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#2689093 - 11/13/17 02:32 AM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: hreichgott]  
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Originally Posted by hreichgott
Ok so there are only 2 notes in the exercise. One must be the higher and one the lower.
Yes, the child will have to learn note names, but some children have an easier time with higher/lower at first. And that’s also an essential concept for musicians.

Maybe I didn't understand. I thought that the purpose was to find C and G specifically. I assumed that it was probably the "guide note" idea, given the notes in question. So your idea is to ease the student into it, and gradually, after having played those two notes on the piano in a more rote manner, the student will associate that C and that G with the notation?

If it's "the higher note", and "the lower note", this still leaves us with the problem that the student could be playing any note that is higher or lower than the other one. How will the student end up playing specifically C and G? I'm not getting the whole picture.

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#2689152 - 11/13/17 11:27 AM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Thank you for all the input on this issue. Gary D and Keystring, you always contribute so much insight. It seems like I have focused on visual methods. Perhaps I'm wrong after reading through everyone's responses, but it seems most suggestions have been visual. Can anyone suggest non-visual approaches? I was never taught any other way than visual, and despite pedagogy classes, teachers were not trained on how to teach students at the college I attended. I use aural methods for rhythm, but not sure how to incorporate that into note reading. What I have found so interesting is that when I put up flashcards on the piano that have no note names, just line and space notes (3 in a staff) students have no problem playing whatever the card displays. It seems that attaching a
name to a note causes mental chaos for some.


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#2689167 - 11/13/17 12:48 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Chasingrainbows, I went through a radical overhaul in my approach to reading piano music. I'm sort of part student, part teacher-in-training, sort of. Btw, when the discussion drifted off to hearing, this was probably a red herring.

I tried various approaches to bring my own reading into order some 9 years ago. The big change in perspective came for me, when I was introduced to the idea that "reading piano music" is an action happening between the piano and the notes. When you drive and you approach a red light, your foot goes to the brakes and you anticipate the car stopping. The light is a symbol, and that symbol is fused to the physical action and the expected effect all in one shot. In the same way, what if piano reading means that when you see the circle with the bottom line going through it, your hand zips to the piano key that we call E --- all as one effect? What if this is what reading piano music is? That was my big paradigm shift, and it was mind blowing.

The way reading is generally taught, we have two separate things. 1) There are the symbols on the page. We learn to give them names; or some of them names and count up; or to recognize intervals. We work with those symbols. That's what you're doing with the magnets, and sheets circling note names etc. "Every Good Boy" does the same. 2) We then go to the piano. We learn things all over again. "D is the note between the two black keys." Then finally we go to a THIRD step which tries to combine these two separate worlds. 3) Ok, this is D on the page. Look at piano. Which key is D on the piano. Two concepts of "D" are brought out under the name "D". It is not simple. It is complicated and convoluted. But most of us have learned along these lines.

I know of a methodology that does the "red light - foot on brakes" kind of fusing. It starts with pointing to the note below the treble clef, finding the key between the two black keys, and giving this combined experience the name "D". There are steps and stages to this particular system, and it requires close cooperation at home by parents and students to make it work. Each teacher has to find what works for him or her according their own setup: your own teaching methods, the types of students you have, how much parents work with them at home etc.

The thought that came to me was for you to explore what reading music means to you! You have told us how you learned, along one methodology. You have written about how "they" do it differently now - possibly meaning the method book you are using. If you really do a search with yourself from all angles, maybe you'll end up using this material differently, changing it and adapting it as you see fit. Maybe you'll see it from a different perspective. I'm going on a hunch. It might be wrong.

#2689168 - 11/13/17 12:52 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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For the non-visual side, I'm thinking tactile more than sound. You have this object called the piano. I can't go further than that.

I just received delivery of my granddaughter's birthday and Christmas present - she will be one. They are megablocks. I just finished playing with them to make sure they fit together. I have the memory of their touch in my hands as I wrote, the ridges and valleys that fit into each other. In an odd way, the highs and lows of the piano keys are superimposed on that sensation. (bemused)

#2689177 - 11/13/17 01:06 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
For being able to tell lines from spaces, I can imagine a child not being able to tell apart the notes on spaces versus the notes on lines. Any child would see what a line itself is. Somebody once pointed out to me how confusing it can be when told that there are notes "on lines" and notes "on spaces". Here are some birds sitting "on" wires. If you look at space notes, they are sitting "on" the lines just like that. Are those birds line notes, or space notes? In actual fact, "line notes" don't sit on lines. They have lines going through them. "space notes" in essence sit on lines if you see them a certain way as "sitting" --- they're the ones that don't have lines going through them. wink

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Something I used to do in Kindermusik was to take 5 black ropes of equal length and lay them down on the floor to create a staff. Then either flipping over cards or pulling papers from a hat and calling out "line" or "space" and the child would jump to a line or a space. Once they get the hang of that you could add another level of complexity by telling them a specific line # or space #. Another variation is to have note head cards that the child could place on a line or a space. The same could be done by drawing in noteheads on a whiteboard staff as well.

I really like the physical aspect of having them be the noteheads, and then transferring that to a more visual way off seeing noteheads on lines and spaces.


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#2689203 - 11/13/17 02:24 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Morodiene, I like your very physical approach with the black ropes. Learning goes from the body to the mind, esp. for young people. I suspect that when older people learn music, they would also do well to revert to this first, if they can.

Since you included my visual, did you catch the point? When one tells a student about notes that are "on a line", they might visualize it like those birds. If you visualize it this way, then a space note appears to be "sitting on the line" (like those birds), creating confusion simply because of the words used. Since this was pointed out to me, I have avoided the word "on".

I taught a youngster with a learning disability in beginning reading (words). What finally worked for difficult words was this. I put the words on cards, and placed those cards on the ground. When I said the word, he jumped to land on the card. There is something about using the body that seems to create connections. Why jumping on a card should cause a word to be learned I don't know - but it worked.

Quote
I really like the physical aspect of having them be the noteheads,...

"Having them by the notehead". ..... I am reminded of Waldorf school created by Rudolf Steiner. For multiplication, the children did the following:
--- 3's. You are an old man with a walking stick. You walk: foot, foot, stick*, foot, foot, stick*.., 1, 2, 3*, 4, 5, 6*, 7, 8, 9*... After experiencing being the old man, the children wrote those numbers with bees wax crayons and gentle pastel colours, emphasizing the 3*, 6*, 9*. These numbers became internalized in body, mind, emotion (Steiner's philosophy). Kids starting in Waldorf tend to do very well when entering mainstream high school. The body and the emotions were not left out of 'intellectual" learning.

Had I had the money, this is where I would have sent my children.

#2689220 - 11/13/17 03:12 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
What I have found so interesting is that when I put up flashcards on the piano that have no note names, just line and space notes (3 in a staff) students have no problem playing whatever the card displays. It seems that attaching a name to a note causes mental chaos for some.

I am not a piano teacher, but I'm interested in ways to break tasks down into smaller chunks, and how to bridge from what someone already knows to what they don't know yet.

keystring and Gary D have described teaching so that students have reading a note automatically connect to playing a key on the keyboard, without the intermediate steps of naming the note on the staff, and then naming the note on the keyboard. In light of this, it seems that your students are doing something excellent: they have an automatic association of note on staff to key on keyboard.

That means you can keep fostering their ability to do that, and think about how to introduce the names of notes as an *additional*, but not *intermediate* thing they know about notes on the keyboard and notes on the staff.

To keep things concretely about the keyboard, you might start with the keyboard: (1) keep having them play from the staff to the keyboard without needing names. Then (2) teach them the names of the notes on the keyboard. (3) After they know that solidly, you can then have them practice playing the three note melody and name the notes *after* playing them. (4) Finally you can work that back to the staff and have them learn to associate a name with the note's position on the staff.

I don't know if it would work better to learn all names at step 2, and then at step 3, and then at step 4, or to learn one or a few names at a time and work through steps 2/3/4, then return to step 2 for a few more names, etc. Perhaps you will find that different of your students respond better to one approach or another.


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#2689252 - 11/13/17 05:06 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Thank you for all the input on this issue. Gary D and Keystring, you always contribute so much insight. It seems like I have focused on visual methods. Perhaps I'm wrong after reading through everyone's responses, but it seems most suggestions have been visual. Can anyone suggest non-visual approaches? I was never taught any other way than visual, and despite pedagogy classes, teachers were not trained on how to teach students at the college I attended. I use aural methods for rhythm, but not sure how to incorporate that into note reading. What I have found so interesting is that when I put up flashcards on the piano that have no note names, just line and space notes (3 in a staff) students have no problem playing whatever the card displays. It seems that attaching a name to a note causes mental chaos for some.

You're still putting up with this student?

Perhaps I didn't make it quite clear: Your student has severe problems. Please tell the parents that they need to seek professional help immediately.


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#2689254 - 11/13/17 05:11 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Maybe I didn't understand. I thought that the purpose was to find C and G specifically. I assumed that it was probably the "guide note" idea, given the notes in question. So your idea is to ease the student into it, and gradually, after having played those two notes on the piano in a more rote manner, the student will associate that C and that G with the notation?

If it's "the higher note", and "the lower note", this still leaves us with the problem that the student could be playing any note that is higher or lower than the other one. How will the student end up playing specifically C and G? I'm not getting the whole picture.

I know exactly where in the Piano Adventures book the OP is talking about. The purpose of this exercise is to get the student to memorize the two guide notes (or landmarks) middle C and treble G. There are only two notes to be learned. This can be done by rote. Most of the time I do this during the lesson and move on in less than 5 minutes. 10 minutes, max.

Any kid who can't get this exercise has some severe learning problems. SEVERE.

You don't need a M.M in Piano Pedagogy to teach this stuff.


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#2689257 - 11/13/17 05:17 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88

To keep things concretely about the keyboard, you might start with the keyboard: (1) keep having them play from the staff to the keyboard without needing names. Then (2) teach them the names of the notes on the keyboard. (3) After they know that solidly, you can then have them practice playing the three note melody and name the notes *after* playing them. (4) Finally you can work that back to the staff and have them learn to associate a name with the note's position on the staff.

It's even easier than you described, though you are 100% on the right track.

I start every student out with a keyboard chart. There are no letters, only pictures of the note on lines.

The very first thing I do is this:

Find line 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and "one below". I don't say a thing about names. This is visual, and it is VERY rare that at least one person in the room does not catch on immediately, usually the oldest person, usually the guardian, but this can flip over the age of 8.

I have a little girl who caught on instantly, and her mother remains clueless. Very intelligent kid, mom most likely has an LD.

But if SOMEONE in the room gets it, there is help at home.

One a student is able to find these 6 locations, I print out a sheet of notes doing the same thing, only lines.

Again, it is very rare that one person in the room does not get this in about 10 minutes. The idea is to match each note on the page with these 6 locations.

Now, if the child is 5, this process may take months, for obvious reasons, but of Mom or Dad gets it, you still have a good chance that it is going to work. I have a 5 year-old right now who appeared to just be too young. I saw instant understanding from the mother, but after nearly a month the boy was still totally guessing. Then last week, suddenly he got more than 1/2 right.

I don't use fingering or hand. "Get it with your nose or toes, I don't care."

Once I have this, I can slip in first space F as "between 1 and 2". Middle D becomes "the hanging note". This works just as fast for adults. It's almost instant.

I never mention a letter.

WHILE I am doing this, I begin asking for Ds, move out to E and C. This is KEYBOARD ONLY.

The moment there is understanding of letters, I each open 5th with the LH, calling out, at random: C 5th, G 5th, D 5th, B 5th. Then move to triads ASAP. For some kind this is almost instant, for other the coordination takes much longer.

This the important part:

These two separate worlds FUSE AUTOMATICALLY.

After a couple months I can flip from line 3 to B. I actually test the strength of the fusion this way.

Using this system I work up and down to 5 leger lines, and 5 leger lines above or below either staff is farther than we usually see music stretching to, single notes, even in very advanced music.

I never refer to spaces. I refer to "not lines". In between lines, or over lines, under lines (for leger spaces).

Later, when people are reading fluently, I start talking about "4th space E in the treble".

I do not refer to the clefs as G and F clefs, since this is not necessary, until such time as a student needs to draw the clefs.


I don't know if it would work better to learn all names at step 2, and then at step 3, and then at step 4, or to learn one or a few names at a time and work through steps 2/3/4, then return to step 2 for a few more names, etc. Perhaps you will find that different of your students respond better to one approach or another.[/quote]

Last edited by Gary D.; 11/13/17 05:18 PM.

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#2689258 - 11/13/17 05:21 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Any kid who can't get this exercise has some severe learning problems.

I disagree. You have described a book. We know nothing about the child at all. We also only have a sketchy idea of how it's been taught, and this may be taught in a much different way than you teach it. If a child was taught by you, in your way, and you got those results, then you can judge things. But when it is a student who is not your student, not taught by you, then imho you cannot make that kind of judgment.

We have just possibly gotten somewhere, and you have come back in with a snap judgment about the student. Learning disabilities are serious things and takes time and care to diagnose. This cannot and should not be done on the Internet, and with such scanty information.

#2689262 - 11/13/17 05:36 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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It looks like Gary and I wrote at the same time. I recommend going back to his post, which is one behind my last one. smile

Btw, I have learned that with things that are simple but important cornerstones, keeping it simple in establishing them is a rare art.

#2689296 - 11/13/17 08:23 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
One of my students took 4 weeks to distinguish between lines and spaces.

What age?

4


Has this child had an eye examination?


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#2689311 - 11/13/17 09:48 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Gary, thank you for the detailed description. It's really interesting to me how those two separate worlds *fuse automatically*.

Last edited by PianoStudent88; 11/13/17 09:49 PM.

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#2689315 - 11/13/17 10:06 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: AZNpiano]  
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AZN, are you serious? I'm not sure if you're kidding - she just started a month ago. I really enjoy this student and am hopeful she'll get it at the next lesson. BTW, I show them how to play C and G before they see the actual score (I teach all concepts before they actually see the music.) It takes a little more than 5 minutes to place magnets in spaces and around lines, draw the 2 notes, play them and then look at the score.

You don't need a M.M. to teach this "stuff" is true, but you do need to think outside the box all the time, b/c every student has different and unique abilities. No degree can prepare you for all of these scenarios.

A funny story - in high school, I took a civil service test and scored #1 in the State. When I was assigned my first position, my employer thought he was getting a highly skilled legal secretary (back in the old days when there were secretaries) who was very knowledgeable in law and understood everything there was to know about the courts, etc. When actually, I was just a young teen who could type 100 words a minute, take shorthand at 120 wpm., excelled in spelling and grammar. There were no legal courses in high school. My point, I did equally well in college, but nothing prepared me for teaching in a music store. Workshops, reading, sharing on forums, reading, talking with colleagues, reading, stumbling, succeeding, are all part of an ongoing education. smile


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#2689353 - 11/14/17 02:43 AM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: AZNpiano]  
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano

Perhaps I didn't make it quite clear: Your student has severe problems. Please tell the parents that they need to seek professional help immediately.

That's out of line. TOTALLY out of line.


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#2689355 - 11/14/17 02:53 AM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: PianoStudent88]  
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
Gary, thank you for the detailed description. It's really interesting to me how those two separate worlds *fuse automatically*.

I'm sorry that I included part of your text at the end. I posted, just saw it now, but it's too late to edit.

Something that is of great interest to me is the relative "holes" people have in their brains. I'm being humorous, of course.

There are things that are so natural for me that I can't imagine it is not the same for everyone. I hear a pitch, I know that that pitch is. I hear a chord, I know the chord. Reading piano music is probably the most simple thing in the world for me.

But there are other simple things that are very difficult for me. I don't know why, but my visual memory is horrible. I can't describe where things are in my own home. I forget the color of the walls. There are pictures on the walls, and I have no idea what they are, or where they are hung.

I still have to look for red lines under wrong spellings, and sometimes I can't fix wrong spellings even after 5 tries and have to Google the words.

If I have a problem with an electronic hookup, like for stereos or TVs, if something is in the wrong place I have to unplug every wire and start from scratch. When wires are crossed or tangled, I can't untangle them in my mind.

My students have all sorts of weird holes, just like I do, but they are in different areas, and dealing with these holes is important. I have a girl who is dyslexic, and I didn't catch it. For at least two years she reversed 5 and 1, fingers, 2 and 4, so not only did she call out wrong fingering when I had her say the fingering, she also reversed those finger number from the page.

I would now say that 90% of the problems I CAUSED by one simple omission: I did not make her say the finger number of each note, either hand, in the very beginning. I now do that with all beginners.

There must be 1000 things like that which are holes for other people, not for me, that I am careful to plug or use a work-around for.


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#2689471 - 11/14/17 02:13 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
AZN, are you serious? I'm not sure if you're kidding - she just started a month ago. I really enjoy this student and am hopeful she'll get it at the next lesson. BTW, I show them how to play C and G before they see the actual score (I teach all concepts before they actually see the music.) It takes a little more than 5 minutes to place magnets in spaces and around lines, draw the 2 notes, play them and then look at the score.

I wasn't really kidding, but now that you say the student started a month ago and she's already more than halfway through the Primer book, don't you think you're going way too fast? More specifically, perhaps you need to spend more time with her on the pre-staff notation? Directional reading and keyboard orientation/topography are covered in great detail in the first half of that book, and I typically spend 6 weeks covering that material. More if the student has special challenges (which yours might have, since at age 10 the problems you describe are a little hard to believe). Like I wrote before, this pre-staff stuff gets overlooked by so many teachers, and I can tell by the Transfer Wrecks I keep getting that many kids did not get a solid foundation in the first place.

Even the typical student can use a healthy dose of repetition.

Maybe you can ask the student the compose a little ditty by using the C and G on the magnet board, and you can play it for her.


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#2689475 - 11/14/17 02:21 PM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: JohnSprung]  
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Originally Posted by JohnSprung
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Gary D.
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
One of my students took 4 weeks to distinguish between lines and spaces.

What age?

4


Has this child had an eye examination?


No need. The child is doing swimmingly. Already finished with primer and moved on to supplementary stuff before we hit Book 1.


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#2690423 - 11/18/17 10:18 AM Re: I can't understand students' lack of understanding [Re: chasingrainbows]  
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San Antonio, Texas
Don't worry, this is normal. I have a slower learner about 1 in every 15-20 students. Never give up on them!

I've seen students like this struggle for 2-3 years and then one day - almost overnight - their training kicks in and they start playing. These type of students almost always play for life. There are so many different types of learning styles and some have disabilities. I've never taught to the disabilities. Instead I teach to the individual and learn their style as we go along. These students end up teaching me. They are challenging but the most rewarding students I've had in 25 years teaching.

Experiment, learn, try and try again.

But before all this - take 5 minutes during each lesson to teach the concept to the parent so they can work with the child daily at home.

All that said, sometimes they're just not touching the piano for a week at a time, and that's the cause. Good luck and never give up on a student! smile


Piano books that help you retain students longer. Increase your profits and enjoy your job even more.

https://wholesalesheetmusic.com/teachers (get a free book just for dropping by)

Please check out my blog at https://wholesalesheetmusic.com/teachers/blog/
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