One of the first opportunities for students to experience reading standard music notation consistently is on the recorder. As I introduce it every year, I am trying to brainstorm ways to change large learning leaps into structured and scaffolded steps to access standard notation.
One way I have attempted to bridge the leap from iconic to standard notation on the staff is through color-coded notes. I use the colors of the boomwhackers. Students have had experience with this pitched percussion in their early music years.
When starting the recorder, students have so many new things to focus on, gently breath, correct fingering for notes and covering holes completely are needed just to get a sound out of the instrument, a sound that won’t pop the ear drums. My belief is that if we make the notation more accessible as recorder is started, students can focus on building good playing habits. The color-coded notes support students in playing songs at a fast rate. Rather than waiting a few classes to build enough skills to play a song, you can get them to play Hot Cross Buns by the end of the first 30 minute lesson.
Below is the PPT I use for my beginning recorder lesson. I do use 3 hole paper reinforcers to put around the holes and color code them. I find this helps all students and gives an even stronger scaffold for students that need additional accommodations. I hope this encourages you to think about ways we can help all students discover an access point to standard notation.