So, you have followed the strategies I introduced in my first post, and your student is still struggling with note reading. Now what?
If you have ruled out any learning challenges (such as dyslexia) or physical challenges (such as poor eyesight), then it is time for more in-depth strategies to help your student with note reading. Some students just aren’t visual learners and require a more kinesthetic approach to reading. Other students just need a little more practice mastering the fundamentals of note reading. Either way—don’t give up! Here are my additional resources for helping your students become strong readers:
1. Faber's “I Can Read Music” series.
I have had good luck using this series of books with students that just need extra practice with note reading. Each book contains note naming puzzles, interval identification exercises, and short sight-reading activities to provide a three-pronged approach to reading. Take a look at these books HERE.
For students that are kinesthetic learners, manipulatives can be a wonderful way to work on note reading! A large magnetic staff board that students can touch and move notes across, or a floor staff that students can step on are both good tools to work on identifying notes and intervals. As a bonus, it gets those wiggly kinesthetic learners up off the piano bench and moving around!
3. Writing on the staff.
Have students practice drawing notes using a dry-erase board, iPad app, or pencil and paper. Encourage students that enjoy playing by ear to notate the pieces they know on the staff. Create short compositions that students can notate on staff paper. Just like in spoken language, reading and writing go hand-in-hand.
4. Incorporating rote playing in lessons.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but teaching a piece by rote, and then introducing it on the staff, can help kinesthetic students make the connection between what they feel when they play and what they see in the music. Rote playing also helps give students that struggle with note reading a way to be successful at the piano until their reading skills catch up to their playing level.
What do you think? Do you have students that have extra difficulties with note reading? I would love to hear your strategies for helping students in this area!