Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Copywork To Correct Reading Problems?

I'm trying an experiment. I have a couple of students who are good practicers and who both have an exceptionally good ear but are challenged with their music reading. They play music more from what their muscle memory feels like and what their ear expects to hear than what they see on the page. Both know all of their lines and spaces very well, so knowledge of notes isn't a problem. However, when one of them sees a passage in their music that contains a sequence (the pattern repeats starting on a different note, often only a step away), they simply see the shape of the figure and play it again without shifting to the new position. They also tend not to notice when a pattern repeats but has one small difference, such as ending in a skip instead of a step.

It occurred to me one day that there might be a very simple, old-fashioned way to address the problem:  copywork.

I'm not asking them to copy entire pieces, or even entire lines of music. I'm just asking them to copy the notes of the offending section onto manuscript paper. I took a few minutes of a lesson to teach them how to mark notes quickly (without drawing circles and filling them in) and to space them out neatly. Both students were actually eager to write music on their own manuscript paper!

I think this will slow them down and force them to focus on the visual notation before they start to practice and end up "reading" the piece incorrectly.  I'll let you know how it works! Have any of you ever dealt with this problem?


Bev said...

I have a couple of students like that. You helped me "articulate" the problem. They too know their lines and spaces but seem to play whatever they want. I'm going to give your idea a try. Please let me know if you come up with other ideas

Adrian said...

Nice Blog, it would be nice to learn to read music. I am doing too much by ear.