Note Reading

  • When?


  • Every child is different and therefore the development and progress of every child differs, some advance fast, others slower.


  • Once the child knows how to hold the bow correctly, has understood the cello technique in principle and can play a piece without having to think about every technical detail, it is safe, in my opinion, to introduce another challenge as long as the challenge doesn’t distract them too much and the newly acquired technique gets lost again in the process.


  • Once a child has understood whether a tune goes up or down and has a rough understanding of the relationship between the fingerings they play and the note, which comes out as a result of playing that particular finger, then they are ready to be introduced to the first steps of note reading.


  • Why at this particular point?


  • In my experience, the longer you wait introducing written down music, the more it scares the children. I have noticed that once they are halfway through book 1 and they never look at the music, they don’t have the confidence to think that they can learn a piece by themselves. Another reason to start at this particular point for me is the parents. Quite a few can’t read music themselves and I can notice a nervousness amongst non- reading parents, who then write down whole pieces in finger numbers. The child then starts to accept that this is the way to go and may end up refusing to play anything without fingerings.I have seen children, who are very frustrated not to be able to read the piece, they are trying to learn.


  • What’s the best way of going about it?


  • To begin with I start showing them certain symbols like the bass clef and the treble clef, I show them what the different notes like crotchets, quavers etc. look like and let them see songs like the ‘Good Luck Song’ (only open strings), which they already can play well by then, written down on a big poster. Every open string has a certain color. By following with the eyes the sheet music, even though already memorized, it helps the brain to register the different notes and note values.


  • Cards with note values, rhythms and other symbols like time signatures and rests etc. are useful at the beginning.


  • Then Joanna Martin’s books ‘I Can Read Music’ is very helpful: I tend to do one page melody reading and one page rhythm per lesson, sometimes less but I try to make it a regular exercise.


  • I also do at random checks: as we are working on a piece, I will talk about a certain note rather than a finger.


  • I practice Twinkle with the child and we both name the notes as we play along.


  • I try to add some sight reading every now and then, easy pieces of which they might already know the tune.


  • What material do I use?



  • Vamoosh


  • Sassmannshaus Schule


  • Theory Made Easy for Little Children by Lina Ng


  • Games (card games, board games, puzzles etc.)


  • Mind Games



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