Learning is a journey, and we are here for it! Our new segment Figurenotes Journeys is all about highlighting the fantastic work you Figurenotes Champions are doing, and showing how Figurenotes can help anyone access music.

Our first story comes from a Figurenotes expert and all round wonderful teacher, Jill Henderson.

A Figurenotes Learning Journey

‘That take was the one’

This is a story about a child at Craigmarloch ASN school, Inverclyde who we will call J.  J is a bright little boy with a diagnosis of Autism which is the main barrier to his learning. From his earliest days at the school, he has shown a natural aptitude for music with perfect pitch, a beautiful singing voice and an instinctive sense of rhythm.  When approximately three years ago Figurenotes was introduced into his class music learning, J took to the system immediately.  The concrete nature, simplicity and visual attractiveness of the method make it very accessible for learners with Autism and before long J was sight singing and writing his own music in Figurenotes.

J also really likes to draw and taking himself to a quiet room with a glockenspiel, paper and crayons is an effective and enjoyable way for him to regulate his emotions and calm down if he is becomes stressed or overwhelmed. One morning during lockdown I gave him a booklet of familiar children’s songs written in Figurenotes. He quickly played through them all then asked why Mary had a little lamb was not included.  I replied that I would write it for him for the next day.  Imagine my surprise and delight when a few minutes later he came out from his quiet room having written the music out for himself!  I had not explicitly taught him about lengths of notes but he had visually absorbed this information for himself and was able to write his own music using the system.  This example reinforced my belief that Figurenotes was an accessible and meaningful system which enabled beginners and those with learning difficulties to learn to read, play and compose their own music.

This year, now in P6, J is learning to read and play 2 hands together on his favourite instrument, the piano. Again, the Figurenotes software allows teachers to write several parts together and clearly label them as desired-in this case RH and LH.  Basing the learning on his favourite song Whole World in His Hands we began by mastering each part separately (easy bass line first) then playing the music together, a line each.  After 8 weeks of positive little steps, he was able to play the song all the way through, 2 hands together.  This video shows his delight in his success and J tells me he hopes everyone in Scotland will enjoy watching him play his music.  In his word’s “That take was the one!”.

Jill Henderson 11.03.22

Well done J and big thanks for sharing Jill!

If you have any learning journeys you would like to share with us, email Figurenotes at: figurenotes@drakemusicscotland.org


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