The Battle To Read Music

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The battle to read music is largely one of speed. If you go at a glacial pace, it is no battle, and the child wins because they have time to sort it out.

If you want musical Blitzkrieg, the child will assuredly be defeated. Speed does not work. There are too many complex ideas to be absorbed by a child’s mind.

Yet the conventional piano teacher lives on that speed, getting through “the book” (Faber, Bastien, Alfred) and onto another, so the student can be called “accomplished.” After book 1 comes book 2. It’s very exciting.

A page a lesson, that’s the rule, and if your child goes slower, they’re a dunce.

A page a lesson is an absurd expectation. I expect a grain of sand and am often pleasantly surprised.

I don’t measure by pages. I measure by skills. You either have the skill or you don’t. I’ll devote 20 lessons to an essential skill if necessary, no guilt, no shame, no comparisons to other kids. No speed, just patience.

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Some kids never really learn to read music, or only learn the right hand (“treble clef”.) It takes tremendous persistence on the part of both teacher and student.

Other kids, once introduced to reading music, only want to do that, and build up tremendous skill at it lesson after lesson, the pedant’s dream.

But these kids were allowed to delay reading music until they thought themselves ready. No one force fed them Bastien. They took up reading music when they felt confident. You have to “listen” to them.

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Children’s struggle to read music is largely age-based. Concepts that are impossible at 5 are easy at 9.

But from my experience, it is better to slowly introduce the elements of reading music slowly, as soon as possible, on a very reduced diet.

THE CONVENTIONAL TOOLS

Below are the tools kids receive to start reading music in conventional piano lessons:

Five lines above, keyboard below
Five lines above, keyboard below

They get five horizontal lines (most kids are not sure how many lines there are) and a piano keyboard below it. Two completely different graphic systems in different planes and dimensions, and we expect the kids to jump in and play.

Here’s our solution: stickers to tell kids where the five horizontal lines are on the keyboard:

Five lines related to piano keys
Five lines related to piano keys

By giving kids a visual reference point, we reduce confusion greatly. A “note” can only be on a line or a space. Make the child into a detective: is the note on a line or space?

All of this is exhausting for a child, all these decisions and observations.

Break it up with a little fun, like the FOURS PIANO GAME or some familiar songs.

Abstractions are exhausting for kids, music is not.

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Stickers for Reading Music

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I devised stickers for reading music because I was tired of seeing kids guessing where the notes were. I wanted a system based on exactly what they could see, not a group of unseen and unstated rules.

The old method involves two bits of memorization:

  • The child memorizes the names of the notes as they appear on the page.
  • The child then memorizes the name of each key on the piano, and correlates the two, the name of the note, and the name of the key.

This is all well and good, but kids are not always good at memorization. And if they can’t remember the names of the notes, they have great difficulty remembering the names of the keys.

Thus what is needed is a system based solely on what the child can see on the page and on the keys.

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On the keys, we place six stickers, five blue and one red:

I Can Read Music Stickers
The five blue stickers are the five lines of the musical staff

The five blue stickers denote the location of the five lines of the staff (see below.) The red sticker shows the location of Middle C.

Five lines related to the piano keys

By giving kids a reference point (the stickers) we allow them to develop visual habits and associations more quickly.

The first habit to instill is the ability to find Middle C. It is the center of the reading music universe.

Middle C

This is Middle C (denoted by the RED sticker) and is the first note that kids learn at the piano.

Look through some pages of music in, for example, a book such as I CAN READ MUSIC, and help the child identify the graphic symbol for the note Middle C (the symbol directly above this, the circle with the little line through it.) Look below for a page with lots of Middle C’s to find:

Page with lots of Middle Cs.
Find the Middle C’s on this page

Make a game of it, saying “Who can point to Middle C on the page first?” and then let them win every time after a few tries. Go through page after page, making a game of finding Middle C on the page.

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Every piano method is the same: they concentrate on the first five notes above Middle C. This requires a little exploration by kids.

Ask them questions about the staff (the five lines) constantly:

Notes on lines and spaces

  • Ask them how many lines are there?
  • Ask them how many spaces are there?
  • Ask them to point to a space.
  • Ask them to point to a line.

They haven’t even tried yet to learn the names of the notes. They are occupied enough with the task of building visual habits, of really looking at the page.

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What Comes After Numbers?

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What comes after numbers? To be musically literate, you have to read music. But reading music is the largest single stumbling block to almost everyone attempting to play the piano. Especially kids.

We use numbers to get the child used to the piano keyboard. After that, we discard it for reading music.

How long will this transition take? Every child is different. Six months, a year, two years, never.

But that’s not the point. The point is to have given your child the benefit of the experience of playing the piano without the burden of reading music.

The fact that a particular child can’t read music but enjoys the piano through numbers is not an indictment of the Piano By Number method. Every child is different, every child deserves to play piano, no matter how humbly.

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But let’s look at specific steps in the transition from numbers to notes.

  • Remove the even numbered stickers from the keys. This leaves the odd numbered stickers, which have the same as the location of the five lines of the staff.

Numbered keyboard

Five lines related to the piano keys.

  • Increase the ratio of reading to numbers. Find what the child can stand. You may have to take a few weeks vacation from reading music, from time to time. It is very intense and you don’t want to lose the patient.
  • Make reading music as interesting as possible, and abandon numbers and see what happens. Some kids are ready for “the launch” and others are not. If not ready, keep numbers but make it more complex, more demanding.
  • You may have to continue mixing numbers and notes while the student is gaining skill at notes. I use numbers for complex songs that will interest them while I relentlessly pound away at reading music skills. It takes months. Bait and switch, bait and switch, reading and numbers, reading and numbers.

Be careful what music they play. The higher the proportion of reading music, the lower the level of song they can play (twelve year olds do not play Hot Cross Buns.) Fall back to numbers at the slightest sign of resistance, but keep a small proprtion of the lesson for reading.

As the child’s skill at reading grows, the more they will want to do it.

Keep finding music for which the child has an appetite, numbers or notes. The more advanced they get, the more complex the music they will demand, or by which they will be interested.

Don’t forget that numbers allowed them to get as far as they have, and allow kids to revert to numbers, especially the younger kids.

Forcing reading music on them is the quickest way to failure.

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Start With Numbers, Then Read Music

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Start with numbers, then read music.

If you really want your child to play the piano, you need to find some way of making the beginning enjoyable. If the child is immediately challenged by too much, they may just decide the piano is not for them.

The time honored method is to immediately have the child attempt to read music. This method has a 90% failure rate.

That’s right, 90% of the kids going to that hypothetical piano teacher down the block will quit, many within a month or two.

This is really a very foolish system: teachers lose students, and kids get turned off to piano.

I used to teach this way, and I knew there had to be a better way. I wanted kids to feel the same enthusiasm I felt when I was their age. (The difference is that I was a prodigy who could read music instantly, and consequently had a diet of interesting music.)

I hit upon the idea of numbers instead of notes. I wrote out a page, I think it was Star Wars, and showed it to a little kid who went crazy because he could play Star Wars, his favorite song.

We soon found another dozen songs he could easily play and enjoy, with never a reference to musical notation.

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Think about how a child’s mind works. Before your child could read, you read to them. Then you taught them their letters, then they learned words.

The point is you didn’t put Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES in front of them and say, “Start reading, kid.”

Numbers in music performs the same function as games like THIS LITTLE PIGGY, reciting the alphabet with your toddler, counting as high as they can go: it prepares kids for more complex activities by bringing things down to their level.

In piano lessons, this logical nurturing step is totally forgotten, and even derided as “too soft.”

Remember your child’s face when they had just learned the alphabet, and you showed them a page of words, and they were confused? They understood letters, not words, not sentences, not syntax.

Piano lessons make that same mistake: too much, too soon.

When your child asked for a bedtime story, did you toss them a book and say, “Read it yourself?”

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Think of how you nurtured your child into reading. You read them books when they didn’t know what a letter was, just to get them excited about stories.

Then you taught them letters and numbers. Then you taught them how to put the letters together into words, then the words together into a sentence. It was a long time before your child could read more than “Jack sees the cat.”

The point is, reading was regarded as a long process, and the child was allowed time to absorb each step of the path to reading by themselves.

They were allowed to take baby steps toward reading.

It’s only logical to do the same with the piano.

Copyright 2012 Walden Pond Press

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Helping Children Read Music

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If helping your child read music and enjoy the piano is the goal, think carefully about the piano book you start with, and choosing the right piano teacher.

Do you remember your childhood piano lessons, with all those uninteresting exercises?

Exercises comprise the entire curriculum of famous book methods, such as Bastien, John Thompson, Alfred, and all the others.

Go look in your piano bench where you keep all the piano books from your childhood.

We use all these books, but only after we have sparked a child’s enthusiasm by getting them to play songs that are familiar to them, right away, from the first second of their first lesson.

The only real use I have for these old texts is to teach kids how to sight read. The music is so boring that it is laughable to both of us. But we keep reading, a little bit at a time.

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We use the Piano By Number format before we ever attempt to introduce children to the daunting complexities of reading sheet music. Piano lessons have to get off to a fun, quick start, or half the battle is already lost.

The truth is that Piano By Number seeks only one thing: to get your children started playing piano, to get started being happy playing music, to get started being happy understanding music, rather than being mystified and frustrated by sheet music in their first piano lessons

WHAT OUR SUPPORTERS SAY

The vast majority of our supporters are parents who have actually tried our method.

They are wildly enthusiastic, because Piano By Number yields immediate results. Their lucky children love the piano, want to play music, and once they have started Piano By Number, are ready to brave the difficulties of learning how to read sheet music. Starting Piano By Number assures a higher success rate with piano lessons later.

And these children succeed, unlike the unlucky children who have to start out with a method that uses only sheet music in their piano lessons

We don’t want to eliminate sheet music. We just want children to get started playing piano with enthusiasm, and then begin the long process of becoming musically literate, using sheet music.

Piano By Number

A BETTER WAY TO INTRODUCE CHILDREN TO THE PIANO

There has to be a better way to introduce children to the piano than the conventional methods used in piano lessons.

By the industry’s own statistics, conventional piano teaching has a failure rate of almost 90%!

Do you know any method for anything that has a 90% failure rate and still calls itself a success?

And there is a better way to start children at the piano: get your child started right away with a simple method that yields immediate results, and builds immediate enthusiasm.

Piano By Number is temporary method, a starting platform that establishes a positive relationship between the child and the grandest of all instruments.

CONVENTIONAL METHODS

Conventional piano methods make most children resentful, frustrated and turned off to the instrument, for one simple reason: conventional methods do not let children make music right away. Instead, piano lessons done in the conventional manner take on the character of a dull lecture, poisoning the atmosphere for learning.

Conventional methods frustrate children, and make them feel like failures because the methods utilize only sheet music. That’s all the piano lessons are: reading music.

Put most simply, conventional piano methods ignore the psychology of children.,

IT’S LIKE ALGEBRA

Conventional piano methods are like teaching first graders algebra!

Of course children hate it! It is incomprehensible!

Children need to start with 2 plus 2 equals 4, and then move slowly towards the complexities of sheet music and algebra.

Piano By Number is exactly like 2 plus 2 equals 4: it is baby simple, and children understand it from the first second they see it. Later, they move on to more complex languages.

WHY PIANO BY NUMBER IS LIKE PHONICS FOR READING

Piano By Number is much like phonics for reading.

Let’s look at the history of phonics.

Before there was phonics for reading, which came into popularity in the 50’s and 60’s, there was a reading method called SCOTT FORESMAN, a system in which children were required to memorize the shape of letters, rather than the sound.

SCOTT FORESMAN was most famous for the fact that a majority of children were failing to learn to read using this absurd system, which all the schools in America used.

Then a few pioneers, parents and educators, including my parents, developed phonics, a logical system in which children were taught that each letter had a sound, and suddenly children understood how to read, because the system was logical, simple and allowed them to get started without failure.

Piano By Number is exactly the same as phonics.

How can you argue with a method that children universally embrace with unlimited enthusiasm? How can you argue with a method that breeds an immediate passion for a musical instrument?

The conventional method of reading English, SCOTT FORESMAN, demanded that children decipher visual symbols (letters) much like conventional piano methods that demand that children immediately start deciphering the symbols (notes) of sheet music.

Phonics is a way of demystifying those symbols (letters) establishing the logic behind the symbols, in exactly the same way that piano by number demystifies the piano, and allows the child to see the logic of the piano by using numbers at first, instead of starting out with the incomprehensible symbolism of sheet music.

It’s very easy to get a child to understand the symbols of sheet music when they have already established a positive relationship with the instrument, immediately upon first sitting at it.

WHY IS PIANO BY NUMBER A SUCCESS FOR CHILDREN?

How does Piano By Number yield such amazing results? How does it make children enthusiastic about piano lessons when conventional methods make them frustrated?

The answer is that children understand numbers before they ever sit in front of a piano.

Numbers are a language that any child already understands. A kindergarten child understands counting, and already embraces it as a learning process that brings them success and praise from adults.

All that Piano By Number does is to temporarily substitute numbers for the difficult symbols of sheet music, at first, so that the child is allowed to play numerous familiar songs right away, demystifying the piano and making it a friend instead of an enemy.

Later, when the child feels comfortable with the geography of the piano, we reintroduce the symbols of sheet music, showing the child that there are different ways of telling them to play each piano key.

Children taught Piano By Number already know how to play each key as a number, so they readily understand the “new” language of sheet music when they are comfortable with the instrument.

PSYCHOLOGY

The problem with sheet music methods is that they do not take into account the psychology of children: if you make a child feel like a failure at something, they are not going to be willing to keep trying to learn it. Piano lessons are no different.

Piano By Number allows children to succeed right away, to build enthusiasm and confidence, before they are beset with the difficulties of sheet music.

It makes children feel like winners, right away, most importantly, because it allows them to make music right away.

A child who can play even a simple familiar song with one finger at the piano is a far better candidate for subsequent piano study than one who has been made to feel a failure by a teacher unwilling to bend even a little to the psychology of children.

Children want to make music, and we should let them, before we demand that they study sheet music.

Children say “goo goo,” before “mama,” crawl before they walk, talk before they read.

Let them play music before they read music. Let them add 2 plus 2 before they attempt algebra.

PIANO BY NUMBER IS A VALUABLE EDUCATIONAL TOOL

It is as valuable an educational tool as phonics is for reading, and someday, all children will start out studying piano by number, and then move on to the conventional study of sheet music in their piano lessons.

Conventional piano teachers deny children this tool, entirely out of ignorance, and the result is a 90% failure rate for conventional piano methods.

If the method fails, the method is wrong.

Piano By Number has, in my daily experience, and the daily experience of the countless parents and teachers who have tried it, a higher than 90% success rate.

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?

You have nothing to lose if you try piano by number, except perhaps the awful experience of your child saying to you, “I hate piano lessons. I want to quit.”

Give your children the gift of proper preparation for conventional piano lessons. Give them Piano By Number.

Let your children establish a positive relationship to this grandest of musical instruments at home, with you, before you go out and try piano lessons using the conventional methods.

If you do, you have a far greater chance of success at starting conventional piano lessons. In fact, you have a 90% chance of success with those conventional methods.

The benefits to you and your children are enormous, and life-long.

Copyright 2012 Walden Pond Press

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From Numbers to Notes

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Many parents want to know, “How long does it take for my child to start reading music, if they start with numbers?”

The answer is that the transition time varies from child to child, and the biggest factor is age.

Younger kids take longer, sometimes months, sometimes years. I’ve seen older kids get the idea of reading music in half an hour, because their brains are more developed.

Part of the point is to introduce various skills without reference to reading music. Fingering, chords, hand position, playing both hands can all be taught before you start reading music, leading to a much stronger candidate to brave the rapids of notation.

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One of the keys to learning piano is longevity: the lessons have to go on long enough (months/years) for the child to develop the huge set of skills required.

Kids who start piano with only reading music have, statistically, a very small chance of lessons lasting more than a few months.

Kids who start with Piano By Number have the option of starting reading music when they feel comfortable, leading to a much longer, more fruitful experience with the piano.

Numbers are still useful, even during the transition to notes. Note reading is exhausting for kids, and a reasonable proportion of notes to numbers is 8 parts numbers, 2 parts reading music.

Thus you can use numbers as relief from the intellectual exhaustion of reading music.

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Another disadvantage of reading notes is the quality of music the child will be allowed to play. Students only reading music are restricted to music which they can read, and this is necessarily simple, even infantile.

No child is interested in these exercise pieces, yet they are constructed so simply to make it easy for the child. But they are not real music, and kids find them boring.

Because the music in notes is so boring, numbers becomes, again, a foil for the notes, allowing the child to play interesting and complex music by number when they are tired of reading music.

You will find that there is a constant switching off between numbers and notes, based on the exhaustion of the child.

As time goes on, kids will abandon numbers when they have enough skill to read music. But many still use both, and in addition are taught visually, where the teacher simply shows a more advanced student the keys to play.

There are several “rules” that apply to learning to read music:

Go slowly. Bait and switch (switch from numbers to notes.) Make the reading sessions short, always followed by games.

While reading music is the goal of all piano lessons, it is a pointless victory if it destroys the child’s interest in the piano.

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Why Kids Resist Reading Music

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Most kids resist reading music like a trip to the dentist. And the younger they are, the more they resist.

Another area of resistance, playing with both hands, is entirely related and caused by the same factor, brain hemisphere coordination.

As background, the left brain controls the right hand, and the right brain controls the left hand. There is a “connecting highway” of neurons between the two sides called the corpus callosum, and the younger the child, the more tenuos and even non-existent this crucial connection can be.

Let’s start with reading music. It requires so many dimensions (up/down, left/right, white/ black, slow/fast,etc.,) that a child of six is usually completely confused by your requests to use all the dimensions at one time. They are totally overloaded.

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So with some kids, not just the youngest, you are asking for the near-impossible when you ask them to read music. Their brains are not developed to the point where they can handle this much information, bouncing from one hemisphere to the other.

Older kids, and some younger ones, grasp the complexities of notation right away. Their brains and the connections are much more developed. Try teaching reading music to an adult and you will have much more success since their brains have finished developing.

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So experience tells us that kids respond to reading music when they are allowed to decide when enough is enough (when their eyes roll back in their head.) It’s a question of dosage.

The average piano teacher has a dosage of 100% reading music. I prefer 20% until kids show they can take more.

I also examine kids to seee if they have the “precursor” skills needed to read music. For example, without the firm, instantaneous ability to distinguish left from right, and up from down, reading music fluently will be all but impossible.

And for the youngest, even this is confusing, for, at the piano, “up” is to your right, and “down” is to your left. Try that on a five year old.

Lower the bar, the younger the child. Show them easy victory and build from there.

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How To Help Your Kids Read Music

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There is one great difficulty kids have with the piano that is rarely discussed. This is the need to look constantly from the page to the keys.

Many teachers do not permit this looking from one place to another: the eyes are on the page, no matter what. Do not look at your hands.

The only way this can be accomplished is to use fingering in a rigid way (so there is no need to look at the hand.) The additional problem created is that the music capable of being played in this way, (looking only at the page) is laughably bad. Kids hate this fake “music.”

The real problem is that teachers are confusing “sight reading” with “reading music.” Sight reading is playing music you have never seen before.

Sight reading does in fact require the pianist to look constantly at the page, since it is music they have never seen before. Only a quick peek at the hands to reassure themselves in tricky spots may be necessary.

But kids should not be expected to “sight read.” It is a skill best left for later, and is usually a skill refined by highly skilled musicians, rarely kids.

Far better to let kids look at the keys as they are learning to read music.

Below is what kids are shown when they start to read music:

Five lines above, keyboard below
Five lines above, keyboard below

There are two different graphic systems here, the five lines, and the keyboard below. Kids are mystified: there is no relationship or readily-apparent similarity between the two systems.

A BETTER SYSTEM

It would be far better to give kids reference points on the keys that help to show the correspondence between the page and the keys.

A musical staff referenced to a piano keyboard using removable stickers.
Relating the lines to the keys

We place five blue stickers to denote the five lines.

We place one red sticker to denote the location of Middle C.

FINDING MIDDLE C SHOULD BE FIRST

To make the process as clear as possible, restrict yourself to finding Middle C at first, both on the page and on the keys.

Middle C has a unique look, with two little lines sticking out from the sides of the circular note. No other note in beginning piano looks like Middle C.

Middle C

Here’s a page full of Middle Cs. Get the child to show you all the Middle Cs.

Page with lots of Middle C's to find.

Doodley Doodley Game

I make a silly game of finding Middle C called “Doodley Doodley” in which I say “Doodley, doodley” repeatedly and quietly as I scan my finger across the page slowly under each note. When the child sees a Middle C (the circle with the line through it) they get to ring a library bell, we both laugh, and then we continue, “Doodley, doodley…..”

Lines and Spaces Game

Take any piece of sheet music, point slowly to each note, asking, “Line or space?” There are only two positions for notes on the five-lined staff: on a line, or on a space in between the lines.

I make a game of having a pop quiz often, wherein I show the child a page of music and demand that they tell me if each note pointed to is on a line or a space. Kids are not used to using their eyes in this critical fashion: this is where they learn how.

I avoid asking for the names of the notes, as I leave that separate process to chord study: the rationale is that if a child can find a C chord, they know where C is.

Another skill entirely is finding notes by name anywhere on the keyboard. So I play a game where I point out that C is to left of the two blacks, “Play every C on the piano.” Now they have to use their eyes to find every group of two blacks, and then the white key to the left.

Naming notes by themselves I find useless, at least at first. It is far more important to let the child have facility with the symbols on the page, and their correspondence to the keys. Naming notes comes slowly as they gain control of all the other elements.

START WITH NUMBERS

Kids have a better chance of sticking with the piano if they are allowed to have careful, directed fun at first, using a transparent system like numbers rather than diving into reading boring music in the form of musical notes.

Only when the child is comfortable with the geography of the keyboard should they be introduced slowly to reading music.

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Don’t Start With Reading Music

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It’s very important that you choose the piano method carefully for your child. This is usually done by the teacher, but you should be aware of what is being taught.

Some teachers use only the conventional method, restricted to reading music. Some don’t teach notes at all, but use colored stickers or animal stickers, or teach the names of the notes.

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Piano by Number was devised because the methods mentioned above are either irrelevant to oncoming music theory (animals, colors) or present too much difficulty in the beginning (notes,letters.)

Numbers, on the other hand, are instinctive, even with the youngest kids, and are entirely germaine to the study of music, and are in fact an integral part of music construction.

Unless a child has the experience, on their first lesson, of making music which brings them joy, you have not really made a start at anything at all.

The only system we found that can do all the above is numbers, derived from the ancient classical music “intervals.”

So why not start with reading music?

The problem is that reading notes is a very confusing system for children.

Yes, for trained adults, musical notation is a perfect system, devised and refined over hundreds of years, capable of showing everything about a musical piece. But this very exactness makes it extraordinarily complex, even for avid adults.

You’re not crazy enough to expect your three year old to solve algebraic equations. Why would you expect a six year old to easily decipher a complex graphic language created hundreds of years ago?

Five lines above, keyboard below
Five lines above, keyboard below

Above you’ll see the tools given your child to start the piano: a system of five horizontal lines on top, and a bewildering piano keyboard on the bottom. Confused yet? Your six year old is.

And then the child is asked to relate circles which will be placed on the five lines (on top) and the spaces in between the five lines, and then be asked to find the location of any particular circle on the five lined “staff, and then find the corresponding key on the keyboard below, a totally different graphic system.

It is an insane way to begin piano for a child.

“It worked in 1835, so if your kid doesn’t understand, they are either lazy and/or stupid.” That’s what piano teachers think.

Kids brains just shut down when asked to solve questions like these without proper preparation.

A piano method based on only reading music assumes your child has the following skills, regardless of age:

1.  You must understand the difference between left and right, hands, direction. The concept must be second nature to you or you cannot navigate even the simplest sheet music.

2. You must have the intellectual acumen to be able to order numerous events and symbols, sometimes in a row, and sometimes simultaneously. Most kids can handle one event at a time, if that.

3. You must be able to memorize dozens of symbols, none of which you have ever seen before. Once again, your facility with them must be second nature, instantaneous, or you won’t be able to read music.

4. Don’t forget fingering. Every note must be played with the proper finger. If you play the correct note, but with the wrong finger, it is an error, and must be corrected then and there. And you must memorize the finger numbers 1-5, an entirely separate enterprise.

5. In addition, you’ll need to be able to name the key (or note) you are playing. Conventional methods are obsessed with the names of the notes. You must know every name at every time. And don’t forget the musical alphabet, which curiously starts on C and goes up to G where it inexplicably (to a child) starts over again at A.

6. And did I mention rhythm? You have to do all thess things at exactly the right moment, with never a slip and never a stumble or it is an error and must be corrected immediately.

Kids are terrified when expected to juggle all these unfamiliar dimensions, especially with a demanding and gruff teacher.

Kids are overwhelmed by this. All they wanted to do is play a fun song.

In contrast, our method, Piano By Number, allows for all of the above but starts kids instead at a lower point, in essence lowing the bar so they can taste success at first rather than utter failure.

PIANO BY NUMBER

numbered keyboard

Our method places numbered stickers on the keys and allows the child to play fun, familiar songs with any finger they choose.

We avoid reading music until the child has comfortably acquired several skills: naming notes, fingering, chords, and playing with both hands. All of these are easily accomplished without the use of reading music.

A child who has learned these four skills is a far better candidate for piano lessons than a child who is simply “thrown into the water” to begin reading music.

Copyright 2017 by Walden Pond Press

REFERENCES

You Say Read, I Say Play

Teaching Preschool Piano Visually

Late Bloomers in Childhood Piano

Pitfalls of Personality in Kid’s Piano

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