Problems with note reading

August 23, 2018, 9:42 PM · This is about my little fiddler, who just turned 9 and is just starting Suzuki book 6. She has been doing note reading from the very start (daily) and has really struggled with it. She primarily has trouble visually differentiating the lines from each other. Frequently she will play a third higher or lower because she mistakes what line or space she is looking at. The larger the staff is, the better she does.

I've taken her to the eye doctor three times and while she is slightly nearsighted (about 20/30 on her worst test), they say it is just developmental. I should mention she did have some trouble with reading words as well, and needed to use an index card to keep her place if the font was small. We resolved this by putting everything on large print on the Kindle for awhile, and now she is able to read smaller print, though she still prefers the large fonts.

Since she does Suzuki and fiddle, it hasn't been much of a problem since she just memorizes everything. But she is starting orchestra this year, and I realized that she is just memorizing her seating audition music. She doesn't really track it as she plays. She may get away with this for a little while, but not as the music gets more difficult.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Replies (5)

August 23, 2018, 10:04 PM · She is 9. If the doctor says it's development, so it is. Reading (words) along lines and in small font is a gradual process for children and among kids these developments come at different speeds. +/- 6 months up to 1 year of difference.
So she is not stuck in that issue and she will eventually get there. Keep practicing the sight reading as usual. No more, no less.
August 24, 2018, 6:23 AM · Does she do well academically? If it's not vision that's causing the problem, and she gets lost on the page reading both words and music, it could be some cognitive problem like dyslexia. If she has problems in other tasks, or if you a teacher suggests that she's having a problem, it might be worth getting evaluated.
August 24, 2018, 12:41 PM · Thank you so much for the advice. Academically she is fine -- she is in a gifted school reading far above grade level. In fact, that has been kind of the issue. She was trying to read Harry Potter at age 6 and the print was way too small for a 6yo.

Carlos, you are probably right about just giving it time. I am coming from a place where I personally have significant vision issues (congenital cataracts that were not properly diagnosed until my 20s) that caused me to lose most usable sight in one eye. So I am a little overcautious, most likely!

August 24, 2018, 2:35 PM · A few observations:

- Optics: Astigmatism can blur staff lines without blurring note stems; nearsightedness will blur both.
- Eye movements: The eyes seem to scan text in a "2 steps forward & 1 step back" motion; in music we add constant vertical movements.
- Cognitive issues? As a baby I had lazy eye convergence; I still have a slight tendency to invert letters, numbers, and even notated rhythmic groups.

August 24, 2018, 2:56 PM · It's probably just a matter of having a good ear and not needing to know it, so it's not been developed. There are some super cute aps for iPhones that help with note names- one had a lady bug and squirrels- that is my students' favorite. A few minutes a day on those while in the car might help. Essentials for Strings or All for Strings start really with large staffs and gradually get smaller. 5 minutes a day of that could help.

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