PPP053: How to Choose Supplemental Music for Your Piano Kid

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If you do a search on Google for “Why to read piano sheet music” you will find lots of blog posts and websites telling you how to read music but not why reading lots of music is so important.

On today’s show, I will share my opinion of why reading music is so important for your child’s musical development, what to look for when choosing supplemental music, and where to shop online for piano music.

Why reading sheet music is so important

Build fluency – The more music your child encounters, the more opportunities they have to practice the musical skills they are learning.

Become more independent – Students need to learn how to decipher and interpret music independently from their teacher. They need to learn to listen to the sounds they make and compare those sounds to the notation in the music and be able to know if they have rightly interpreted what is written.

Exposure to more sounds and more music – Sight reading music that is a little easier than what they are currently studying gives students the opportunity to explore many styles and genres of music. They are able to see rhythm patterns in different settings and read the notes of the staff in various locations.

What to look for in choosing supplemental sheet music

These are the levels I use in my studio

  • Early Elementary – baby piano students in their first six months of study. Basic rhythm, very few notes on the staff (or non-staff notation), one or two staves per page.
  • Elementary – usually students are in their first year of study. Rhythm patterns are simple and repetitive. A narrow range of notes in the middle of the staff, usually with no more than four staves per page. Usually, only one hand plays at a time.
  • Late Elementary – students in their first two years of study. Starting to add more notes and rests, which create a wider variety of rhythm patterns. Hands begin playing together, sometimes with multiple notes in one hand or the other. Articulation marks are included to help with musical expression. Staves and notes are smaller on the printed page. Basic pedaling is included.
  • Early Intermediate – more complex rhythm patterns, a wider range of notes on the staff, more hand to hand coordination, more expression markings as well as phrase marks. Key signatures and articulation markings are more involved at this level.
  • Intermediate  Continual progression of difficulty. Intermediate and advanced music has more staves per page and more notes per measure with multiple note combinations offered.
  • Late Intermediate
  • Advanced

For a reminder of common note and rest values, listen to Episode 029: Steady Beat vs Rhythm.

Not all levels are created equal – Each method series can have its own term to describe beginning music: Early Elementary, Primer, 5-finger music, Beginner, etc.

What one method labels as Book 1 might have difficulty to equal another series’ Book 2. Your best option is to look at the music your piano kid is currently studying and find music that has the same characteristics: same number of staves per page, a similar number of notes per measure, a similar range of notes on the staff.

Sheet Music Plus has a helpful Leveling Guide.

Resources for purchasing music

Shop local if you have a music store in your community. My favorite music store in Tyler is Mundt Music.





Composers Community @ Piano Pronto

Dancing with my Shadow by Lisa Donavan Lukas

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