For those of us who have been reading music for years and years it is a challenge to put ourselves in the shoes of young kids who know NOTHING about music.
It seems so simple to us - the notes are either on lines or spaces. Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Every time you see a note on the bottom line, press valves 1 & 2 (for trumpet). That's all the kids should need to know to start reading music, right?
I sure thought so when I was in college, planning for a life of musical bliss as a high school band teacher. Years later I find myself working at a junior high school with kids who CAN'T GET IT NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I EXPLAIN IT!!!!!
Did I say that out loud? Yah, sometimes I feel a little frustrated. It is harder than it seems...five little lines with four - no, six spaces around them, plus extra little lines above and below...and extra spaces, and sharps and...non sharps, which are also called natural or...plain, regular, ordinary non-sharped and non-flatted notes. And...why isn't the bottom line (or bottom space) an "A"??! That would be so much easier!!!
So, teaching kids to read music takes small steps (hah, it's a musical pun), repetition, and...get ready for it...assessment! Yes, kids need to be assessed if they are going to learn and retain information. And, YOU need assessment data to tell you which kids aren't getting it and what exactly they don't get (and to make your principal happy).
Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The hard way involves stacks of paper and hours of your precious time. The easy way involves one iPad and a cheap little app - NinGenius Music!
Yes, this is the part of the blog where I shamelessly push a product on you, but I'll keep it short.
NinGenius Music is a fun, motivating, step-by-step app which features the two most important parts of music reading - note names AND fingerings on every possible instrument in your band & orchestra class. It keeps track of ALL of your students' progress with no paper, and provides assessment data (ooh, exciting!). Lastly, did I mention it is cheap?
Curtis Winters has taught Junior High Band & Orchestra for 17 years in Orem, UT.