Pros and Cons of Stick Notation

Stick notation is a method for teaching music reading that involves presenting written notes with the note heads removed. The method is most often associated with the Kodaly method, but is used by non-Kodaly teachers as well. In this article I will consider reasons for using stick notation, and also some drawbacks. Stick notation is … Continue reading Pros and Cons of Stick Notation

Improvising With Tonal Patterns

Music is constructed with patterns of pitches and rhythms. As we have seen over the last two weeks, we begin to learn these patterns aurally from birth and even before. Aural learning continues into the school age years, and is necessary before music reading and writing can be taught effectively. Not only are the raw … Continue reading Improvising With Tonal Patterns

Switching from One Rhythm Syllable System to Another: Helping Students Work Through The Transition

One of the challenges some music teachers face is sharing students with other music teachers. While it is great that a child might be in band, chorus, and or general music or other music offerings, if a child learns the same concept two or even three different ways, confusion can result. A music teacher must … Continue reading Switching from One Rhythm Syllable System to Another: Helping Students Work Through The Transition

What Is An Effective Approach to Teaching Sight Reading?

One of the perennial challenges for music teachers seems to be teaching sight-reading, particularly to older children who have not developed music reading skills at a young age. Music teachers often believe that students will get better at sight reading by practicing sight reading. This is true if students already know how to read music, … Continue reading What Is An Effective Approach to Teaching Sight Reading?

Teaching Antecedent and Consequent Phrase Structure in Music

One of the musical structures we must teach our students is that of phrasing, or what Lerdahl & Jackendoff refer to as grouping. Basic to musical phrases is the concept of antecedent and consequent phrases. Antecedent phrases are complete phrases that end on a pitch of relative instability or tension, resulting in the listener expecting … Continue reading Teaching Antecedent and Consequent Phrase Structure in Music

Two Realms of Childhood

The Core Arts Standards for Music specify standard and/or iconic notation for planning and making musical works, but do not mention using notation of any kind for responding to music. This may be an attempt to keep responding to music accessible to students who have limited music reading skills, but avoids an opportunity to build … Continue reading Two Realms of Childhood

What is a Convenient Shorthand for Music Notation Within Word Processing Software?

When writing lesson plans, I frequently have wished that I had a way of writing melodies quickly and easily on my computer within my word processing software. After attempting to use available symbols on the computer keyboard to contrive stick notation, and then line up solfege syllables I found all of this too time consuming … Continue reading What is a Convenient Shorthand for Music Notation Within Word Processing Software?

How Much Music Reading Instruction is Enough?

Recently, I observed that music reading has received minimal attention in the new NCCAS music standards. To be sure, music reading is not necessary for every musical experience. From a global perspective, our Western music notation is not used at all in many places, especially where music culture is preserved within an oral tradition. In … Continue reading How Much Music Reading Instruction is Enough?

Which Way Is Up?

The concept of up and down is central to musical understanding and experience. In an earlier post entitled, “Musical Ups and Downs—Why is Contour Important?” I discussed several reasons why this is so. But during formal musical training in early childhood, how up and down is represented is not always readily apparent. Early training in … Continue reading Which Way Is Up?

With Music, The Learning Is In The Doing

Today, one of my eighth grade classes was composing percussion ensemble pieces. They had begun their works last week, and were continuing composing today. As I circulated through the class, looking at student work and pointing out notational issues that needed to be corrected, I was reminded of how many students make the same errors, … Continue reading With Music, The Learning Is In The Doing