Teaching Music, beginners piano
The daily life of a music teacher
Stories and other associations can be such a help when you are trying to learn or remember something. On an outdoor adventure programme I was watching on TV a guy was tying a knot in a rope, and as he was doing it he was saying, “the rabbit comes out of the hole, runs round the tree, and goes back in the hole”. I was intrigued, so I looked it up and found two different ways of learning how to tie this knot, called a ‘bowline’, a knot which is used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope.
One way went like this: Tie a bowline by forming a loop in the standing part of the line. Pass the end up through the eye of the loop, around the back of the standing part and then down through the eye again.
Even though these instructions are straightforward, I did have to study them a bit to understand them, and I knew that if I tried to tie a bowline later I’d struggle to remember how to do it.
Then I looked for instructions that had the rabbit story, and I found this:
After I read these instructions, I went looking for a piece of string because I really wanted to tie that knot! Now that I had the rabbit in my mind, it was fun to tie the knot, and it was easy. I could tie it again and again without looking at the instructions – all I had to do was think of the rabbit.
Why is this way of teaching so effective? First of all it’s fun, which is motivating – that’s what got me hunting for the string. Secondly, it’s engaging. It captures your attention easily, and you are led through the thought process without having to try to understand it.
Thirdly, it uses an association, which gives you a handle on the information so you can keep it in your memory. When you tie the knot, all you have to remember is to make the tree and the hole, and then get the rabbit moving! This is such a powerful way to learn and remember things, as the association allows you to keep the instructions in your mind until you master them. Then, after tying the knot a number of times, you’d be able to do it without thinking about the rabbit any more. It was interesting, though, that the guy on the programme still talked about the rabbit as he was tying the knot, even though he’s probably tied a bowline thousands of times. We often have an affection for associations that have helped us to learn – we just like them.
Easy Notes uses this approach in teaching the notes on the piano and the stave to beginners. Just like the rabbit helped me to tie the bowline, stories and characters can make it fun and easy for kids to learn and remember the notes.
And speaking of rabbits, this year, as I’ve been using Easy Notes with my beginner students, I’ve been changing one of the characters, Boot B, to Bunny B. The story goes that there is a gate with three posts down on ‘Bass Stave Farm’, just below the dog’s kennel (which they learn about in Easy Notes). Field F is growing under the gate and Bunny B is hopping over it.
On the stave,Field F grows below the bottom line of Bass Stave Farm, and Bunny B is on the second line because of his two big ears. When you see a note on the second line, think of Bunny B with two ears – ‘two lines, two ears’. And where is that Bunny on the piano? Hopping over the gate, with Field F growing under it. Easy! Now the notes on the stave and the notes on the piano are linked.
This change has been working really well with the kids – it’s a strong character association, and they all really like Bunny B. So I’ve decided to incorporate it into Easy Notes when it’s time to reprint the books – watch out for Bunny B hopping over the gate in the 2nd edition!
One five-year old student I started teaching this year very politely corrects me when I say Boot B by mistake – she’d much prefer Bunny B! She now has a big pile of 18 note flashcards that she can name and play on the piano. I can’t help saying to her, “Wow, you’re only five and look at all the notes that you know!” It still amazes me how these five-year olds can learn so many notes and read and play the music in their piano books so easily – thanks to Bunny B (and the other characters).
Here she is in a video I took recently. Her name is Hannie, and she has been learning for six months.
As stated by Sprenger, “Everyone can learn under the right circumstances. Learning is fun! Make it appealing.”1 Sometimes a simple story, like a rabbit running around a tree or hopping over a gate, can create the right ‘circumstances’ for real learning to take place. It’s great how a story can turn something that’s difficult to learn into something that’s not only easy to learn, but fun as well. Creating learning ‘circumstances’ like this when we teach can open up the potential of our students’ minds to take so much more in, understand so much more, and retain it all while they build it into their long term memories, where it stays for life – securely attached like a well-tied bowline!
(The character magnets and magnetic stave come with the Wilbecks Easy Notes – Magnetic Stave Whiteboard and Character set. The gate will be available in the 2nd edition of the Easy Notes theory books.)
1Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles, Marilee Sprenger in Differentiation through Learning Styles and Memory
It’s not hard to figure out why this statement is true. When things are taught in a fun way, your whole being is stimulated: your emotions are happy and excited; your mind is alert and receptive; your will is compliant and eager; and physically, you are awake and energised. Dr. Seuss once said, “I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.” If something is fun, our minds are fresh and open to receive new information. Fun gets the brain primed and ready to learn.
On the contrary, our brains turn off to things that are dull. “We don’t pay attention to boring things … We remember learning that is fun, novel, different.” (Toney, 2011) When something is taught in a boring way, there’s nothing to energise or capture your attention. If you do manage to stay focused, it’s by sheer determination of will, perhaps because there is some external motivation such as an exam, demanding that you pay attention and absorb the information. And even then, at some point, you find your attention wandering off somewhere … oops, oh dear, what did I miss?
I wanted to demonstrate this contrast with a group of music teachers by teaching them something in two different ways. So I decided to help them learn the first twelve elements of the periodic table of elements in Chemistry (i.e. Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium…). First, I taught them in a very logical, rather boring way, using mnemonics. I structured it the same way that we teach the notes to music beginners, as if the elements were ordered on lines and spaces, with one mnemonic for the odd numbered elements, and one for the even numbered ones. It was interesting watching them as they laboured under this strategy. They were all very serious, there were many frowns, and the atmosphere reminded me of any one of my high school maths, chemistry or accounting classes – i.e. serious, uninspiring, labour-intensive. I knew that none of the content would be stored in their long-term memory – that if I asked them a year later, “what is the 11th element on the periodic table?”, the answer would be, “….uuuhhhhh……can I Google that?”.
Then I taught them the same facts in a different way, using stories and pictures which helped them to learn the element names and link them to their number on the periodic table. I also gave them corresponding games, where they played with magnets on magnetic boards, which got them moving and engaging with what they were learning. What a huge contrast; the whole atmosphere and countenance of the teachers changed dramatically, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds! The stories and games were fun, the pictures were colourful, and this time I could tell that the information was going in. When I tested them at the end, the responses were quick and confident, and there was a lot of laughter and fun, as now the elements had meaning and even personalities given to them by the stories. It was great!
Subsequently, I’ve done this demonstration with various groups of teachers around New Zealand and Australia, and many of them have said to me months later, “You know, I can still remember all twelve elements!” I find that amazing, as that result only came from having one session with them. It shows the power of our brains to store information in our long term memory when it is learned in a fun context.
Imagine what could be achieved if, as teachers, we took this approach to teaching on a weekly basis. If adults respond better to teaching that is fun, how much more relevant this is with kids! Using a bit of “nonsense” to impart information is a great way to teach if it’s going to “wake up” our students’ brain cells!
When you are teaching music to a new beginner, one of the biggest tasks is to teach them the notes – but this gives a lovely opportunity to have fun! I love making this the most fun part of the lesson by using Easy Notes to turn the notes into characters and stories. I have started some 5- and 6-year olds in piano lessons this year, and what fun they have with the stories and magnets! One 5-year old boy walked into his lesson last week and said to me, “I’ve made up a song about the notes”, so I asked him to play it to me. He then played the notes from C to G singing, “C is for Cat, D is for Dog, E if for Elephant…” It was so cute! I asked him if he made it up by himself, and he said that he and his parents made it up together. What a lovely picture then sprang into my mind: Mum, Dad and son gathered around the piano with the Easy Notes theory book open on the music stand, making up a song about the characters … I’m sure that’s quite a romantic 1950’s sort of image, but it’s probably not too far off! I’m going to video him singing his song and post it in my next blog – so stay tuned (it’s really cute).
Not only do the kids enjoy learning in a fun way, but how satisfying for me, the teacher, when I see them week by week assimilating the notes and their positions into their memory, and subsequently being able to play the music from their piano books with ease. I used to struggle so much with this aspect of teaching music, and would never start kids as young as 5 and 6, knowing that they weren’t ready for the academic rigour of learning the notes and reading music using the traditional way of mnemonics. But now that I have found a fun way to do it, I happily start students even as young as this, because when learning is fun, learning is easy!
I’d like to close with one more quote for you: “Fun learning is successful learning, so your homework assignment for the week is to make learning fun!” (Hager, 2010)
Take care everyone.
If you would like to comment on this topic, please feel free to in the space below.
My next blog will be about how fun creates a positive atmosphere in the lesson and removes the fear of failure.
Kasibhatla, Nishant (2010). Maximise your Memory Power. EzineArticles.com
Toney, Barbara (2011). Brain Rules: An Overview of the 12 Brain Principles. EzineArticles.com
Hager, Stephen (2010) College Survival Guide: Make Learning Fun! EzineArticles.com
I’ve been reading a lot about motivation lately, and have found seven ‘keys’ to motivation. When we teachers use these keys, we are able to help switch on that wonderful inner motor, intrinsic motivation, which drives the desire to learn.
Meet Morgan. He’s seven years old and has been learning piano for four months. He is so positive at lessons and is really motivated to practise piano and do his Easy Notes theory at home. Two weeks ago he came to his lesson and said, with a little smile on his face, “I’ve done a bit more theory than I was supposed to.” He couldn’t wait for me to open his theory book and find out that he had done twelve pages!
Then the next week, when I opened his theory book, I found out that he had done another twelve pages!
I talked to his Mum about it recently. She said she’ll often walk in to the room and find he’s doing his theory, and she’ll pretend to growl at him, saying, “What? Doing music again when you could be watching T.V.?” He thinks it’s a great joke. One time she asked him why he’s doing so much music and he said, “I just really like it.”
Here’s a video of Morgan and I in a piano lesson a few weeks ago:
So why does Morgan like learning piano so much, and what is it that’s motivating him?
- Suggest challenges to rise to, inspire goal setting. Show what’s possible when you work hard.
- If this results in students setting personal goals, this can be an important source of motivation
In his first piano lesson I told Morgan about a boy I was teaching, who is a few years older. He has always practised consistently at home, and is playing at Grade 4 level. I played a song to Morgan that this boy was playing at the time, “Clocks” by Coldplay. I didn’t know it would have such an effect on Morgan, but his Mum told me he thought it was wonderful. He loves music and often listens to music on the iPod, and is really motivated by the thought that if he works hard at piano, in a few years he could be playing songs like “Clocks”.
- When students see the relevance of what they are being asked to do, they understand its purpose, and they recognise that it is enabling them to achieve their personal goals.
Morgan’s Mum told me that for the first few weeks he found piano difficult, but she told him that I want him to practise so that it will become easy. So when he got to the end of his first piano book a few months later, she got him to go back and play some of the early pieces and he realised how easy they now were. She pointed out that it was practice and learning the notes that eventually made those pieces easy for him and enabled him to play much harder music.
Also, at the beginning his mind was going a mile a minute and I could see he was only half-listening when we did Easy Notes, but from the third lesson he started to really focus on it. Eventually that day he said, “Mum says if I do my theory I’ll learn the notes and that will help me to play the piano.”
His Mum really helped him to realise the relevance of practising and doing theory, that this was the way to fulfill his goal, which is to become good at playing the piano. This also shows how valuable parents’ input at home is!
- Fun helps to energise and engage the student, and when they are able to actively participate in learning by physically moving and engaging with content, this greatly increases fun.
Morgan is so keen to learn all the notes and loves the active participation with the character magnets, putting them on the piano and the stave. It’s fun, and is a lot like fitting pieces of a puzzle together. And the more notes he learns, the more of the “puzzle” he can do, and the faster he can do it.
- In our teaching we need to look for ways to arouse our students’ curiosity; this gives them the desire to know more.
Morgan is so curious to know what all the notes are and how the “puzzle” all fits together. When he puts all the magnets he knows on the stave or the piano and there’s a gap, he wants to know what the note is. And if he sees some of the magnets that we haven’t done yet he’ll ask what they are and wants to know when he’s going to learn them.
- Human beings gain a sense of satisfaction when they can do things well, and doing something well makes them want to do more of it.
Morgan really enjoys working through his theory books, doing much more than expected, and becoming very good at reading the notes. In the video he says “I think it’s fun learning all the notes that I’m supposed to learn quite a while from now, so I just rush on. I want to get into it and learn all the rest of the notes.”
- When students work at something and know that they are getting better at it, the feeling of growing competence is really motivating. Realising that this improvement is a result of their effort motivates them to keep on putting in the effort.
When Morgan’s Mum showed him how far he had come in his piano playing in three months as a result of his practise and doing his theory, he realised himself that he had come a long way, and that this was the result of his own effort. Now he is looking to the future. The other day he said to me, “I wonder what piano book I’ll be up to in three years. Maybe I’ll be up to Level 6 by then? Or maybe I’ll be way past it?”
- Knowing that other people are pleased with their effort motivates students to keep working, as they know that their efforts will be noticed and appreciated by others.
Morgan’s Grandma learned piano when she was young but later wished she’d taken it further, and so she’s always praising and encouraging him, as are his parents. His ‘external’ home environment reinforces his ‘inner’ motivation and personal goals.
Before we discuss the last key, I’d like you to meet one more of my students, Katy. Katy started well, but it wasn’t long before she was dragging her feet when it came to practising at home. Eventually her mother became sick of the struggle over practise, and with a heavy heart decided that Katy’s lessons would stop at the end of the term.
On the day of her last lesson I thought, ‘well, it’s the last lesson so let’s just have some fun’. So we turned to some songs she knew, and I got her to play them an octave higher while I accompanied her on the lower octaves, and together we turned her pieces into beautiful duets. Well, guess what? For the first time in ages (shame on me) she enjoyed playing the piano! And she just wanted to play those pieces over and over – she loved it!
At lunch time (I teach at a school) she asked if she could bring some friends in so we could play the songs to them, and so we did. The friends happened to also be learning piano with me, so they also played some pieces, and then they all ended up practising the notes with the magnets and setting time challenges for putting the magnets on the stave, etc. And “voila”, a group lesson was born. They all begged me to let them continue it, something I am very keen to do, as I could see it really energising and sparking them all up. Which brings me to the last key:
- Learning is simply more fun when students get to learn with others. This gives a sense of belonging. When their learning is always done in isolation from their peers, motivation can easily wane.
As soon as her Mum picked her up after school that day, Katy began to talk about how much she loved piano, and the decision was made that she would not give up after all.
Besides the key of social interaction, you would have been able to see other “keys” turning on Katy’s motivation during that ‘last lesson’, such as relevance, in that playing to her friends gave a purpose to her learning, recognition from her friends, as they said how much they enjoyed our duets, and fun and active participation, both in playing the duets and in the note-reading games she did with her friends. Actually, it was the fun of making beautiful music that was the turning point for Katy, and isn’t that what we music teachers are ultimately all about! I learned a big lesson that day, and I only happened to turn that key by accident. But now I have ‘seven keys to motivation’ jangling on my teaching ‘key ring’, and let me tell you, I plan to use them!
It’s wonderful when you’re teaching a child who is motivated to learn; it’s almost as if they are teaching themselves. It’s like they have an inner motor that is switched on, driving them forward in their desire to learn.
How can that motor be switched on? Engaging teaching can have a powerful influence on inner motivation. When children are able to actively participate and have fun they enjoy learning; nurturing their curiosity gives them a desire to know more; providing opportunities for success gives them a satisfying feeling of competency; tolerance of mistakes emboldens them to try and enables them to learn from mistakes; activities that provide the right amount of challenge enhance motivation; and positive feedback builds confidence and a sense that they are gaining a valuable skill.
I received a letter recently from a grandmother telling me of her delight when her young granddaughter’s motivation to learn was ‘switched on’. Without realising it, she was using engaging teaching techniques, and the results were outstanding!
Grandma Kathy’s story
“I am a retired grandmother, and now that I have the time I’ve decided to learn to play the piano as it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Last year I saw your magnetic stave set so I bought one to help me learn how to read music, and I also thought that it might be something I could use to help my grandchildren as well.
Recently I had my granddaughter, who is 4 years old, stay with me for two weeks and I decided that her time with Granny was going to be of educational value! I can’t give her piano lessons as I’m only learning myself, but I decided I could use Easy Notes to give her a head-start in learning the notes. So every day I spent some time telling her the stories in the Easy Notes books and getting her to put the magnets on the keys of the piano and on the magnetic board. I also got her to do one theory page a day, and we practised the notes with the flashcards.
Well, my granddaughter loved it! Each morning at about 6.30 I’d wake up to a little voice in my ear saying, “Grandma, can we have our piano lesson now?” And not only did she love it, but I couldn’t believe how easily and how well she was learning the notes!
Towards the end of my granddaughter’s stay, I asked my piano teacher to come around and I said to her, “What do you think of this?” Then I got my granddaughter to show her the notes she had learned, and I showed her the work she had done in the Easy Notes theory books. Then I asked my music teacher to test her, and it was amazing – my granddaughter’s accuracy was 100%! My piano teacher couldn’t believe that a little 4-year old could learn the notes like that! She said that she always thought you had to wait until children could read before you could teach them to read music.
Now I’ve bought two more of the Easy Notes sets. One is for my granddaughter to use at home – we’re going to continue learning the notes on Skype! And the other set? It’s for my music teacher!
Well done on creating such an easy-to-use system that really works! It’s brilliant! And if I can use it with such great results, then anyone can!”
I love this story! Without realising it, Kathy was using engaging teaching techniques which helped to switch on the inner motivation of her granddaughter. The little girl loved the stories because they were fun, and they were unlocking the ‘secret code’ of what the notes are on the piano and on the stave; this was exciting and stirred up her curiosity to know more. It was fun to put the magnets on the piano and on the magnetic stave because she could actively participate in it, and because she was able to do it easily it gave her a sense of competency. The progression was gradual, so at each step she was able to achieve success as her skill kept developing. It didn’t matter if she made a mistake, and learning from the mistake helped her to get it right the next time. She liked the challenge of trying to get the notes right and showing that she could do it quickly. When she got them right Grandma would praise her, which made her feel she was developing an important skill, and made her feel good about herself.
When teaching is engaging it’s so powerful and as teachers we really reap the reward! That inner motivation in the learner is so exciting to see. It makes our job so rewarding, and helps to drive them forward in the learning process.
If you have any thoughts to add on motivation to learn, please feel free to post them as a comment below.
In my next post I want to discuss more aspects of motivation.
A few weeks ago I spent the weekend at a local show, with a stand promoting Easy Notes. It’s the first time that I’ve really promoted Easy Notes to the general public (usually I present it to music teachers), and the thing that struck me was the constant stream of kids who would wander up to the table, spot the magnets, and start playing with them. You could tell they really wanted to know what it was about and what the magnets were for. If I wasn’t talking to other customers, I’d teach the kids a few of the notes, telling them the Easy Notes stories, and getting them to put the magnets on the piano keyboard and on the magnetic stave. It was neat to think that after a few minutes doing a fun activity, these kids who had wandered up went away having learned a few music notes!
It reminded me of the term “serious fun”. I’ve googled it to get a precise definition, but there doesn’t seem to be one, so I’ve made up my own:
Serious fun: Fun with an underlying serious objective.
It’s great if you can harness “serious fun” when you want to teach something to someone, because right away you have their attention captured. Then, because it’s fun, they have an inward motivation propelling them forward – they want to do it, they want to find out how. And also, the fun creates an atmosphere in which they feel safe and free from the fear of failure. All of this means that the perfect environment has been created for optimal learning, and their minds are wide open to absorb what you want to teach them, which is the serious objective of the fun.
This kind of learning is vital with young children, and happens abundantly when they play. To adults it may look like they’re just having fun, but to the children their play is their work, because as they play, vital developmental learning takes place. To them, it’s serious fun!
When we were at school most of the learning wasn’t much fun, but we can probably all remember times when we really did get inspired, and learning became serious fun. I remember a project we did when I was 7, on “Tonga”. It was a cold, rainy day outside, but we put on the heaters and turned our classroom into a little Tonga, dressing up as Tongans, making Tongan food, playing Tongan games, and learning about life in Tonga. I absolutely loved it and can still remember a lot about it, like the big sign saying TONGA we made that covered the length of our classroom wall, and I can still visualise some of the pictures in the books we read about Tonga. When learning is fun, our brain becomes like a sponge, soaking up the serious objective of the fun.
That’s what I’ve been loving about using Easy Notes this year. I’ve started 6 piano beginners in the last three months, and all of them have taken delight in hearing the Easy Notes stories, ‘playing’ with the magnets, and completing the theory pages. They like it when I tear out more flashcards to add to their pile as they learn new notes, and they have this kind of pride in showing how they know what the notes are, and how they can name and play the notes when we go through the flashcards. I would definitely say that to them, it’s serious fun!
It’s great when something that has to be learned but is essentially not very fun, such as learning the notes, is dressed up as a fun activity. If you can dish up what you want to teach in a fun way, then you’re on to a winner, and you’re tapping into the power of “serious fun”!
If you have any thoughts to add on serious fun, please feel free to post them as a comment below.
In my next post I want to talk about the motivational power of engaging teaching.
How many of us music teachers have students who are so musical but struggle to read music, and whose ability to read music is grades below the level they are playing at? I have heard this problem brought up in many music teacher discussions. The answer I’ve heard other teachers suggest is to have two lines going: continue to give the student music at the level they are playing at, but also give them music at the level they can read at in order to progress their reading ability. They need to develop their skill to read if they are going to be able to progress musically.
I have recently received a letter from someone who was a classic case of this and, sadly, her difficulty in reading music ultimately blocked her progress. Now as an adult she is determined to tackle the problem, and is finally breaking through! What a shame though that she didn’t have this to help her when she started to learn the piano, right from the very first lesson. Here is what she wrote:
“Rebecca, I wanted to tell you how much I am enjoying your Easy Notes. I am an adult pupil returning to music after many years, and I needed to refresh my memory regarding the notes. To tell the truth I was always a terrible sight reader. I found the old method of learning the notes really hard work and very slow and frustrating. My mind just didn’t seem to work that way. I think that is why I eventually gave up piano, even though I got up to grade 8. It’s hard to believe that at grade 8 I still found it hard to read music, but that’s the sad truth. I learned the pieces by torturously figuring out the notes and then much practising, repetition, ear, and memorising. It was very embarrassing to me that at grade 8 I was such a poor sight-reader, and in fact it made it impossible to carry on. It’s sad that even though I was a good performer and in fact I really enjoyed performing, in the end my poor reading was my downfall. I was probably one of many, many people who gave up piano because this one area was so lacking. Even my music teacher just didn’t know how to help me.
After all these years, I found your Easy Notes and decided to return to music lessons. I am really enjoying your method of learning the notes – it’s so incredibly simple! When I see a note on the stave, I instantly think of your little character and I know what the note is without having to count up the stave with mnemonics. So much quicker! My sight reading is improving a lot, thanks to your wonderful product. So you see, even an old student like me is not too old for Easy Notes and it’s never too late to learn. If you want to use this on your blog I really don’t mind at all. I’d like everyone to know that your method works well not only with children but also with adults.
Thanks very much Rebecca, with much appreciation.
It’s so encouraging to hear that Easy Notes is helpful to all age-groups, young and old alike! I’m sure that if Ruth could have learned the notes this way when she was young she wouldn’t have had the difficulty in learning to read music that she did, but how great it is that she has now found a way to break through! I hope this opens the way for her to read, play and enjoy LOTS of music. Good on you Ruth!
If anyone has any comments, or stories similar to this, feel free to post them in the box below.
My next blog topics will be about a quote I once read, “When learning is fun, learning is easy”.
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.