Reply To: Teaching Note Reading in Orchestra
I just recently had to do a Strings Research Project and one of the tasks was to research several beginning method book. I know Music Directors use the same method book year after year, but if one isn’t working, why not change it up? “String Explorer” was an excellence resource. The first couple pages include just repetition on a single open string. Although it doesn’t begin with the students viewing a staff, it jumps into having them memorize the strings and get familiar with rhythm. On following pages, the book focuses on “Exploring G”, etc. This gets the students working on notes over and over again to ensure they know it! This method book has a lot of “fun activities” that gets students involved. I insist you to check it out!
I would never encourage the students to rely on writing the pitch letter above the notes. I would break the students of this habit immediately! When I was a beginning student on the violin, my teacher would create “note name flashcards”. Each day we would begin with this exercise. Although it was a challenge at first, I soon got the hang of it. After a few weeks with the flashcards, my teacher expanded to the chalkboard. He would write different pitches on a staff and divid the class into equal teams. We would line up and once he called a letter, we would quickly run to the board and find the note on the staff. This got us thinking and remembering fast! You may think it will take up rehearsal time, but knowing the basics to music is important for beginners.
If students are still having problems, there is always the option of encouraging private lessons.
With repetition and concentration, your students will be able to recognize notes easily.