I encourage my children to pursue whatever creative dreams they have. They recently each expressed an interest in signing up for piano and guitar lessons. I know their music instructors will guide them along, helping them build a strong foundation in the instrument they choose to play. But I also want to be able to encourage them myself, at home. My music knowledge is limited to a few years of childhood piano lessons, so I picked out a book that prepares students for music reading readiness. Ready to Read Music by Jay Althouse, is just what we needed to guide us through the learning process.
Mr. Althouse begins his book with the premise that most students are ill prepared for their first encounter with printed music. I agree: those pages of notes can seem quite daunting at first glance! He explains that music is a language and just as with any language you are trying to learn, you start with the basics. Once you know the symbols that make up the language, you can comfortably expand your knowledge.
Ready to Read Music is compiled of four units of study, made up of eight lessons each. Most of the lessons are one page in length, followed by a review at the end of each lesson. It was great using a book because I made copies of each lesson and put them in notebooks for the children. This helps keep track of where each child is in their lessons and also keeps my copy of the book clean for any future education! I even went a step farther and made copies of the music symbols to put up on the bulletin board in our playroom. You could even make flashcards to get in some extra lessons on the go.
We began with the first unit of study, an introduction to the musical staff and notes. I like how each page is laid out in a simple manner with clear black and white graphics that make it easy to focus on the lesson. At the end of each lesson is a chance to reinforce what you’ve learned with a question or two. I use the review page at the end of the unit as a quick assessment tool that shows me which concepts we need to spend more time on. The remaining units cover additional musical concepts with increasing difficulty, such as rhythm, pitch, and a final chapter presenting more musical symbols. Mr. Althouse has a great way of relating every day things to reading music. For example, my children quickly internalized the idea that, just like each pulse of your heart, music has a steady pulse and each pulse of music is a beat.
By the end of Ready to Read Music, both of my children can read notes, follow rhythms and are familiar with most of the musical symbols.They feel more confident about learning guitar and piano now and are excited to get started with lessons. As they advance in playing their instruments, I know they will continue to come up against new and complicated musical concepts. Ready to Read Music will be right here, as a guide to reinforce their music education for many years to come.
Would you like to try it for yourself? You can get your own copy here: Ready to Read Music