Have you ever helped a student play the recorder?

Dysgraphia Awareness, Motor Dysgraphia, Motor Planning, Teachers, Visual Perception | 0 comments

Written by Cheri Dotterer

February 10, 2020

I have a third-grade student in one of my cyber schools. Mom asked me if I knew anything about music. Well, yes. I know the basics of Music Theory. How would I translate them to understanding for this student?

Doing a task analysis of reading music. A person reads rhythm from left to right and pitch value from bottom to top in the staff.

Like reading from a book, there is a similar progression to reading music. Music exposure begins with phonological awareness and phonics melody. Think about “Mary had a Little Lamb.” The first exposure you had to this song was someone else singing it to you. If you learned to play an instrument, it was likely one of the first songs that you learned.

Before you learned how to read a song, you needed to learn basic music vocabulary and images. Like reading fluency, music fluency came when you played the song with ease. Putting everything together and holding the rhythm and playing the right notes properly and understanding everything as a unit is music comprehension.

These beginning steps were taught in the first several pages of the student’s music book. He understood the quarter, half and whole notes and how many beats they are valued.  However, his comprehension of the notes on the staff was a bit more challenging. To try to help him simplify the song, we agreed to place the fingering for the pitch on the music in a color that represented the beat length. Our color pattern was like the Size Matters Handwriting Program which we have been reviewing.

Adapting the Size Matters Handwriting Program, we agreed that whole notes were pink, half notes were orange, and quarter notes were blue. That is the same color coding as Size 1, 2, 3 letters. We will need to add more colors when he reaches eighth and sixteenth notes.

After he understood the rhythms, he had to then move bottom to the top of the scale. Learning Every – good – boy – does – fine and F-A-C-E added an additional dimension. Visual processing speed is required to read the note and rhythm values. Motor processing incorporates bilateral integration at the midline to motor plan the fingering and oral-motor integration to breathe effectively to make the proper sound. Deficits in Control – Accuracy – Precision – Speed (CAPS) will make playing the recorder difficult.

Socially, he told me when he had his limit of the music. We stopped for the day. Another sensory issue is the sound of the recorder. He does not tolerate it well.

Did you know that every instrument has a timbre (pronounced tambər) is the sound that the instrument creates? The timbre of the recorder is noxious to my student. Between the visual perception, motor planning, and timbre; my student is having difficulty with this class.

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