A Music Picture

This was drawn by an artist student of mine after his first lesson.  He was coloring while it was his brother’s turn.  Proof of his very observant eye – the upholstery on the chairs, the microphone on the bongo drum and the music on the music stand.

The numbers represent a simple way of indicating fretted notes on a guitar (Tablature) and recreate the intro to the first song we learned (“Animal” by Neon Trees – his pick).  By writing numbers of frets on a string and bypassing the learning of note names (for now) on the treble cleff and corrosponding guitar frets, we can get to the song right away, which brings me to Rena Upitis’s work with children and notation in Music:

All too often, the formal or standardized system is taught first, with little attention to children’s natural development in understanding the system in question…. one must trust the children enough to believe that they will create meaningful patterns of music notation, with some thoughtful interventions on the part of their teachers to extend the directions that they take in their work.    (Upitis 1992)

This picture says a million words to me.  Long live TAB, cheers to my student for taking seriously the challenge of putting music onto papper, and thanks a million – it looks good on the refrigerator!

“Can I Play You My Song? The Compositions and Invented Notations of Children”  Rena Upitis, 1992

Author: aarondoerr

Owner of Fellow Musician LLC, a small music education business specializing in outreach and private study. I'm guitarist for musical theatre and production assistant at St. Louis Public Radio.

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