Around the end of one year and the beginning of another, I always spend a little time reflecting on what has shaped my life up to now as well as how to improve in the new year. In this New Year I am placing Noteimals growth at the top of my list. That decision caused me to reflect honestly on what lead to the creation of the Animal Notes method in the first place.
When I went to college, I chose to get a degree in High School Education rather than Music. I liked working with young people, and my Dad, who I really admired, had been a truly great teacher in his life time. I had one teacher in my junior year that I also looked up to. She inspired me to learn and to strive to be the best possible. During the two semesters I took classes with her, she repeated one thought over and over in many different ways, but the message was always “LOUD and CLEAR.” “If your students are not doing well, are not passing tests or taking part in class, you as their teacher need to look at how you are teaching and what you can do to get your information across to every student in you class, not just your quick learners. Be creative; don’t be afraid to do something out of the norm. Every individual is uniquely created and may take something unique to help them learn.”
That I ended up teaching music was, and still is a surprise to me. However, I love it and my student’s success bring me great joy. When I first started, several of my students quit because note reading was so difficult for them to learn, and this really upset me. My college professor’s words echoed in my head, and I felt like I was failing as a teacher. There had to be a way. Gradually I started telling stories about why each note was located where it was. These stories centered around natural animal activities. I even drew ears, eyes, horns and/or tails on the standard notes. It was working and I stopped losing students. Hurrah, I was making progress, maybe I wasn’t a complete failure after all!:)
Then I was asked to teach a child with multiple learning disabilities. It was important to his teachers, doctors, and parents that he learn the piano as they all felt strongly it would help him with his problems and strengthen his mind. He could not learn by stories alone so I created songs for him by drawing notes on the Grand Staff. It worked! A year later I was asked to attend his evaluation by those involved in this problem as he was moving to another city. Everyone there was amazed and delighted with his progress. All or them felt piano was truly making a difference. I sent his music with his parents praying that his next music teacher would accept this creativity and continue helping him learn. I never heard, but I would love to know as he was really a special young man.
Soon after this, one of my piano Moms encouraged me to create books of the materials I had been using. Her children were learning with them too and so loved what they were doing.
Do I regret a moment of the struggles and work? NO! Do I love this methods success ratio, YES! I sincerely encourage you to give it a try. Why? Because children like it, they can and do succeed and you, as a teacher will feel the reward of their success. It is a terrific feeling.
If you are a parent reading this, and your child is struggling with note reading, suggest to your child’s teacher that she try this method for your child as you want him/her to succeed.