Help! Sight reading problem

Nadia said: Mar 13, 2017
 4 posts

My 12 year old has been learning violin for 8 years, now in Book 7 and other solo pieces from Barbara Berber book. But he does not read music, and does not sight read, either. Every instructor, private lesson + orchestra, has been trying to teach him to do so for the last 4 years to no avail. My son was an early reader and has good enough memory to remember notes, but he needs to read + count in order to progress any further. He likes violin and music. What can I do as a parent to help him??

Briana LeClaire said: Mar 14, 2017
 Cello
16 posts

Has he tried the Note Rush app?

I sympathize. My friend’s pianist son got a very long way by memorizing everything. He also composes electronic music . . . on the computer, which is another place he doesn’t need to read music. :)

What made the difference for him was when playing piano became a money-making proposition. In cahoots with his piano teacher, I hired him to accompany my students (I’m a cello teacher) at our recent Festival.

He worked his tail off memorizing everything. When he and I rehearsed (before I put him together with my students) he saw many holes in his plan, like not being able to instantly find where I needed him to go, or why he was dropping or adding beats. His sight reading got much better, quickly.

You should have seen his face when he got paid at Festival—ch-CHING!! Lesson learned.

Showing this kid that reading music made him a better hire worked. Maybe it could work for your son.

Nadia said: Mar 14, 2017
 4 posts

Thank you, Briana, for taking time to share the inspiring story! I am now looking into hiring someone who would hire my son.

Carol said: Mar 18, 2017
Carol Preston
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Damariscotta, ME
12 posts

Can you tell if the issue is motivation or a learning difficulty or fear of failure, etc.? That would make a difference on how to approach it. It is my understanding that the abilities to read language and read music do not necessarily parallel each other (according to what some research show a number of years ago).

Also, hear is a fun app that I used in school to learn note naming. The FREE version is great.

Music Tutor (FREE version)
Music Tutor

Nadia said: Mar 18, 2017
 4 posts

Now that you’ve mentioned the possible causes, my son is very resistant to trying anything new for the fear of failing, he won’t try if he doesn’t think he might be good at it. (and how can you be good at anything if you don’t try?) He didn’t want to learn violin (or even going to school) for how many years. It took him 5 years before he didn’t mind it anymore and now he says he likes it. He still resists receiving instructions, though…

Thank you so much for your insight, Carol! What you said help me understand how I should approach my son’s development in every area. It means a lot to me as a parent!!

Nadia

Carol said: Mar 18, 2017
Carol Preston
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Damariscotta, ME
12 posts

Nadia, I’m so glad to have tossed out an idea that might be helpful. I took a course as a public school teacher that was very helpful to me. It was based on a book by Rudolf Dreikurs, Maintaining Sanity in the Classroom: Classroom Management Techniques. Although it might sound unrelated, he classifies the fear of failure as a behavior and talks about how work with those children to understand it. He calls it their “hidden” motive. That is, the child, for some reason, behaves in a way that indicates a fear of failure. However, they are unaware of this motive and don’t know why they feel and behave the way they do. And they don’t want to be that way. Dreikurs lays out steps to help the child understand their hidden motive—and it doesn’t not include saying directly “are you afraid of failing.” Part of the technique is helping discover their motive in a way that makes sense to them.

I used this book to work with a number of kids in school who had extreme behavior that is unaffected by the usual behavior management techniques—there might be 2-3 in every classroom. This book is about those kids. Kids with this hidden motive can act out badly in class or they can easily be a mouse in the corner. However, they will often not do schoolwork or try anything new.

I had a violin student who was definitely in this category. I wasn’t able to help her as much as I hoped except to have her be able to talk about it. I know it affects the other parts of her life, as her mother and I discussed at length.

Good luck to you. There’s a lot on the internet and also professional help if needed.

Nadia said: Mar 18, 2017
 4 posts

How did you know?? Carol, my son is one of those kids in every classroom who doesn’t respond to the usual class management strategy. He does not do schoolwork, and every teacher has been intrigued (to the point of frustration) why my son will NOT do simple school work when he has capacity. (He’s TAG.) No one has figure him out before—or had to spend time doing so because he is well-behaved otherwise and doesn’t disrupt others.

I truly appreciate dedicated teachers like you, Carol. I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Nadia

Hadley Johnson Gibbons said: Mar 21, 2017
Hadley Johnson Gibbons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Seattle, WA
31 posts

Have you tried sightreadingfactory.com? I have my students do it for 10 minutes a day. There are six different levels, as well as customizing options. It’s essentially an engine that creates unlimited sight reading in very short (8 measure) passages. I like to have my kids do half rhythm only and half violin. Cost is $37 for a year’s subscription, and you can try out 20 free before buying.

Briana LeClaire said: Mar 24, 2017
 Cello
16 posts

Whoa! Sight Reading Factory is super cool! I just blogged about it. http://www.brianaleclaire.com/sight-reading-factory-the-big-enchilada/

Cindy Basse MS said: May 12, 2017
Cindy Basse MS
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Marquette, MI
1 posts

I just subscribed after reviewing the site extensively! Agreed, Briana LeClaire, WHOA! This is a much needed tool for one of my older students requiring some support with his reading! Thank you Hadley Johnson Gibbons for this recommendation!

Cindy L. Basse

Hadley Johnson Gibbons said: May 12, 2017
Hadley Johnson Gibbons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Seattle, WA
31 posts

At this point I do subscriptions for everyone who is past Book 2. Subscriptions are less expensive the more students who sign up (I just renewed 17 of them for $7 each; along with the studio subscription, I ended up only needing to charge students $10 each). One of my Book 2 students was told that she had amazing sight reading at an audition and got in without a call back—how about that for a Suzuki kid??? Have fun with it!

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