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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

A new form of Music Notation that teaches math and music!

A new form of Music Notation that teaches math and music!

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Numbered Notes music notation is a new design on an old idea. Did you know that the music notation that we use today is over 300 years old and was NOT designed for 12 notes? Originally it was designed for only 7 notes and 5 additional notes were added in the Medieval ages. These are the black notes on the Piano. The notation is so hard for kids to learn and read because instead of assigning each of the 12 notes a unique letter name monks just kept the original 7 notes A-G in place and referred to the new notes by their proximity above or below by using sharps or flats. That is why the note above C and below D is referred to as both a C# and a Db. Two names for the same note! Numbered Notes solves this naming problem by assigning each note a number 1-12. Numbers also allow for counting so you can navigate intervals in a logical way. The “12 note staff” assigns notes to consistent positions eliminating the challenge of remembering the Treble and Bass Clefs. Also a new timing system uses the same conventions for Notes and Rests so once you learn one you know the other. The new notation is designed for the task at hand. It was designed by professional musicians and artists so that it would be intuitive and functional. I our opinion, a huge problem with education is not just class sizes and funding but the ACTUAL CONTENT! Numbered Notes is like a software upgrade for an older version. It can do Bach, Mozart and Chopin too. It's time we started redesigning the information systems that we are teaching our kids and let them really succeed! Try Numbered Notes for yourself on our website keyboard and let us know what you think …..good or bad. www.numberednotes.com Our goal is to bring music literacy above 90% using Numbered Notes. See for yourself!

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Cecilia Baldwin's picture

It sounds messy from a concert band point of view. I have the privilege of teaching all of my beginning band students in a large group setting with mixed instrumentation. My students typically have no difficulty understanding notation by the time they've spent a semester studying the instrument. I would be interested in seeing how it deals with notes smaller than a quarter note and how it deals with dotted notes.

Dana's picture

Piano students already have several numbers to negotiate--i.e, fingering, counting the beats, time signature. The basic intervals on the piano are a great visual aid for learning 2nd, 3rd, etc. Sometimes difficulties with reading notation (especially two staffs of music at once) can actually be due to vision problems. When students understand basic theory, it's a lot easier to read music. They see chords instead of individual notes. They see (and hear) scales, modes, etc. They see patterns, and aren't even thinking about letter names at times. It becomes more intuitive and automatic, like reading a language.

Lauren Hays's picture
Lauren Hays
Music Teacher from Olympia, Washington

My question would be, how will this help a student to be a versatile musician no matter where they go in the world? If they learn to read music this way, will they be able to work in all different kinds of settings, in many countries, with all different kinds of musicians at any level? The music theory that we use may be old and have it's flaws, but it is used worldwide and therefore no matter what musician or performing group you play with you will be able to create, because you speak the same music language. If a student was to learn this way, would they be able to take say a Rachmaninoff piece and read it and perform it? Or would they have to do a ton of transposing of notation? If they did, then they would have to be able to read the "old" notation as well to understand how to transpose the information.
I know that music theory is difficult to learn, but if you have a teacher who is willing to use differentiated instruction to teach it from all angles then students have a much better grasp. The reasons students have a difficult time learning to read musical notation is not because of the theory itself, but because of the way our teachers are teaching. It is not the content it is the instruction.

Chara Rollins's picture
Chara Rollins
Music teacher in Texas

It seems to me like this adds an extra step. I looked at the Chopin piece on the website. For example, I see 8's with 3's next to them... so does that mean I play 8 and a 3rd above it? So Instead of just playing the pattern of dots, I actually have to look closely at that number to see what it says.

I can see this being a fun app to play with, but not adequate for serious musicians. Either way, you have a to learn a system of notation, so why not learn the one that most music is already in?

I bet these same kids would learn traditional music notation in the same amount of time...

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

I see this as an interesting idea, but one that might have come a few hundred years too late. Too much history, and way too much music to overcome.

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