If you haven’t already seen it, I encourage you to check out this excellent series of posts by Dr. Julie Knerr (one of the creators of the fabulous Piano Safari method!) on how to train students to be “Super Awesome Sight Readers.” This inspires me to remain dedicated to the process of guiding my students to become confident, excellent sight-readers!
Here’s a quick link to the posts along with my favorite quote from each one:
Part 1: It Takes A Long Time!
“It takes an average of three years of diligent work for children to become confident music readers. This means that as we work with students on their reading skill week after week, month after month, we should not become disheartened if a child who has been playing for a year or two still needs help to analyze and decode a piece or a sight reading card.”
Part 2: False Assumptions
“It is so important to lay the foundation correctly when developing a student’s relationship to the notated score!”
“Reading music is a complex skill that requires not only knowledge of note names, but an incredible amount of spatial awareness on the page and in the hands, combined with rhythm in real time. “
“Valuable insight into the student’s thought process can be gained by occasionally asking the student to be the teacher and explain to you how to play a piece.”
“Repetition builds confidence and fluency.”
(Also, I love the idea of contour stories!)
Part 6: Ingredient #3 – Rhythm
“Not only can good readers intuitively read any rhythmic pattern immediately, but they have a great sense of the macro rhythm. When reading, they do not feel all the subdivisions. Instead, they are able to feel the large beat and fit all the subdivisions between the large beats almost automatically.”
Part 7: Ingredient #4 – Note Names
“The goal is for students to see a note and know it immediately, just as they see the letter “A” and know it is an “A” immediately.”
(Dr. Knerr uses an approach similar to the NoteStars Challenge that I use with my students.)