For a long time, I underestimated the effect color could have on my students and their ability to read and perform music accurately and with musical understanding. Once I did begin to use color, I was amazed at the difference. Now, my students regularly purchase colored pencils or erasable colored markers as part of their band materials. Here are some ideas that have worked well for me.
Color in the bandroom:
- Try placing colored transparencies over music or written pages to assist students in reading. Another option is to cut strips of colored transparencies for students to use as they track their reading.
- Music and text can be highlighted for ease in score and staff reading.
- For students learning to play band and orchestra instruments, specific notes may be highlighted for practice.
- Some highlighters have erasers at the opposite end. These can be used to erase notes and highlight new notes, or to erase highlighted lines for other students who do not need highlighted materials.
- Notes may be color coded at first to remove some of the steps required for note reading. For example, a beginning flute student may be learning D, C, and B flat D may be highlighted in green, C may be highlighted in red, and B flat may be highlighted in blue.
- Color coding may be needed less frequently and phased out altogether. Paper hole reinforcers around the keys may be added. The reinforcers can be color coded to match the highlighted notes in case a student needs to remember the color that matches the fingering.
Students who have difficulty with visual processing often learn better when color is used. It can soften the black and white differences in band music, it can provide assistance in remembering note names, and guide the student to each line in a multi-part piece. The clinic will go into much further detail as to how to help all your students succeed in music.
This article was submitted by Dr. Alice Hammel from James Madison University in Virginia. She is a leader in the field of students with special needs. You may read more information about her here.
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