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Why Kids Struggle with Music Reading

Dear Subscribers,

A number of life's many distractions has necessitated my absence from NoteSense education and promotion, but it's time to get back on track! I heard from a teacher recently who shared that their struggling student had learned to read a musical piece on their own after a school-year dedicated to learning through the NoteSense Music Reading Program. It can seem miraculous to watch a student achieve ownership of their reading after having watched them struggle, but structured multi-sensory education can be the solution!

Why do some children struggle with reading music? The source of the struggle related to learning differences can vary, but research shows that structured learning offers real solutions for a variety of learning differences. I'm going to address this over time in more detail, but today I want to focus on the way the music reading is generally taught that can be problematic.

We know that good pedagogy contain certain components: we begin with the simplest concepts, and build one step at a time on each previous concept accomplished. We know that each person learns at a different rate, and that good pedagogy respects the student's rate of progress, whether slower that average, or faster than average. We know that adequate repetition is essential for learning and retention of new information. We know that good teaching follows a logical structure, and is explicit in its presentation of knowledge.

What happens in music reading instruction? Rarely does music reading instruction follow the conditions outlined above. And this occurs for good reason - generally, music reading is taught as an addendum to learning to play and instrument or sing. The "activity" of making music supersedes the necessity of reading music. When music reading is relegated to the second tier of the learning process, it is forced to follow the logical instructional order of making music instead of reading music. It might seem like a small thing, but it has huge consequences for those brains which need a logical, structured learning style such as dyslexic brains, brains that are dyscalculic (math learning difficulty), short term or working memory learning issues, or focus issues related to ADHD,

When learning to read music is forced to follow the structure of the easiest way to learn to PLAY music, learning-differenced brains aren't getting the structured, ordered learning that they so desperately need.

I will begin looking at this issue in more detail in future posts. Please share this information with teachers and parents, and even friends who might have had their own struggles with reading music!

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