Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sight-Sing a New Song

A Workbook for Music Reading Basics. Jennifer Kerr Breedlove. Spiralbound. World Library Publications, 017290, $9.95.

This workbook should be very helpful to singers who have little or no music reading ability. Jennifer Kerr Breedlove developed this system specifically for singers rather than for instrumentalists who, for example, "depress the correct valve or key at the right time to produce the correct sound." Singers, she says, need to "learn to read and write a rich new language we've seen and heard all around us but never had the tools to translate."

She provides tools in a very clear, progressive way which allows each person to master a section at one's own pace. The presentations on rhythm and meter are very clear and should be especially helpful. The workbook includes some simple written exercises and some very helpful vocabulary studies with definitions of musical terms.

The book includes explanations of note and rest values, simple and compound meters, time signatures, rhythmic patterns, key signatures, sharps, flats, naturals, whole and half steps, and major and minor scales. There are many exercises for reading melodies and rhythms.

This workbook could be used effectively with a group or by an individual. It is intended primarily for adult learners who want to acquire or improve music reading skills for parish music ministry, but high school and even middle school choir members could benefit from using this system. I would recommend this book to-or even buy it for-any choir member who could not read music well (or at all), and I would spend time working with choir members in a group using this method. I believe that the individual choir members and the entire choir would benefit enormously.