Kindergartners practice reading the music alphabet colors. I use colors that coordinate with the boomwhackers. I colored each of the bars so students who can not read letters have another strategy to use in playing the instruments.
First Graders practice reading music with colors and music alphabet letters as much as possible. I’m not worried about keeping a steady beat as much as just building the association skills with coordinating the music letter to bar on the xylophone/metallophone.
Second Graders begin really putting the colors and alphabet letter to specific lines and spaces on the staff and begin building reading skills with a steady beat.
Students have a lot of practice for independent notation reading. I use color coded letters in first and second grade as well as color coded note stems to give them ample practice in reading traditional notation.
This flow is similar to how we think about children learning to read. First, it’s simple decoding and memorization along with building strategies such as using picture clues. They build on these strategies and begin decoding more challenging letter and word patterns. This is mimicked in the early childhood music classroom. In reading, we then build deeper comprehension strategies and fluency in reading. This is also a goal for second graders when building their music reading skills.