One of the things that I really wanted to work on this year with my students was building their sight-reading skills. This was a key objective that I took into consideration when planning this year’s practice incentive. With the help of Susan Paradis’ Notes in the Fast Lane worksheets, I am seeing some great improvement in this area!
I made multiple copies of each level and placed them in sheet protectors in a notebook. One of the Cosmic Challenges that the students can select each week is “Speed Notes.” In order to pass that Cosmic Challenge, the two levels that they take home must be played the following week with 100% accuracy. Yes, the student actually gets to practice the worksheet all week long! The notes are random enough that even those with really good ears find it almost impossible to play back the patterns by ear even after a week of practice. But for the rare student who actually does memorize the pattern, I just randomly select the lines for them to play. After the initial shock of me making such a request, we find out if the student is really reading the notes or not. 🙂
One of the reasons I really like these worksheets is because while the notes are random, they are also placed in the context of a grand staff where the student can still have some sense of intervallic (or at least directional) relationships between notes. This is an aspect of sight-reading that is lost when only individual note flash cards are used.
I’m doing several other things to help build sight-reading skills, but this is proving to be one of the most helpful so far. Plus, the students love the challenge associated with it and are eager to get through as many levels as they can!