Every Good Boy Does Fine

Did you learn mnemonics for notes growing up? I did. Every Good Boy, Great Big Diamonds, All Cows Eat, and so on.

No matter how well you know your mnemonics, you can’t really read music. It’s a transitional phase. It’s like a five-year-old starts out sounding every letter to figure out what a word says. Knowing how every letter sounds is an important step, but it’s not the end of the journey. By age seven she’s got hundreds of words she recognizes by sight. That’s fluency.

I personally didn’t achieve musical fluency until college. It was not a priority in my high school choir, and frankly, I didn’t understand that knowing the mnemonics wasn’t reading music!

It’s possible, and important, to bring our students all the way to fluency. Perhaps we’d be served well by looking to kindergarten teachers for strategies. Because my sophomore who knows his mnemonics is really a kindergarten music reader.

I love using musictheory.net or their Tenuto app – the sorts of drills they offer are what a kid needs to build his language.

What strategies do you use to get from basic knowledge to comprehensive?


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