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.

Copyright 2017 Walden Pond Press

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