How do the colours help the pupil?

The musical stave is a beautiful, neat, elegant way of representing music on the page. Once understood, it tells us everything we need to know about the shapes and rhythms, textures and intentions of a piece of music. But as a beginner quickly realises, the stave tells us nothing about how to coax this music out of THE ACTUAL INSTRUMENT WE ARE HOLDING. Colouring the notes allows us to add some of that concrete, instrument-specific information without spoiling the simple shapes and contours of the stave, or adding any extra labels or clutter.

In the case of string instruments, one way to use colour is to have a colour for each string. This breaks the stave up into small, manageable zones. Once directed to the right string, the beginner pupil only needs to make simple 2- or 3-way choices. The mental load is lightened, the pupil will “get to the the tune” with less effort, and the logic of the stave lines and spaces can be learned at a gradual pace.
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What else will I find in the books?

All the books contain a mixture of

  • melodies
  • songs to accompany
  • ensemble parts for a range of abilities
  • structured  and creative tasks to back up the material learned
  • (in Book 2) solo arrangements

The books are extensively illustrated with clear, colourful pictures to show each new teaching point, and  to remind pupils of good posture and hand shapes. Continue reading

What will happen when I take the colours away later?

Any experienced teacher will certainly by now be asking the following question: “OK, so the colours will provide help in the early stages – but will the pupil become dependent on them, and not be able to do without them afterwards?”

Hand on heart – most pupils who have worked through the first book of Rainbow Guitar (or Rainbow Ukulele) will find that they can make the switch to playing tunes with the same notes, printed black in the normal way, within a very short space of time and with very few problems.  If you have had lots of practice in playing tunes which look like this:

then it is not really such a great leap to playing a tune which looks like this:

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