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The Savvy Sight Reader offers a revolutionary approach for teaching counting and sight reading. This method is much like learning the alphabet before learning how to read. It begins by teaching within-beat rhythms using stick notation (without pitch identifiers) as the equivalent of learning letters. Once the within-beat rhythms (letters) are learned, they can be combined to form full measures (words and sentences). Teaching these aurally and then applying the visual is the equivalent of teaching a child to speak before reading. For example, a child can say “mama” without knowing how to spell or read it. Once learners have automatized the visual representations of rhythm, pitch can then be added. Whether learning visually or aurally, the emotional intent should also be considered.


It is essential that you believe that beginner musicians can learn to read common within-beat rhythms. They are cognitively, physically, and emotionally ready to perform and understand simple and complex rhythms. For example, learners learn to subdivide in their elementary music classes (Kodaly, Orff, Suzuki, etc.). In this method, we embrace the notion of sound before symbol moving to iconic representations of time and rhythm alone. By separating pitch from rhythm using icons in the first stages, learners move more quickly to the goal of combining pitch and rhythm as represented in standard (symbolic) notation.

The Savvy Sight Reader The Art and Science of Counting in Music

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