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Inventor and creator of Wilbecks Easy Notes. Hi – I’m Rebecca and I’ve been teaching music for most of my working life. I love working with beginners and seeing how they light up as they start developing the skill to make music.
Posts by Rebecca
It’s coming up to the end of the first year that Easy Notes has been in the New Zealand market, so I asked teachers to write in about how they are finding it. This is the last of five blogs in which I’ve posted their comments. Here’s what they’re saying:
I have used Easy Notes with some of my younger students to revise note-reading, and it is an instant success! I also recently gave it to a very musical 15 yr old, who got 91% for a Trinity Gr 5 Piano exam, but somehow still has trouble with bass note recognition, despite my continued efforts. I then mentioned that I have a new system designed for young students and we had a lot of fun introducing the lower bass cleff notes your way! He even suggested calling the note below the lowest C, “Bottom B” – his own contribution. So your system is working!
I have used the magnetic board and the magnets a great deal at Palmerston North Saturday music. I teach music basics. I have a lot of 4 and 5 year olds. It has been a brilliant resource.
Thought you’d be interested to know a fairly new beginner 16 yr old is benefiting most from Easy Notes at the moment!
I have found that my beginner students have picked up reading of the notes so much better being able to associate the notes with pictures. The 1st student that I used Easy Notes with did the One Minute Club in 44 secs 1st try.
The magnet board and books are going well. The children I teach in a variety of ages are enjoying using the magnets and learning the note names. I have always enjoyed teaching using flashcards and different props so this is another great tool to use. Its heaps of fun, kids love the magnets – I teach individuals and groups and it’s very successful. I will spread the word to other Teachers about the system.
I have always been a fan of flashcards and now that I have Easy Notes it has made this part of my teaching fun and exciting for my pupils. My pupils absolutely love them and so do I. They really do work.
Here is some more feedback I have recently received from teachers who are using Easy Notes.
Easy Notes has been extremely effective in helping students learn the names of the notes. They are instantly able to recognize the notes they have learned so far. Progression develops steadily each music session.
The character association has helped students easily recall the names of the notes. Although I have not kept strictly to the ‘story’ it becomes an activity of learning and fun. It has taken the chore and slog out of theory. The kinaesthetic approach to the learning of notes of the staff has become a valuable tool to learning theory of music at this beginning level.
It has been easy for me to use – the magnet board, magnets and characters are kept out for daily use. Not too cumbersome and very user friendly.
I have been using Easy Notes this year with all of my students at school from Year 1 – Year 8 and keeping a check on where everyone is up to. They all absolutely adore the books and stories and use the names of the notes to work them all out on the keyboard. It has definitely helped their keyboard geography.
The set I purchased from your Dunedin visit is very popular with my grandchildren. At 4 ½ and 6 years of age, and of course “very musical” (says their proud Granny) the magnetic board and notes was a great follow up from the piano lessons they always get when they come to visit. Your storybook idea worked well and it was used in conjunction with reading from a more “traditional” tutor book. The two didn’t conflict and they loved the idea of finding the boy and the girl and their pets and apple trees on the piano. I also know that a colleague has used her set for group teaching at a Rudolf Steiner school, and tells me her young pupils found it great fun.
I have only been using the Easy Notes system this term (2 weeks) but can already see some improvement in my students’ note recognition. They seem to really enjoy this different way of learning AND an unexpected bonus is that I have found that the lesson is more enjoyable for me – certainly much less frustrating! Thankyou Rebecca!
I have been really impressed with your books and magnetic board and magnets. I have had all positive comments from parents and children. Even older children wanted to do it to improve their note reading. They have too. The children all think it’s fun especially the magnetic board and magnets. Some of the children love to get me to test them with the flashcards. They too are excellent especially the second side with the clues.
Also I have a 21 year old autistic girl who cannot read or read music who I am beginning to use this course with and she likes it. She has up to now played by ear and by copying what I do. We just use the board and magnets.
Parents have told other parents about the books encouraging them to buy them. I will do it with all my new piano students. Even some of my classical guitar students who are about to start theory and music reading I may use this course with as it is a fun way of introducing the notes.
I highly recommend this course and encourage you to go world wide as it is excellent and so helpful for students to learn their notes.
I have enjoyed using your Easy Notes books. My 6yr old girls really love the magnets and look forward to their lessons, such a change in teaching style for me and most productive – at last the girls are learning. Yea!
The pupils that I have been using Easy Notes with absolutely love using the books and the magnet board. I have been really pleased with how using them has helped especially the younger ones with their grasp on where the notes are on the keyboard and on the stave. It has been a breakthrough for one of my pupils!
I have a six year old girl/pupil who always (quite impatiently) keeps asking ‘Can we do the magnet board now?’ ‘Have you remembered we haven’t done the magnet board yet?’ And when I say okay let’s do it …………………… exclamations of glee including ‘okay cool’ ‘yippee’ ‘ oooooooohhhhhhhhhh I just LOVE IT!!’
I have been using the Easy Notes books and the children love them. They are learning the notes more easily as predicted and even the parents are learning and showing great enthusiasm.
We love the stories. My greenies are not so keen on Dad spraying the bugs but hey it is real life!!
Thank you, Rebecca, for dreaming up such a valuable resource.
I have been using your Easy Notes board and books with my classes of music basics students who are five and six years old. They have learnt the notes both on the stave and the keyboard extremely fast. They love the stories and often ask for more. I also teach a few weeks of recorder and violin to them and being able to read the notes on the stave quickly and reliably made learning more fun for them, and teaching easier for me. I will definitely be continuing to use Easy Notes with all my beginners.
Many thanks for a great resource.
It’s nearly the end of Easy Notes’ first year of being out in public, and I’ve just finished another round of Easy Notes presentations, travelling to Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Auckland and Tauranga. It was great meeting more teachers who are keen to try Easy Notes.
In September I ran a book giveaway, with five Easy Notes theory books up for grabs for teachers who wrote in with feedback on how they are finding using Easy Notes. The feedback was so great, so I couldn’t resist asking the teachers if I could publish it! They gave me the go-ahead, so I’m going to use a few blogs to share what they’re saying:
“I would like to say how much I have enjoyed using Easy Notes Books 1&2 with a young student this year.
What I found most interesting was the enthusiastic approach by the student to using the books and the magnetic characters used on the board.
The stories are fun and something tactile to do relating to theory is creative. I have found the books easy to work with, with plenty of revision, and the flash cards are very useful for parents to use at home for note learning.
The stories contribute to making the theory-time a happy occasion. The anticipation to find out what the next new note is becomes encouraging for the student.
I also encourage the use of the characters names when working at the piano both in the music and keyboard. I find it a very successful method of teaching notation.
Well done, it is a very creative and fun way to teach theory.”
“The concept is GREAT and I as well as the students are enjoying the learning process. The white board is so colourful and exciting and makes it all such fun.”
Here I am in Wellington for the last of my string of presentations, at Mainline Music Works in the Wellington CBD. It’s still gloriously sunny, and the capital is without a breath of wind.
The presentation went like all the others, good, with the teachers interested in the products. Had a nice chat with two Suzuki teachers afterwards over morning tea, both of whom were keen to give Easy Notes a try.
All the staff of the shop seemed to be young guys, and I must say, really friendly and polite, and keen to see how Easy Notes works so they can present it to other people.
I thanked them for the way they had Easy Notes prominently displayed up on the wall above the theory books. They said they put it there because it’s a new product, so it gives it a chance to get known, and because it’s big and doesn’t fit in the shelves with the other books! I have the Magnetic Stave to thank for getting us that good position!
Finished off the trip with lunch at a cafe and a beautiful walk along the waterfront.
It’s been an awesome four days, giving four Easy Notes presentations, meeting great people – the music teachers, and the staff of five Music Works shops – ‘bonding’ with my sister, staying with friends, and seeing the beautiful South Island, and the capital, all under never-failing sunshine and blue skies.
I’m proud to be telling people about Easy Notes, and even more when they come back and tell me how much it’s helping their pupils. I hope all the teachers who bought Easy Notes products in Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, and Wellington find them enjoyable to use, and effective in helping their pupils learn to read music!
Tuesday 13th July
No need to get up early today, we have all day to get to Dunedin for a presentation tomorrow morning. Another BEAUTIFUL day to explore this beautiful island! We looked around Timaru before we got back on the road south, and by lunch time we were in Oamaru. Loved the Victorian stone buildings in the historic quarter. Had lunch in the 125-year old Woolstore Cafe, and afterwards spotted an appropriately dressed local – had to get a pic!
Arrived in Dunedin mid afternoon, with time to see lots of beautiful views! It’s my first time here, and I really like this town! Most of the town is built on hills, and everywhere are gorgeous views – out to sea, or out to the harbour, with hills surrounding the city. An inch-thick pile of maps has been chucked in the boot and we are now enjoying the GPS leading us around while we can just drive and enjoy the great scenery.
Before I came on this trip I was worried that it might snow, and roads might be closed etc. Instead, there’s been nothing but bright sunshine all the way, and I even saw surfers – in Dunedin in the middle of winter! There were even people walking past me in t-shirts when I took this picture.
Walked up to the top of Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world. What an energising walk to do! My sister did it in heels – had to admire her for that! On the way, someone hurtled past in their car (that’s the only way to drive up that street), got out at the top and started yelling, “Come on, Milo!” I wondered ‘what on earth..?’, until a big black dog sprinted past me up the street – Ooohh, so that’s ‘Milo’, and that’s how his owner gets out of walking the dog … clever!
Wednesday 14th July – Up early again to get ready for another presentation – 10.00am at Beggs Music Works in Dunedin. A great atmosphere there, with lots of music teachers turning up, and much positive interest in Easy Notes. I met someone there who played the piano for ‘Play School’, a kids’ TV show which I LOVED when I was a preschooler! I remember sitting in front of the TV waiting for my mum to turn it on so I could watch my favourite show. It was awesome to meet this person whose face I never saw on TV, but whose piano playing I must have spent hours listening to! He was really positive about Easy Notes, which meant a lot to me.
Met more great music teachers and really enjoyed talking to them. A few mentioned the IRMT conference coming up in January 2011, which is to be held in Dunedin. Mmmm, maybe I might see about having an Easy Notes display there – that would be a great reason to come back to this lovely city and see it in the summer. I’d enjoy that.
In the afternoon I had time for a trip to Larnach Castle, which I really loved! What a great historic place for New Zealand to have. Flew out of Dunedin at 7pm. Bye, South Island! One more presentation to do – in the capital.
Monday 12 July
In the afternoon we got on the road to drive down to Timaru. What a glorious day! The sun was shining, and the scenery was beautiful. The snow-clad Southern Alps were like our constant companions as we made our way south through the Canterbury Plains. And slowly but surely, the GPS was gaining our confidence, turning from French-speaking foe to, aaahh, English-speaking helpful friend. These things are not bad inventions…
At 4pm we rolled up to Newmans Music Works and I finally got to meet the couple who run the shop, after just knowing them through phone-conversations.
At 5pm we had an Easy Notes presentation, with a great turn-out of teachers for a small town. Once again, the interest in Easy Notes was good, with most of the teachers buying a Magnetic Stave set to try. Met more great music teachers, some teaching privately, some running music programmes in schools. And again, more discussion was had about the difficulty there often is in teaching beginners the notes. I hope they enjoy how Easy Notes makes it so easy. I asked them to send me feedback once they have been using Easy Notes for a while. Maybe I could post the feedback in some blogs.
At 6.30pm we packed up the road show again and headed out into a cold Timaru night. Off to stay with a friend who has a hot dinner by a roaring fire ready for us – aahh, a glorious way to end the day of a travelling salesman!
Monday 12 July
It’s the first day of my trip to the South Island promoting Easy Notes. My sister has come along to keep me company and help me out, and we have had a great day today! It’s the middle of winter, but we woke up to a glorious sunny day in Christchurch. Nearly slipped on the frost on the way to the car, but then we were off to our first teacher gathering at 10.00am, in association with CJ’s Music Works in Christchurch. The presentation went well, with an interesting discussion time afterwards, and all the teachers bought an Easy Notes Magnetic Stave set to try.
I met some awesome teachers. Some of them seem to be so busy, providing fantastic music programmes for kids in schools. It was really impressive to hear what they do.
Over a Devonshire morning tea, there was more discussion about teaching kids to read music. One teacher said that when she learned the piano she had no trouble learning the notes, so, now that she’s a teacher, it’s hard for her to understand why her pupils often find it so difficult. It reminded me of when I had pupils that struggled to read the notes. It was like there was something missing – something they needed to help them get to the ability to easily read music. That’s what Easy Notes does – gives every pupil that ability. It’s just so easy now. No more struggling note readers. Aaah, what a relief!
After packing up our ‘travelling road show’ we went to Sedley Wells Music Works, another music shop in Christchurch. It was really nice to meet them there – they’re a great couple, running a small but busy music shop on very busy Riccarton Road. They think that Easy Notes is a really good product, and as well as selling it to teachers, they are finding it’s popular with parents whose children are beginning to learn piano or keyboard, and are selling a lot that way.
By 1pm we were ready to leave sunny Christchurch and travel south to Timaru. My sister and I, a bit “technologically challenged”, have had a morning of tension and rising blood pressure trying to figure out how to use the GPS! At one point my sister inadvertently managed to get it speaking French! Don’t know if that was better or worse than it constantly telling us in English to take immediate U-turns! Anyway, we seem to have made an uneasy truce with it for now, and we’ll give it one more chance – to see if it can lead us out of Christchurch and get us to Timaru!
Love a road trip – especially when you get to explore new places. Let’s go!
A few months ago I wrote a post about the One Minute Club, and have been meaning to write a sequel to it ever since. Well, here it is, and it can be summed up in the statement: “The One Minute Club is a fantastic idea!!”
A teacher told me about the idea in January – she had read about it in a book by Jane Bastien, and has been practising it herself with her pupils.
So I converted the back of my Wilbecks Magnetic Stave into a One Minute Club, painting gold, silver and bronze sections on it, with Velcro dots for sticking on pupil’s names. Every couple of weeks I time my pupils on the 18 note flashcards they learn in Easy Notes Level 1. If they can name them in 30 seconds or less, I put their name in the Gold section, 45 seconds or less gets them in Silver, and 60 seconds or less, Bronze.
Well, it has been a HUGE success, very popular among all of my pupils! It’s incredibly motivating – sometimes I can’t believe how much they are into it and how much it matters to them!
I’m using it with about 20 of my pupils. It’s been interesting to watch the gradual shift of the name tags from Bronze at the beginning of the year, over to Silver, and now Gold is filling up! And boy, they all want to get into Gold! The fastest time I’ve had so far has been 21 seconds, by an 8-year old boy.
Now some want me to time them on all 31 flashcards – I had a girl the other day name them all in 42 seconds. Another variation I want to do is to time them playing the notes.
So, I recommend this idea to teachers with beginner pupils. It’s very motivating, and the kids love it. Thanks for the idea, Jody!