Traditional written music can seem like an imposing foreign language, but a new way to write and read musical notes, being piloted in Scotland, could unlock playing for all.
Figurenotes, developed in Finland in 1995, swaps the complicated notion of crotchets, quavers and breves for a system of coloured symbols. Rather than reading music, wannabe musicians simply match the coloured symbols on stickers attached to the keys of a piano or the fret board of a guitar to the symbols on a page of music.
The 18-month Scottish Figurenotes pilot, run by Drake Music Scotland and funded by the Scottish Arts Council and the National Lottery, began in September with 160 children and four adults with learning difficulties in Edinburgh, East Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, West Lothian and Orkney.
During the pilot, Drake Music Scotland hopes to:
- test and create Figurenotes software;
- produce simple resources (stickers, song sheets);
- train teachers and music leaders;
- provide music sessions for children and adults;
- share best practice among pilot partners.
Already pupils from Lilybank School in Inverclyde, who have been using Figurenotes, have been able to join the training orchestra in their local mainstream school, Port Glasgow High.
There is also a stepping-stone process to move pupils from reading music in Figurenotes to using traditional notation.