Book/Activity Suggestions for Teaching Young Violin Student struggling to read music
I am looking for advice and suggestions for teaching one of my younger students to read music, but also to successfully associate the music notes she reads with her violin. Currently she uses A1, A2, A3, E1, E2 etc. to refer to notes. I am a big advocate of learning to read music early and calling the notes by their note names from an early age instead of using finger numbers. It makes for much less confusion when you begin shifting and playing in new keys with High 2's or Low 1s etc.
With that said, with this particular student it has been quite a struggle to create the association of letter names with fingers and then also to read music notes.
We have tried flash cards, a "hand chart", playing and singing - but it hasn't seemed to click for her. I am thinking that a tangible study book that she can write and draw in and complete activities might help, but can't narrow it down! Any good activity books for treble clef only?!
*Another aspect that is making this difficult is that this student takes virtual lessons with me. Although her mother is helpful and attentive during the lessons - even if I send sheet music as pdf for her to practice, they don't have easy access to printer so often the mother writes it out as finger names (A1, A2, A3 etc) so she practices "reading" her songs this way.
Thanks in advance for any help :) Kirsten Williams, Oxford, UK
I would suggest the early Avsharian books. My daughter struggled with note reading, primarily due to vision issues, and she not only learned a lot from these books, but also loved them! I think we started with ABC Notespeller 1 and 2. Fun with Notes has stickers. Once she finished those, we did the Songs for Little Players series (3 books), which is more notation or sight reading oriented.
I love the "I Can Read Music" books by Joanne Martin, as they add new note incrementally and focus on patterns that involve only the known notes. Another favorite of my students is the "Blue book of Violin Tunes, alpha notation" by Bonnie Greene (http://www.oneworldstrings.com/violin.php) as it has the names of the notes INSIDE the notation and is much more musical than the ICRM books. I usually work them side by side so that students can start recognizing the notes with and without the note names, especially if we're working on referring to the names and not the finger numbers.
How old is "young"? Sometimes it just works out as they gain more life and learning experience.
I still think the music school I got lessons from as a kid had it right: They demanded that kids take a year of "solfège" before starting on an instrument. It was not scary: Just the names of the notes, their values and their position in the staff; the organization of the piano keyboard; major and minor scales; major and minor keys; intervals; rhythmic reading of music (we were reading the note names out loud--do, re, mi--in rhythm while beating the measure with our hand) plus a little ear training.
How young? Age perforce limits what you can explain. (I developed an appreciation of the things that Suzuki teachers of tots cope with when I realized that without a concept of fractions, an instruction like "use half the bow" doesn't make sense. I had to teach my son basic fractions so we could talk about bow usage without needing to use a zillion pieces of colored tape on the bow.)
When I was growing up we always had a piano in the house. I can recall sometimes taking my violin music to the piano to work out how it was supposed to sound. I suggest that having a keyboard to help a young student visualize relationships between pitch and placement on the staff. I do not recall having a problem learning to read music - I was still 4 when my violin lessons began.
It is going to be very tough dealing with younger pupils using video lessons - my sister is a primary school teacher and had real problems until they could return. And the technology doesn't allow a teacher to play along with the student.
Pattern Play consists of a parent/teacher book and two student books (contents of which are reproduced in the parent/teacher book at reduced scale but young eyes need bigger print). I don't use the teaching book directly myself, instead simply using similar activities in my own way, but the visuals and processes have been very helpful for both musician and non-musician parents. For an older student (8? 9?) I would have them skip it because they would absorb the concepts through exposure in group classes.