Creator of Playing with Colour – Sharon Goodey BA(Hons), ALCM, LTCL
How the books came about:
I was originally motivated to write this material in an effort to help a small minority of children (frequently dyslexic) who struggled with their piano lessons and often progressed extremely slowly or gave up after just a few terms. It became clear that their problems were not related to difficulties in playing but in learning to understand the notation. Conventional teaching methods were not adequate for these children. A system of ‘child friendly’ notation was needed that would naturally progress towards a full understanding of conventional notation.
The results I achieved using the books:
Once I had put all my ideas into book form and had started to use the material I found that the results I was achieving far exceeded all expectations. I found that books 2 and 3 acted as a boost of adrenalin to all youngsters who had been learning with conventional material. Those children who did not appear to be struggling with notation enjoyed the feeling that they were learning new pieces with much more ease. Many of them began to follow the music much more attentively. They also became more focused during lessons because the lesson time could be devoted to improving their playing rather than spending a great deal of time learning new pieces. One very noticeable advantage is that the children can identify and correct their own errors far more easily because the coloured notes offer them instant feedback if a note sounds incorrect. This tends to make practice sessions at home easier. Parents are able to take more of a supportive role than an active one. When children progress to conventional notation they feel much more comfortable and confident with their sight-reading ability.
How the books accelerate learning:
Book One was initially designed to be used with children who might have problems with conventional music. It seemed likely that, by simplifying the learning process, the brighter children might be slowed down in the same way that over-dependence on the use of finger numbers can hinder progress. In fact the opposite was the case. I found that the understanding of the basic principles and concepts of notation develop quicker in children of all abilities. This is due to the fact that the children focus all their attention on the notes themselves and do not develop their own strategies for learning new music, such as memory and guess-work. Every teacher has experienced the frustration of the very talented youngster, with a brilliant memory, who refuses to follow the music and therefore struggles with sight-reading. These youngsters find it so easy to follow the coloured music that reading the music becomes the easy option rather than the last resort.
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