Resistance to reading music is age based.
The younger you are, the more trouble you will have learning to read music.
This causes kids a lot of stress.
There are obvious exceptions, but for the average child reading music is very difficult at first since it requires the use of numerous abstract mental skills that the child may only be acquiring, or may not even have started acquiring yet.
Reading music requires coordination of the brain hemispheres that younger kids may not have yet developed.
In other words, asking some kids to read music is a physical impossibility, no matter what method you use. Their brains aren’t ready.
In looking at kids in general, one notices that a child of ten may grasp the rudiments of reading music at the piano in only a few minutes, whereas a child of five may take years of careful preparation to become comfortable reading the notes.
This brings up the question, “Why even bother to teach the younger kids to read music? Why not just wait until they are older?”
In a way the questioner above is correct. In many ways, teaching younger children to read music is very difficult. And using reading music as the only activity in which music may be made within the lesson is a recipe for frustration and boredom.
The answer is that the younger the child, the smaller the part of the lesson that deals with reading music should be. I think a proportion of four parts fun to one part reading music is suitable, and you may dilute more if necessary. A proportion of four to one seems right, and you may find kids who like to read music, in which case increase the reading portion a little.
With the youngest children, you’ll find that the “reading music” portion of the lesson becomes, initially, a remedial course in which concepts such as left/right, up/down and other basic abstract ideas are explored and solidified.
The reason for this is that you are courting total disaster teaching reading music to a child who is unsure of left/right, and up/down. You need to teach the “precursor skills” in the abstract before you add reading music.
And remember that at the piano, up is to the right, and down is to the left. It may seem a small task to you, but to five year old it is often overwhelming, and this is before you have added the complexities of sheet music into the mix.
Of course, to a ten year old, these concepts are not difficult, but there are other immediate hurdles that present themselves at every level of learning the piano.
The point is to not put the impossible hurdles right at the beginning of piano lessons, especially with younger kids.
Any child who has difficulty with reading music has not been properly prepared with abstract musical fun and piano games.
Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press
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