Use of numbers in learning songs
Found in: Playing-Based Methodology
Susan M., Canada
I have a parent questioning “numbers” and how we use them as a lyric/support tool. I explained…
-Occasionally we use number for sentences and patterns.
-Occasionally we give numbers for rhythm
-Occasional we use numbers for fingerings/positions
She seems baffled by the various ways they’re used, and I told her to trust me… Any further ideas?
Terah W., Kansas
Well, sometimes for lyrics…like Ode/Lev1–changing LH chord when you say or sing “1” in your 1,2,3,4 counting.
Susan M., Canada
Yes, it’s Ode to Joy where the question came up. Fur Elise was finger numbers and mom is trying to analyze I guess (traditional trained). I ended up using an analogy of dancing, how numbers help students find their moves… like in “5,6,7,8” at the beginning of a dance, hoping that would help her relate to the new way of seeing numbers as a guide.
Jacqui G., Canada
“Fur Elise” is confusing, because it starts off using numbers to count the rhythm (one – and – two – and three)… and then switches to using finger numbers on the notes (two – four – three). I get questioned about that every time. I would think that the counting in “Ode To Joy” would make more sense to her, coming from a traditional background. But “trust me” was a good answer. The method can seem very strange to someone who was trained differently.
Heidi M., Canada
I agree about Fur Elise being confusing. I deal with that by telling my students (immediately, before they have a chance to point it out) that the counting represents two different things – first just counting and the second time for finger numbers to know what to play. When I tell them that immediately they accept it and process it accordingly without confusion.
Rochelle G., California
If I recall correctly, somewhere in the training materials, in reference to the diagrams, Neil mentions that the diagrams aren’t meant to be a new language that we are teaching/learning, but a tool to remind us of the playing based strategies for that piece. So in regard to using numbers, that is the same thing. The numbers are not being used in a systematic way as in a new language, but are sometimes used as tools to help us learn a particular playing based strategy.
Stephen R., California
On Ode, I emphasize the 1’s which is when the LH switches. All of this counting beats, rhythm, fingering is important to do out loud as an external instruction. It helps the brain to internalize what we’re doing.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I’ve had parents/students ask similar questions when they are first starting out – such as “Does an up arrow always mean up 4 notes?” or “Does a number in the diagram always refer to a finger number?”. I think it just stems from an expectation for the diagram to tell them ALL the information they need about how to play the song.
I explain that these diagrams are not complete road maps like written music, and that they are this way by design. It’s a great time to talk about ‘learning a new way of learning’. They will not be able to fit this learning into something they are familiar with.
Just reassure them that it will make sense for each individual song, and if they trust you and trust the process, they will understand more and more as they move through the curriculum.