Note Reading for the Youngest Beginner

I believe that one of the most important elements in a music lesson is ear training. Developing the child’s musical ear sharpens the senses when hearing pitch changes, harmonic combinations, different styles and moods of music, various tempos and meters, and creating melodic sounds and rhythms without boundaries.

With that being said, let me address the question, “Can children ages 4 and 5 learn to read notes?” The answer is YES!

I have been teaching young children music for over 30 years and have observed children’s learning styles as they learn music in a group or private lesson.

Communication and Language
Language is learned before reading takes place as children begin communicating and making gestures and sounds. Children learn to speak language by listening to combinations of sounds that make up words. They relate words to shapes, colors, tastes, texture and emotions.

Many parents read to their children, and point to pictures that relate to the reading material in their child’s books. For example, a simple picture of a ball, which may be one of the child’s toys, and the word BALL written above the picture may help the child to begin associating the word with the picture.

An example of word recognition that comes to mind is the large yellow M on the sign representing McDonald’s Restaurant. Many children have the ability to make a mental picture of a word and remember the image, shape, and length of the word. All children have the ability to learn in their own unique way, and the process begins at a young age.

So, why shouldn’t a young child learn to read musical notation? Music is not only aural but visual. Musical notation contains shapes and designs that can be associated with melody.

I believe in teaching an integrated music lesson to young children implementing ear training, activities with movement, and visual activities that ultimately lead to reading rhythm and notation on the staff.

Based on my experience, children learn the language of music naturally when exposed to the entire language. Let’s remember that the reading process takes time, and with gentle guidance the child will eventually be able to connect notation and pitch.

Judy Kagel, JBK Music Publishing
Director and author of the Keyboard Beginnings Music Series

Part 2 will address some techniques and activities for integrating reading and ear training in the music lesson.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: