Level 5 Using the Music Book
Francine V., Australia
I have been keeping students’ music books for each level so they don’t ‘read’ their music, as suggested. Now I am teaching level 5 to people who can read. In the TTM for level 5 it suggests to show the student the music book to help see where the LH falls. Does this mean the student should be encouraged to have the music open at home? This will, of course, tempt the student to read the notes. We are only half way through reading rhythm and not yet up to reading notes.
Robin Keehn, Washington
I don’t allow the music books to be used at home until we complete Reading Rhythm and Reading Notes. They will be tempted to change the process and read. They will stop working on developing those playing-based skills that will be such an important part of how they eventually see music when they are reading.
I do get the music out in class but my purpose is often is to use the written music as a rhythm diagram or melody diagram. I never use it for reading until we’ve completed the process.
Ian M., Indiana
Francine, my experience with students in level 5 is that they’re not tempted to read the notes, because learning the pieces using the playing based strategies is so much easier, and they are used to doing it that way. What we do start to do in level 5 is give a little attention to what’s on the page that we can easily connect with. “The LH – here – falls with this note one ‘eyes’ in the RH – here.” And there’s more and more that becomes easily apparent.
With one of my most advanced students, in level 7 (12 years old), we were just working on Church Song today. This student already reads music somewhat because she’s played violin since age 5 or something like that, and every once in a while I notice her looking up at the music after I’ve referred to something with the rhythm and forgotten to close it again. I know she’s trying to puzzle out the notes, and we *have* started Reading Notes, but the conversation goes like this:
Me: I see you looking at the notes, but you remember I don’t –
Sydney: – want me to learn it that way at this stage.
Me: Right, because I want you to use –
Sydney: – the playing-based way of learning.
Me: And so if you are trying to remember a single note, it’s okay to look at the music, but if you’re trying to figure out this more involved part in the middle and it’s not working out, you should –
Sydney: Watch the video!
If your students trust you, and trust the method, you should have no problem at all.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Great topic. Teachers have to do what makes sense to them individually. A few things I’ve learned regarding giving students/parents the music book (those who have some reading background):
- They may have a different definition of “using the music book” than you do, i.e. if they didn’t read the entire piece from the music, then it doesn’t count as ‘using’ the music. They can be very good at rationalizing.
- They are in various stages and commitment levels with trusting the process because they can’t see yet where it’s going.
- Sometimes convenience simply wins out (it was quicker to just look it up in the music rather than find it on the video)- consequently the learning process is completely different and more traditional in nature
- In reality, not everyone will do things exactly as you prescribe, even if you tell them that you trust them – see point 2. Many believe that they know better than you what works for them in learning piano, based on their own mindset, life experience, and what has been accepted traditionally. It’s just human nature.
- Some (particularly adults) have the mindset that your ‘rules’ are great for other people, but for them, because they have a poor memory, or (insert other reasons here), it’s not the best route, so there’s no harm in using the music sometimes to help them out. You just ‘don’t understand’ that their brain doesn’t work in that way.
- Case in point on trusting the process – I had an adult student once who had taken notes on arrangements (with another teacher before me). When reviewing an arr. in class, I corrected her on something, and she said “That’s not what I had written in my notes.” We stopped and had a conversation right there in class. I talked about all the reasons for not taking notes. She said “I appreciate your opinion, but that doesn’t work for me.” I talked more about the design of the curriculum and the results it brings, told her it was non-negotiable and asked if she were willing to give it a try. Not surprisingly, she only continued for one more month.
My point is, yes some students will trust you and follow your every direction; however, some are unwilling to give up on their own agendas (either initially, or ever), and others are on the fence about trusting the process – after all, it’s very different from anything else out there. And the fact that you trust them won’t necessarily change that mindset overnight. It takes time.
For me personally, it makes more sense to just remove the temptation by keeping their music in ‘safekeeping’ until we use them in the reading process. In the meantime I have the chance to educate them on a completely different way of thinking and learning, and the time to earn their trust so that they feel comfortable following my instructions even if they don’t fully understand the reasons.
Just another way of looking at it.
Jane H, Australia
Yes we are all individual.
If I have a student come to me and who already reads. I explain the program and how we learn, which fascinates them. Consequently I let them read music, providing they can explain to me how they learnt the songs in SM terms, what patterns they saw as we all see things in different ways.
Some don’ t get it hence trust you completely to learn the process and don’t bother with the music book.
Others get it so there is not a problem, and it opens up there music world. When I discovered patterns and how music was put together etc it was awesome, and still is, every time I pick up a new piece of music.
We still progress through all areas of SM, and after a while reading becomes a minor part as they are busy discovering how to accompany, arrange, and have fun with the piano plus remembering the songs.
Parents that read– No I do not let them show their children how to read as SM is way easier. They rely on the video; however if they still show children how to read I suggest they find a traditional teacher.