41. The Music Alphabet on The Grand Staff
The next step to fluent reading is to place the note alphabet on the staves. And then, on the keys. I added a simple picture to each note that phonetically calls forth its name: Do: Door; Re: Rain cloud; Mi: Mirror; Fa: Farm; Sol: Salt Shaker; La: Ladder; Ti: Teacup. Then, the music staff became a true map, arranged between the notes and the keys.
The pictures evoke an already familiarized skill of perception, and the music notation becomes a logical extension of this skill. The music alphabet, in turn, becomes a support for the understanding of the coordination of the system of notes’ location.
Having ‘survived’ this transformation, the grand staff is easily understandable to any beginner. From an abstract system, it has been transformed into a clear and logical ABC “book” that is completely suitable for the very first reading, playing, and singing of a song.
After all, people are not born musicians. The ability to allocate notes on the grand staff requires extensive training. To test this out, I made a big poster with thick black lines and asked my students to place red and blue ‘note’ circles on it in order. The preschoolers didn’t immediately learn to alternate the red and blue circles on their corresponding lines and spaces! More often than not, they skipped the spaces completely, placing the alternating circles only on the lines. And only after regular training did they learn to read both the lines and the spaces without skipping a single one. Older kids mastered this exercise a little more quickly, but the majority of them didn’t understand the logic behind the lines and spaces at once. It took a little time.
Later, we developed a special computer game named “Fruit Lines,” which develops the student’s orientation of the lines and spaces with the help of graphics and interactivity.
Only a note's certain position among the lines makes it a note! Because of this, the ability to quickly orient oneself among the lines of the staves is one of the most important visual skills. Without it, a quick understanding of the music text is absolutely unthinkable.