Ways & How

How to Teach Children to Read Music

How to Teach Children to Read Music

Music is an art, but it is also a science in that it is exact and precise. A musical composition is written down on a sheet using notation, and musicians should know how to read music. Musical notation is a way of writing down elements of music like pitch, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics. Learning how to read music entails learning what all the symbols mean. Although the musical notation may seem complex, it can actually be broken down into simpler bits that even children can learn. So if you want to learn how to teach children to read music, here are major topics to teach them and tips on doing so.

  1. The Staff. Composed of five horizontal lines, the staff is the base of musical notations. For children, they might associate this to the lines in their writing notebooks. It basically follows the same principle, and so, it a good starting point. Children learn and remember better when you associate difficult or unfamiliar concepts to those they already know and like. So be sure to make the strange familiar to them as you go along and teach your little one how to read music.

  2. The Clefs. The lines and spaces on a staff represent specific pitches, and what each represent depends on the clef. There are two main ones: the treble and bass clef. To help kids remember the symbols, you can make the clefs into characters and give them names like “Mr. Treble” or “Mr. Bass.”

  3. The Notes. The notes reflect the pitch. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch, and the higher up they are on a staff. Thanks to the movie ‘The Sound of Music,” the do-re-mi song is familiar enough that kids can easily remember it. If they haven’t seen it yet, go ahead and let them watch it. It can teach them to love music as well as help them with your music lessons.

    When they’ve got the entire scale down (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do), it’s now time to teach them where they’re written on the staff. You can teach them that a letter represents each note. This is where mnemonic devices come in handy. For the treble staff for example, children can remember the notes E, G, B, D, and F with the phrase Every Good Boy Does Fine. These are written on the lines of the staff. The spaces are the notes F, A, C, and E, which spells “face” and is easy enough to remember.

  4. The Duration. Now, every note is played for a specific duration. You can start with the quarter, half, and whole note. You can use a diagram to explain it better to children that a whole note is made up of two half notes and a half note is made up of two quarter notes and so on and so forth.

    One effective technique in teaching this to children is to draw faces on the notes with a specific emotion like the whole note would look happy, the half note angry, and the quarter sad and so on so that kids can better remember and differentiate them. Tap the duration and rhythm with your feet so they can hear the differences.

Those are simple concepts in musical notation, and if they can get that down, they will be able to read simple musical compositions with practice. Remember that when it comes to learning how to teach children to read music, they learn best by association between unfamiliar concepts to ones they like and are used to. Happy teaching!


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