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Number Sheets For The Piano

 Number Sheet Example

Number sheets are a way of communicating musical material without using notes and musical notation. Theoretically, numbers can easily substitute for musical notes, temporarily, giving the student a chance to get used to the piano before they embark on a study of reading music.

The reason for this is that reading music, at least for children, is extremely difficult. This is usually due to the lack of coordination between the brain's hemispheres, a problem found to be more prevalent in younger children.  

Lack Of Brain Coordination

It is this lack of coordination that makes sheet music exceedingly difficult for kids to grasp. A far better approach is to use some other "starting method" that avoids musical notation, in the beginning. This allows the child to experience the piano as a toy rather than as a serious adult machine that requires navigating the rather confusing world of musical notation.

Thus an appropriate starting method for younger children might be visual, physical, by number, by color, by ear or any other means that allows the child to play simple music at first rather than decipher the minutiae of sheet music.

Why Numbers Work

Numbers are the best method to get a child started at the piano. The reason for this is that numbers are the first set of symbols, besides the alphabet, with which a child is utterly familiar.

Ask a child of four to recite 1 2 3 4 and they can do so readily. Numbers are one of the first means a child uses to give order to their world: "I want five cookies, I have two sisters, my bike has two wheels."

Numbers Are Relevant To Musical Studies

Numbers do not cease to be useful when a child finally starts to read music. Music is based on numbers, and one is constantly calculating, in many ways, in order to decipher musical notation.

For example, numbers are an integral part of the notational device of "figured bass," a system used in Bach's day as a sort of shorthand to make reading music easier.

 Figured Bass

In the above example, the numbers below the notes are an alternate but musically identical way of expressing the notes above, and in Baroque times, musicians used both notes and numbers to convey a piece of music.

Try A Song With Numbers

Here's POP GOES THE WEASEL using numbers:

| 1 * 1 | 2 * 2 | 3 5 3 | 1 * * |
| 1 * 1 | 2 * 4 | 3 * * | 1 * * |

When To Start Reading Music

Give the child an indefinite period of time to get familiar with the keyboard before introducing musical notation.

When a child seems comfortable with playing simple, familiar songs by number, start introducing reading music in short bits, say, five minutes out of a thirty minute lesson.

This relaxed approach yields excellent results, and almost all kids will eventually get the idea of reading music if you introduce it slowly enough.

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