How robots can help with note reading

“All my students are now thoroughly addicted! The games are fantastic!”

Music teacher

Do you have any students who struggle with note reading? Every week you ask them what that note is in their music and they look at you blankly – or just guess.

When I was learning (back in the olden days!) my teacher did lots of note drilling. This was sometimes in the form of paper flashcards or those short stories where you fill in the notes to make words (I absolutely loved those!) and we also did loads of sight-reading, including fun duets.

Have you ever thought about how you learnt to read music? Or perhaps it’s a bit like when you learnt to actually read (books) as a child, and you can’t remember. The process happened gradually.

There are all kinds of things going on in the background as we learn to interpret the music symbols on the page – things that we possibly don’t realise are happening. This might include spotting patterns, understanding intervals and how notes relate to each other, and using our ears and hearing the sound in our mind.

It’s like a recipe where we add all kinds of ingredients – and all those ingredients eventually work together to make someone who can read, understand and play music.

One ingredient is definitely the ability to see a note and immediately recognise it. A bit like if someone puts an object in front of me and I know straightaway it’s a cup of tea or that thing flying in the sky is a bird. As teachers we ideally want that recognition of a note to be instant.

This is why I created my customisable games pack for teachers, Flashcard Fun. I wanted something where the teacher could adapt the notes to each individual student. So if Sarah only knows three notes or Ben has learnt the whole stave, I can drag those notes into position to drill them (or even practice interval reading) to suit the student.

Some of the games have draggable notes, like Apple Rocket and Pharaoh Fred, and others have in-built notes, such as Hot Chilli and Stone Age Bingo. An important part of the learning process is for students to not only be able to name the note, but to write it too. This is where a game like Sleepy Robots is invaluable and includes an online scribble pad with blank stave for getting them to draw any note you wish.

The game itself is lots of fun. Students play as ‘Sneaky Stan’ and find themselves in a factory on a conveyor belt. The only way out is to get past the Sleepy Robots without waking them up.

Find out more about Flashcard Fun here (and if you are looking to focus further on reading you might like Beginner Reader which includes games with five draggable notes making them perfect for mini sight-reading exercises). Let me know if you have any questions.

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