If you have ever learnt a musical instrument, and even if you haven’t, you have probably heard of the acronym Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit as a way of remembering the notes E G B D F in the treble clef.
I’m probably being a bit harsh. I’m sure every good boy does deserve fruit however teaching music this way, in my opinion, is just not helpful, given we now have a far more sophisticated method available.
The problem with this acronym is that it requires students to learn 5 individual note positions on the stave. Now if you think about it there are 88 notes on the piano. That means that using this principle we would need another 83 words to remember all the other note positions on the stave! Admittedly octave signs may reduce this number but you get the idea.
I don’t know about you but I would find that many things to remember impossible.
I have spoken to hundreds of people over the years who had lessons as a child but never really felt they read music well. Don’t get me wrong, they could find their way around the music ok but things like ledger lines freaked them out! I’m convinced that this approach is one of the reasons why they found it difficult.
Attempting to remember this many note positions is quite ludicrous, don’t you think?
I wanted to share my surprise with you when a student came to her lesson recently and played through the soundtrack ‘Where No One Goes’ from the movie How To Train Your Dragon 2. Ella had basically learnt most of this piece on her own (apart from some polyrhythms she needed help with) using the intervallic system to reading the pitch that is taught here. Learning to read music using this system, in my opinion, is SO much more efficient than the old-style Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit approach.
This particular student has been coming for lessons for approximately three and a half years and is planning on performing this piece at our upcoming Piano Party. Ella was also one of the keyboard players in her high school musical last year.
I love it when students surprise me like this. It’s extremely important they are taught to become ‘self-generative’ so they have a system to decode music off the page, into their fingers, for themselves, so that they can experience a sense of FREEDOM playing without the music in front of them.
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