Learning to listen
A few features have been used to encourage listening at the earliest stages. In book 1 a few titles are left blank and the child is asked to invent a title. The intention is to prompt a few minutes of listening and discussion between the child and the teacher.
Children are also encouraged to memorise pieces. The amount of memorising clearly needs to be tailored to each individual. But generally this offers a very good indication of whether children are really listening to their playing. The other advantage is that this gives a very specific task for the child to achieve during their practice. Children who begin playing in a very mechanical way, with very poor fluency, will generally improve their playing enormously if they learn to play from memory. Memorising also encourages children to identify patterns in the music that may otherwise not be noticed.
Many teachers are nervous about asking their students to memorise music in the belief that their sight-reading will suffer as a result. This is not the case when using Playing With Colour. Sight-reading develops much more easily and in a more natural way, partly because of the methods used and partly because children find it so easy to read and follow the music that they tend to do so more automatically. Therefore, learning a few pieces from memory does not encourage them to use this as a strategy for avoiding note reading at other times. Playing from memory is not the easy option that it often becomes when using conventional music. Reading by colour is actually far easier.