Unique approach to reading music
As is well known, the usual obstacle to functioning as a young string player is weakness in note reading, rather than an inability to play the instrument. Acknowledging that this topic requires special attention, SFE approaches reading in a unique and very effective way.
- Alphabetical order
- An obvious principle of music notation is alphabetical order, a concept well known to even young children, especially the letters at the beginning of the alphabet. Because of the fortunate circumstance that each of the string instruments has an A string, there is a lot of sense to beginning instruction with the notes of the A string, which is what SFE does.
- Start with fewer notes
- Students can easily be overwhelmed by having to learn many notes too quickly. Meanwhile the stress of concentrating on confusing printed notes distracts from paying attention to correct playing habits. Therefore SFE devotes the first third of Book 1 to the notes A, B, C, and C sharp so that the complex activity of playing the instrument comfortably while reading notes with ease becomes well learned before new vocabulary is introduced.
- Improved legibility
- For violin, the note A is near the center of the treble clef, making it more difficult to read than notes near the top or bottom of the staff. This problem is addressed in the early pieces by darkening the center line of the staff so that students only need determine if a note is below, above, or in the dark middle line. Afterwards, transitioning to a normal staff rarely causes difficulty.
- C before C#
- Unlike most methods, C is introduced before C#. Conceptually this makes sense, since C# is not a letter of the alphabet but a modification of one. (Technically, in the case of the violin, the low 2 is not inherently more difficult than the high 2. It only becomes a problem when combined with third finger. So, in SFE third finger is first introduced in combination with C#, though the low 2-third finger combination is introduced shortly thereafter. The low 2 /high 2 distinction receives a lot of attention throughout the books for reasons all too obvious to teachers.)