If your student struggled with reading notes and you resorted to The Easier Piano Book and successfully finished it, keep reading on... this post is written especially for you.
In case you haven't downloaded the book, here is a FREE copy for you to download and try. I have achieved great results with my students who previously struggled with reading music:
The following tips will help you make the tricky transition smooth and successful:
1. Wait until your student is ready to read music...make sure you have your foundation secure and revisit a few concepts if the student is not confident with any one of the following:
Identifying the notes on the piano with ease. Can your student find the G's E's and so on without hesitation?
Using all fingers and able to play with correct finger most of the time.
Is able to play with both hands, not necessarily simultaneously.
Is able to plays to correct rhythm.
Is able to follow the score with her eyes without the need of you pointing to the notes all of the time.
Has good sense of rhythm and easily claps and taps to music.
Is able to sit through and play a short song.
2. Choose your method book carefully:
Keep in mind that you don't have to use the same method book for all of your students. Be flexible and use the best method book that suits the specific needs for every student.
However, it is helpful if you look for a method book that has the following features:
Big clear font. You want your student to be able to clearly see the staff and the direction the notes are moving, up and down. It takes a little bit longer for some students to understand the concept that although the notes look the same, the position is what makes the difference. A big clear font will make this more clearer and faster.
Introduces the new notes and concepts slowly with a lot of reenforcement. If your favorite method book does not repeat as much as you would like to, and at the same time you prefer to stick to it, create some supplementary material yourself as necessary. If you are short on time, you can find a lot online.
Uses a fixed hand position - at least at the beginning. You want all the student's focus and energy on understanding the staff and not worrying which finger goes where and when.
3. Insist that the student sings the names of the notes while playing them:
This may seem unimportant, but singing the names of the notes helps the student in these ways
Keeps the student focused on the task of reading and she will less likely lose her place on the page or to play from memory or day dream.
Help the student maintain rhythm.
Helps the student understand the direction of notes on the staff and associate it with pitch.
Develop's the student's ability to sing to correct pitch.
4. Don't write the note names on the sheet music and don't use the "Every Good Boy Deserves Fun and FACE" method:
This way of thinking about notes is abstract, unmusical and slow because it has no consideration to the musical direction and how each note relates to the next.
Moreover, Writing the notes names is probably the worst thing you can do if you are trying to teach your student how to read music. When we play the piano we do not read A, B, C and so on, we are actually reading intervals and patterns moving up and down the staff. If you have letter names on the sheet, you will prevent your student from acquiring this complex skill and instead she will keep reading letters instead.
5. The path may not be a straight line:
The road to success is not necessarily a straight line. Most probably, it won't be a straight line since your student was struggling in the first place expect things not to go very smooth at the beginning.