Does our license allow the use of outside reading materials?
Heather L., Indiana
If the agreement that we (as teachers) signed says we can’t teach other methods in addition to Simply Music, does that mean we can’t use other music books (not Simply Music) to teach the same method? I have a student who is almost ready to start Reading Notes (in her case, it would be more like review, because she’s had lessons previous to this). I found a bunch of really interesting books I’d like to use in teaching Reading Notes. I’m just wondering if that would conflict with the agreement with Simply Music.
Rebecca G., Colorado
It’s important to understand that teaching Reading Notes is an entirely new way of looking at the page. Many of us intentionally delay the reading process even longer with students who have read previously to make sure they’re very comfortable with and invested in play-based learning first, and not just biding time to get back to reading.
Also, when I take former readers into Reading Notes, I ask them to work on letting go of or even “forgetting” the way they have read previously. Intervallic reading using location points is nothing like just memorizing and internalizing notes on the staff, not to mention that most former readers have little to no ability to translate notes in the leger lines. I’d encourage you to make sure you’re clear about all of this yourself before you take a student through Reading Notes so that you can talk about and teach it effectively.
Cheri S., Utah
Other books are totally fine. In the accompaniment training, Neil recommends using lots of outside music to give students plenty of experience with the chords. And of course, once they can read music, you’ll need things for them to read.
Even before note-reading I sometimes teach a written song in a playing-based way. I do this when a student needs a little more time before advancing in a Foundation level, or just a break and a fun song to play.
Heather L., Indiana
So does that mean I wouldn’t even need to teach students any of the Foundation levels? As long as I’ve learned the materials, could I pick and choose which songs I’d like to teach them from different Foundation levels (not necessarily the entire Foundation level) but then incorporate my own music into the mix? For example, instead of requiring the student to purchase Foundation level 1, could I teach maybe one or two songs out of Foundation level 1 then add in my own songs?
Cheri S., Utah
I teach ALL the SM Foundation songs, and ALL the other streams like accompaniment, arrangements, etc. The accompaniment stream includes using outside songs, as does the reading program.
I’m pretty sure our licenses do not allow us to pick and choose what to teach. Simply Music is a carefully scaffolded and integrated program. It only guarantees great results if you follow the program. Every song contains building blocks for future songs, and for a complete, well-rounded music education.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I agree with everything Cheri has shared. Having taught through every level and stream, I know that it is important to teach the curriculum as a whole, not “pieces parts”. The only way to really grasp this curriculum and where it’s going is to teach it. Which means you really do need to trust the process at first. You will be continually opening up new possibilities for your students and yourself by just following the curriculum. Neil spent thousands of hours getting it to where it is, based on what was most successful to students. He knows what he’s doing.
Supplementing (not replacing) now and then with other music is fine. I use fake books after Accompaniment 1, supplement reading with outside sheet music, and teach the occasional song that someone really wants to learn, but in a playing-based fashion if they aren’t yet reading. But that’s alongside all the regular SM curriculum.
What Laurie and Cheri have said is precisely correct. It’s fine to supplement the learning with other materials – such as for accompaniment of reading projects, but the use of other teacher methods woven into the process opens up a completely unworkable can of worms.
Further to this, choosing to pick just a song or two from one level, and then a song or two from another, would absolutely guarantee an unsuccessful outcome, and would completely undermine the integrity of the program. That’s why the License requires your agreement that you’ll teach the program as prescribed.