Should Mom learn to read music too?

Allison Cooke said: May 17, 2013
Allison Cooke
Suzuki Association Member
Guelph, ON
6 posts

I’m currently teaching how to read music for the first time. It’s going very well for the student—It helped that he learned how to read treble clef and basic rhythms at school, so we skipped over a huge chunk of beginner stuff. However, because I fast tracked him at first, his mom has no idea what’s going on! He’s 9, so he doesn’t need help right now, but I’m worried he’ll need it later and have no one to help him at home.
Do your parents know how to read music? Do you find that it’s important for them to be able to? Have you ever assigned ‘homework’ for parents? (that’s what I’m going to have to do, in order for her to learn if I decide it would be best)

Barb said: May 17, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

I learned in a modified Suzuki-in-schools program. No parents were involved. I was 9 1/2 or 10 when starting to read, and did fine without my parents’ help. [That said, I know I was depending on the fingerings more than I should have, and when I revisited the violin and Suzuki music 30 years later I realized I had learned an incorrect rhythm in one bar of Minuet No 1!]

If he doesn’t need help right now I would guess he is going to be okay without music reading help at home, and if mom was going to try learning to read and is already a step behind, she probably won’t learn fast enough to get to a point of being the help he needs if he encounters trouble.

If he needs help between lessons, maybe he can get help from the school music teacher, another adult family friend who reads music, or a practice buddy who is also reading.

But if the mom WANTS to learn and do homework assignments, why not?

For my parents that don’t read, I’m planning to start them in fundamentals before the kids… we’ll see how it turns out in reality. So far all my parents have already been music readers.

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Elizabeth Friedman said: Jun 29, 2013
Elizabeth Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
49 posts

I generally have non-reading parents learn to read alongside their students—at least a little. I do sit and explain basics to them in Book 1—that when the dots go up, the notes go up, etc. I also find that “I Can Read Music” by Joanne Martin is pretty key for both parents and students at that stage.

At 9, this child is probably pretty well on his way to becoming an independent practicer. Mom can still help by keeping an eye out for things like posture and technique. And, if she wants to learn to read, flash cards are always a good place to start—at least so she can have some idea as to what’s going on. (With these, I always have the student make them, with the note on the front, and the name of the pitch and location on the violin on the back.)

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