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.

Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press

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