Saturday, May 18, 2013

Teaching Young Children How to Read Music

More piano teacher craziness here.

In continuing with my recent post about my brave decision to become my kidlets' PIANO TEACHER (you can read about it HERE), and the ONLINE RESOURCES (I've Pinned them HERE)

Today I'm sharing with you one idea I had that has helped me teach my 5 year old.

So I was having trouble Baby Girl how the notes worked on the Grand Staff.  In other words, how to READ music.  She understood how the notes went on the actual keyboard, but adding onto that idea with the black notes on paper was NOT connecting in her brain.

I found this great idea on The Teaching Studio Blog where she made a GIANT GRAND STAFF!  Perfect!  Baby Girl just needed a visual, hands-on lesson about it . . . so that's how this idea was born.  I hope it helps someone else out there.

 I found this cheap pack of cardboard animals on clearance after Valentine's Day (any animals or characters will do).  I gave each animal a name that corresponded with the letter of their note.  I also tried to match the type of animal to the note name.
So we had:
Cici the Cat (Middle C)
Drooper the Dog (D)
Electron the Robot (E) . . . I didn't have an E animal
Freddy the Frog (F)
Gerti the Gorilla (G)
Annie the Alligator (A) . . . even tho it looks like a lizard!
Bitty the Bug (B)

I used painter's tape to make lines across my area rug for the staff.  I told Baby Girl that each line or space was an animal's house.  There was a C house for Cici the Cat and so on.  The animals could NOT leave their houses, BUT they could move anywhere along that line or space of their house.  And if the animals moved to different places along their houses they would make a different song.
I then let Baby Girl play with the animals and move them along their lines (homes).  Then we played the songs that she created.  I showed her how the animal (or note) that was closest to the end was played first, and then the next one and so on.   And finally it clicked for her!  We played with these animals for quite a few lessons until it solidified in her brain.

Another tip:
I use candy to bribe my kidlets to be good during the lesson--NOT A SHOCKER, I know.  Instead of giving them a lot of candy, though, I decided to make it a fun way to get the candy.  I use this:

 I actually found this at the Dollar Tree.  A rare find.  I haven't seen them since.  I fill it with Sour Balls (something they rarely have) and if they are good they get 3.  If they are super good, they get 4.  I can take them away too.  I can also fill this with M & Ms and other small candy for variety.  THEY LOVE THAT IT'S IN A GUMBALL MACHINE (there's just something about a gumball machine . . .).

I also use a lot of stickers to motivate them.  And I keep track of all their songs in a little notebook.  Just basic ideas.  I'm not super organized, so that's about as good as it gets for me.

I hope this inspires you to teach your kids something cool and make it fun!

Share your great teaching tips with us!


  1. wow, that is really cool and smart babe.
    I have NO musical talent at I'm in awe

    1. Oh I'm sure you do! Every mom had something cool they can teach their kids whether they are experts or not!

  2. Yay for teaching kids music! I hand it to you for being dedicated enough to do that, and for finding good ideas to help them! I would love to hear them play when we come.

    1. Abbey I wish you were here to teach them! I'm sure I'm missing a lot of main concepts, but I figure it's better than nothing. They'd like to play for you.

  3. I absolutely LOVE this idea! I'm a singer & know how to find notes on the piano, but I can't play... Maybe I'll have to teach myself using the resources you shared in your other post! I want to teach my kidlets how to read music, but didn't think I would be able to start that so early. Thanks! Pinned this (:

    1. Oh you can do it! I'm amazed at all the tutorials and helps there are on the Internet for almost any subject!

  4. Thank you so much for your blog. I stumbled upon it today. I'm starting to teach my 5 year old daughter piano, which is basically what I vowed *not* to do, but she refused to cooperate with her private piano teacher and requested that I teach her instead. (I am not sure why she wouldn't work with the piano teacher, probably some social anxiety or shyness even though she is great with her schoolteachers). Ugh. I really didn't want to teach my daughter because I didn't want that mother-daughter dynamic to spill over into music lessons. I am a near-professional pianist who quit due to a hand injury and I just didn't want to put that kind of pressure my daughter, who already has a tendency to oppose any of my suggestions.

    Anyhow, your blog gives me hope that we can make this fun!! So thank you! -- Cindy

    1. Oh my heavens! Yes I totally understand. Teaching our own kids can be the hardest thing ever. I have definitely found so many good resources online to help me make it fun for her. Sometimes it goes well, and sometimes I still have to go into "teacher mode" and push her to keep going. Anyway, it's working for now. Good luck!


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