Preparing the ground
We all learn to talk by listening to speech and imitating it. We learn to read by linking the sounds we already know, and can literally hear in our heads, with the written words we see. The ear comes before the eye.
It’s no different with music: music is a language, and it’s much easier to read and understand if it has first been internalized, enabling us to look at it and ‘know how it goes.’ In other words, we need the experience to come first.
The inner ear for music, the way we imagine sound, is best developed through singing, an activity that provides the springboard for all aspects of the Music at Heart Reading Programme.
Singing, reading and the early years
Singing in the Early Years Programme provides a vital foundation for reading music. Our voice is our first musical instrument. Everything learned through singing is learned more thoroughly - think how you can remember song words more easily than you can remember spoken words. Singing is deeply personal: you make the sound. When we sing, we connect with ourselves in a way that talking really can’t do.
Singing trains the musical memory. If you can sing something, it shows that you can visualize it, that the music is really in your bones - and if you can sing it, you will be able to play it when you see it written down! Singing frees pupils from the technical demands of learning an instrument, and those who take up an instrument at a later stage make much faster progress if they have already acquired musicianship skills by singing.
Singing, reading and the recorder
The first book of Suzuki recorder repertoire introduced with the Recorder Programme is a collection of attractive folk songs, all very singable! Beginner recorder pupils learn all these pieces by singing them as well as playing, an activity that always brings much joy to the lessons and gives them a deeper experience of the music behind the notes. Singing in itself helps breath control and develops a better sense of phrasing. When the children then encounter the written music, it is not a foreign language to them, but a familiar one they find easy to read.