Experiment 3 – reading the grid scores

Translating the grids into a melody played on the glockenspiel was another story entirely! They all (but one) found this way too difficult. It showed me that there are some fundamental ideas about mapping out sounds that we can explore as a group first – such as the idea of reading from left to right (rather than down and up, as some of them were doing), the idea of different notes being represented by each subsequent horizontal line, the way that the grid note names (written out) will correspond with the notes on the glockenspiel in order. It was frustrating for them to go from the puzzle task, which they’d completed so well, to a translating task which left them confused and disengaged, but it was in fact incredibly useful for me and has given me lots to think about in how we might develop their skills in representing and reading musical sounds in different creative ways.

The second time I tried the ‘reading and interpreting’ step, I gave the group an introduction into how to read the grid score. I suggested that they try to figure out each note in relation to the previous note – is it a step up? A step down? A jump/leap up? Down? Those that solved the reading task used this system and again, they were proud of their achievement.

At the end of the 2/3 class lesson, I commended them on their teamwork, working in pairs. “It’s not always easy to decide whose turn it is,” I told them, “so you did well. Did any of you find that it was your partner who helped you figure out what to play?” And one person in each of the successful pairs raised their hands. “That’s great,” I said. “Sometimes your friend is the best teacher.”

These are 2 of the ‘pianola scores’ (I got the idea from Teaching For Musical Understanding, by Jackie Wiggins) for the folk song Zum Gali Gali:


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