The use of numbered stavesĀ – watch video

The conventional method for teaching children to read and locate the notes of the stave involves a procedure that is quite lengthy for a young child. They must make decisions about whether the note is on a line or in a space, in the treble or in the bass. Then they must choose between four different mnemonics. They will then need to count up the lines with a finger (they can rarely manage this using only the eyes). They not only have to locate this particular key name but also choose which octave. This procedure causes two main problems for very young children. Firstly it gives many opportunities for an error to be made. If children frequently arrive at the wrong note they will lose confidence in the procedure. Secondly, the procedure takes a lot of mental effort and the tendency is often to use it only as a last resort, after guessing, trial and error or asking Mum for help. In Playing With Colour note finding is greatly simplified. Staves are printed with the relevant line number. For example line one is represented by a line of ones, ie. 111111111111111111111111. This avoids the necessity to use the finger to count the lines. The child is shown how to find the lines by learning to jump up or down from Middle C in twos. At this stage it is not necessary to identify notes by their letter names. By using this procedure the process is much quicker and more accurate. It also has the advantage that a direct relationship is being made between the structure of the stave and the keyboard. In this way the child gradually develops a clear concept of the geography of the keyboard and the use of ledger lines is easily understood.

Identifying notes by their letter name, in the traditional way, needs to be taught but this can be delayed until the child is old enough to learn this method more easily. This process can be introduced at a stage that suits each individual.

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