New Student has studied Suzuki method, can't read music : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have a prospective new student who has studied the Suzuki method for 5 years and can play pieces rather well by ear but cannot read music very well at all. Her Suzuki teacher moved and her mother wants her to learn how to read music. My problem is this, what would be the best method of teaching this student so she doesn't get bored learning beginning sight reading skills, while still allowing her to play pieces to her early intermediate level? I don't want to end up playing her pieces for her, thus letting her learn by ear what she should be reading. Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated! (I prefer to use the Alfred method, but am open to anything!)

-- Amy (, January 09, 2003


I would say you and she are in a perfect position because she plays well by ear. Hurray! At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I would warmly encourage you to teach her to read by teaching her sight singing. Do it at a very accelerated pace, so that she doesn't get bored. The idea would be for her first to learn to sing easily at sight whatever she sees on the page. This includes singing accurately both clefs, difficult intervals and complicated rhythms.

Once it is clear that she can sing what she sees, then she should use her ear to imitate what she sings. The ideal reading process is: (1) hear what you see, and then (2) play what you hear. This way you won't have to play her pieces for her, she will be able to sing them for herself to find out how they sound.

Learning to sight sing is an excellent way to learn to read, because it involves producing the sound without the difficulty of having to play an instrument, and it engages the ear. I think it is always a good idea to minimize the association of particular lines or spaces or letter names with certain keys on the keyboard (like typing). Instead, focus on the *sound*.

Naturally there will be a few weeks of slower progress on learning to play more difficult pieces. You can prepare your student to expect this in advance by letting her know how much fun sight singing is. The payoff later will be worth it. Good luck. I wish all students had such a good ear as your Suzuki student appears to have before beginning to read.

-- Alan (, January 09, 2003.

This is both a response and a relating question. Does anybody still use flashcards to teach notes? I learned flashcards and had no problem, but it seems that I have many students that this doesn't work as easily. Are there any other methods used to simply recognize notes? Thank you!!

-- Erika (, January 21, 2003.

mostly for Erica.. I use flashcards, but we play matching games and tic-tac toe with them rather than the more traditional way of doing things. Also sometimes i do go fish to break things up. i have keyboard flashcards, term flashcards and note flashcards. and use all 3 with most students. when playing tic tac toe the student plays against me or the student before or after them.

-- Shannon Whaples (, March 28, 2003.

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