH. It has 3 questions per card, each question a variation of the 1st. Have your son name the note, and then also play it at the piano, correlating note on page to sound and keyboard.

One final thought: I give families who do not play the trifold chart called Music Notes by Barbara Lopez from FJH. It is just an easy reference for students and parents alike to quickly answer some basic beginner music questions.

For under $10 you can help your son immensely by working alongside his teacher and boosting his confidence when practicing.

Good luck!

#951124 - 03/06/08 06:17 PM Re: How to sharpen the note reading skills of a 7 yr old?
ftp Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/10/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Philadelphia
Peter Patrick,

I would take the advice of the teachers here but I have 2 boys that have been playing for several years and the flashcards were very effective. In retrospect they were only necessary for a short period of time- I seem to recall that the kids were "cheating" initially by relying on fingering instead of reading the music.

Another device I bought moved a plastic note up and down the bass and treble clef and I would ask the kids what note it was.

My recollection is that neither the flash cards nor the other tool were considered drudgery, in fact they both would try to beat the other in terms of how much time it took to get through the deck.


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