Teaching young kids music note reading

Do you have to teach the kids the notes over and over?

Problem: Reading music from multiple staff lines
When learning to read music notes, it is hard, especially for kids, to keep track of which notes go where on the staff lines because having many staff lines is confusing.


Nevertheless staff lines are more useful than ledger lines, the tiny lines added to each note that go beyond the standard five line staff.

Embodiment: Music notation gradual line display & varied line spacing
A beginner learns music notation in the following order. First the middle C is displayed (Fig. 1, 101). Then the first line of the five line staff is displayed allowing the beginner to learn the notes D,E and F as well as the C (102). Then the second line of the five line staff is displayed allowing the beginner to learn the notes G and A in addition to the previous notes (103). This continues until all five staffs are displayed. The staff keys may be displayed as well (104). So far I have discussed one staff but in piano, for example, there are two staffs and the lines of the second staff can be displayed similarly beginning with one line, then two, etc.

The number of lines can be determined when printed, or if displayed electronically, changed with the piece played (if it contains only three neighboring notes the notes can be mapped onto the first line by transposition and remaining lines are not displayed) or changed with a setting as the user becomes more and more advanced. Using transposition, neighboring notes can be moved around as to require just the first line, the first two lines, or all the lines (if one requires that the middle C stays fixed).

If the display is a printed display, the number of lines can be changed with transparent overlaid pages that just display additional lines and it can also be determined by controlling the printer that prints the printed display.

Changing the spacing between the lines also allows for the eye to quicker discern, for example, whether a note is between the 2nd and 3rd lines or between the 3rd and 4th lines. Thus if the spacing between the 3rd and 4th line is a little larger (or smaller) than the spacing between the 2nd and the 3rd lines the eye can more quickly tell the identity of the lines and by extension the position of the notes.

This adjusted spacing can be implemented on an electronic display and allow for the user to decide where the spacing change would occur and how much. These adjustment(s) would also allow for more than five lines being displayed so that the high or low notes that go beyond the five lines can be displayed on lines and fewer tiny ledger lines would be needed.

For example, if six lines are displayed above or below the middle C, the next ledger line would indicate another C – in other words both the middle C and the first ledger line C would look similar making the notes a lot easier to read. If there are a lot of notes on ledger lines, then after the first ledger line C, another staff of 6 lines could be displayed and instead of having one staff with ledger lines there would be two staffs without ledger lines other than the two Cs. All of these embodiments can be implemented with electronic displays and also with electronic controls of printing presses.

Fig. 1 Note line display

By Eugen Tarnow, PhD (MIT)

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