Child struggling with sight reading

Carolyn Nadeau said: Nov 9, 2013
5 posts

I’m wondering what else I can do to help her. She’s doing very well with Suzuki violin and is finishing up The Two Grenadiers in book 2. She’s working out of I Can Read Music book 1, and she’s toward the end of the book, but it is still cumbersome and difficult for her to figure it out. She hates flash cards and doing just this minimal amount of sight reading is a struggle for us. She also struggled with learning how to read and I think this is a challenge to her in the same way that learning to read has been. She is 9 years old and has been in Suzuki violin since she was 6. She’d like to join orchestras at some point and I want to help her become a stronger reader.

Laura said: Nov 11, 2013
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Mancos, CO
107 posts

When I use “I Can Read Music” with my students we go through a 3 step process.

1—First we SAY (speak) the names of the notes (letter names) for one line.
2—then we SAY (speak) the addresses of the notes (finger numbers) for that same line.
3—then I have the student play that line on the violin.

I have them practice one line a day at home and I give stickers for each page completed.

Edmund Sprunger said: Nov 13, 2013
Edmund SprungerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Saint Louis, MO
105 posts

I CAN READ MUSIC is the best thing that ever happened to my music reading approach. I thank Joanne Martin every time I see her! I teach it using “skips and steps” and it is nearly effortless.

A step is when you go from a line note to a space note, or a space note to a line note. A skip is when you skip the space between two line notes or the line between two space notes.

So for this note sequence (that starts on open A)
the student says
“A, repeat, repeat, repeat, step up, repeat, repeat, repeat, step down, repeat, step up repeat, step down, repeat, repeat, step up”

For this note sequence (that starts on open A)
A A C# A A C# C# C#

the student says
“A, repeat, skip up, skip down, repeat, skip up, repeat, repeat”

I hope that this bare bones explanation can give you a sense of how it works.

The student can do each pitch line in I CAN READ MUSIC in one of three ways:
1 Say the skips and steps
2 Say the skips and steps and have the fingers do what the mouth says (no sound)
3 Play the line

When the interval is larger than a skip, the student simply says the next note.

For this note sequence (that starts on open A)
A A C# D A D C# C#

the student says
“A, repeat, skip up, step up, A, D, step down, repeat”

In other words, the student says the name of the first note in the line then the rest is with skips and steps, unless the interval is larger than a skip. This approach takes the place of flash cards—which I used to use—and it is nearly effortless.

Doris Preucil has her students do something like circle all of the steps in Book One; and then circle all of the skips. What they discover is that most of it is skips and steps.

The kids love it!

Edmund Sprunger

Merietta Oviatt said: Nov 14, 2013
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
107 posts

“I can Read Music” is amazing, particularly when paired with “Music Mind Games.” However, I have had a few students who just don’t seem to click with the book. For those kids I have gone to the Muller Rusch method books. Book 1 is all about note/rhythm reading. It’s a hybrid book with each lesson beginning with basic exercises and then putting those exercises into actual practice and having them play very short two line songs (etudes). It teaches the students by string and then combines strings. I have had amazing success with these books and would encourage you to look into them. I have also found that I have much greater success with the “I Can Read Music” series now that my students also learn “Music Mind Games.” You mix the two together and it’s a winning combination—my beginning orchestra students all know their Blue Jello words!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

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