help to support
Let's Have Another
a book of rounds to sing and play, edited for Suzuki strings students by
A small child can learn to recognize the four rhythms of the Twinkle
Variations visually just as many children learn to read a small vocabulary
of "sight words" even before understanding phonics. (Any word
you register instantly without puzzling it out is a "sight word,"
whether or not you first learned it phonetically.
• Tap the rhythm on each card, touching each note
head (the round part) once, as you say the words of the rhythm. Much later, you reach the stage of "sounding it out,"
that laborious process of figuring out why some sounds are shorter
than others, part of the phonics of music. If at first, kids experience
the sight of that cluster of eighth and sixteenth notes in the same
way they experience "STOP" on the big red sign, don't
worry that they're "skipping" phonics. They're just storing
up images that will prove useful when they get to the business of
puzzling out the details.
• Pick up a card and name it (e.g. "motorcycle
putt putt"); ask the child to find another card that looks
the same. Play the rhythm on castanets or other rhythm instrument.
(This is the game we use most often.)
• Use the cards for a game of Concentration.
When the child turns up two cards. speak and tap the rhythm of each
card. (They, of course will be more interested in a quick read on
"who wins," so it's up to the adult to keep the rhythm
in the game.
• Print a double set (4 cardsof each rhythm) to play
• For a parent-designed game using the same flashcards for
a 3 1/1 year old, click here.
• By the end of Book 1, it's even more useful to have a mental
stash of rhythm "sight words." While a child is learning
May Song, use a blank card to write the May Song beginning rhythm
(dotted quarter, eighth, two quarters.) Tap the note heads in rhythm,
and then air bow the rhythm. Have the child look at May Song in
the book and count how many times that pattern occurs in the piece,
no matter how high or low. Without the book, play the song and have
the child count how many times she hears the rhythm. Use the same
process for other pieces to build a sight vocabulary of rhythm patterns.
When (years later) you get to the point of sight reading, you don't
have time to "sound it out," any more than you have time
to sound out every "the" you run across in a book.
Please note: I do NOT recommend teaching
the child to read while playing
in Book 1. We do all the above activities away from the instrument.
For instance, when kids have begun to read the treble clef notes, I routinely have them read early pieces to me while I play what they read. If they say a "wrong note," they giggle and correct themselves. Their instruments are set aside at these times.
The only note reading exercise on this page that I do with instruments
in hand is the following:
• For an extention of rhythm flash card use, display
one card at a time for the group to play either on their violins or
on rhythm instruments.
And the next level is......
When you have that down and are still using the best
possible posture and movement (don't expect mastery the first time
you do the exercise), have the leader (typically a parent) flip
the cards in such a way that the rhythm you are playing is the one
that just disappeared, and the rhythm you are looking at is the
one you will play. This "looking ahead" is the
link between memorizing and sight reading. See the reading readiness
game "Who Ran Away" for a lead
up activity for new and becoming readers.
And the next level is......
No earlier than Book 2, I will play the same hide-and-play game with kids reading a piece on a technical level well below their current "new piece." I place a card near the first measure, and whey they signal me that they have memorized that measure, I cover it. The understood rule is that as they begin to play the next measure, I cover it as well. This exercise is best when they have alrady done something similar to the level described above.
For a reading teacher's take on note reading, see Reading
One family's method
of using the cards:
1) We have used the cards as flash cards. I show
a card to Mary and she has to "read" it, i.e., say whether
it's Mississippi hot dog or go kitty, go kitty etc.
2) I ask Mary to find two matching cards. The cards
are face up.
3) Mary shows me a card and I play the rhythm on
while saying what it is.
4) I play a rhythm, say "Mississipi Hot Dog"
and ask Mary
to identify what I am playing.
We take turns playing 1 and 2, but not 3 or 4 (at
least not yet).
I find that 3 and 4 really help Mary to recognize
that there are different rhythms and what those rhythms are. It also helps her to listen carefully at what is being played. After playing this game she recognized that the same thing was being
played on the Suzuki CD. Before that I think the CD was just background
music for her.
* contributed by Murielle Hsu.
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