Experiencing Progress

Well, I’ve brought in an expert this week, my talented 14-year-old niece. I couldn’t be more proud of her for not only setting aside time in her busy schedule to work with me (and my daughter) but having the patience to fine-tune some of the issues I have been experiencing. As Brooke identified in the comments of my last post, it is sometimes easier to have an “instructor present to help you through the struggles or to ask questions and receive immediate feedback.” I couldn’t agree more with this for my situation.

First off, she gave me praise for a number of things that I have been doing correctly, which helped build my confidence (proper fingering, posture, and rhythm). Then she gave me a few tips to help with my embouchure, breathing, and tonguing. However, the most useful tip was learning how to better breath into the instrument. I was trying to blow down into the reed rather than across it through the center of my lips. I also put a bit too much pressure on the reed which restricts the ability for the air to pass through, and in turn, forces me to have to work harder to blow air past the reed. What a relief!

Lastly, she became my ultimate musical hero when she explained to me how to read sheet music. I knew this had to take this on as there aren’t any tablatures (from what I could find) for clarinet as they are usually meant for stringed instruments. So alas, I had to dive into reading sheet music. To my amazement, there is a way to remember both the notes on the lines and notes in the spaces. For notes on the lines, the following acronym can be used:

Every
Good
Boy
Deserves
Fudge

Retrieved from Teaching Ideas

There are also other versions such as Every Good Boy Does Fine, or Every Good Boy Deserves Fun. I’ve chosen the first one as I instantly visualize a cute little chubby kid indulging in chocolate.

For notes within the spaces, it spells the word FACE.

Retrieved from Teaching Ideas

With these two ways to memorize reading notes, I just need to put in the time so that it becomes natural and easy. Therefore, I searched out some resources to help me practice. One resource I already had is the Standard of Excellence book that my daughter uses each day. I’m starting to understand it’s value in the step-by-step introduction and practice of specific notes in order. There are a number of small numbers that I can play and practice. My plan is to dive into this more this week.

With these two ways to memorize reading notes, I just need to put in the time so that it becomes natural and easy. Therefore, I searched out some resources to help me practice. One resource I already had is the Standard of Excellence book that my daughter uses each day. I’m starting to understand it’s value in the step-by-step introduction and practice of specific notes in order. There are a number of small numbers that I can play and practice. My plan is to dive into this more this week.

I also came across a note reading Mad Minute! How awesome is that!?! Several Mad Minute test competitions with my daughter and we’ll both come out victorious (hopefully).

Retrieved from Denise Gagne

Lastly, I came across this website for kids (or beginner adults) called Music Play I’ve set up an account and have found a few activities that allow me to practice more memorization of reading treble clef sheet music.

Well, with this week’s sessions focused on fixing a few flaws and finding some good resources to help me read music, I think I have my week of practicing set up for me.

Stay tuned!

7 thoughts on “Experiencing Progress

  1. Awesome! Love the progress this week and working with your daughter to practice note reading. MusicPlay and Denise Gagne are very well respected in the arts ed world and great resources- I use their stuff all the time and my students love the game options. Keep it up!

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  2. I’m so happy to hear about your progress! I agree with you, having an instructor to give you feedback, answer all your questions and provide guidance is crucial. It is funny that I use the same acronyms in piano (right hand). Thank you for sharing the BAGE Mad Minutes. I will be practicing with those activities too, to help me speed up my reading sheet music.
    Enjoy the journey! 🙂

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  3. Oh my gosh, the “every good boy deserves fudge” thing really took me back! I taught classical guitar for ten years, and boy, I’m reading your blog with interest! I had a few adult students, and I found that they really learned things sort of differently (lol, to be honest, they were slower learners compared to most kids), so I’m following your story with interest.

    It is so great that you brought your niece in to help you out, what a great way to build your confidence, but also to allow her to be the expert and help you out! What a great aunt!

    Awesome!

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  4. It’s interesting to see that some old tricks (Every good boy deserves fudge and FACE) are still floating around today. That must be due to their effectiveness! Sight reading is truly a great feat in terms of having the ability to pick up a new sheet of music and play what’s in front of you. The more you practice a specific song, the easier reading that song will become. You’re lucky to have your daughter be able to explain breathing/blowing techniques to make practicing easier. Looks like you’re on the right track!

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  5. Pingback: The Piano Project: Week 6- Getting There…

  6. Pingback: The Piano Project: Week 7- Experience Fuels the End Result

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