What is a musicogram?
Musicograms are graphics that attempt to represent music in a visual form. They are drawings, shapes, or symbols that provide us with structured and comprehensible visual information. It is formed by the words “musico” – related to music (that sounds), and “gram” – related to writing (that is seen). Some people use musicograms as pre-musical notation before introducing conventional musical notation, although there are many other ways to use musicograms.
What are musicograms for children?
Musicograms for children are aimed at the young audience, therefore, they must be adapted to their comprehension and action capabilities. They pursue the same objective as any musicogram, which is to facilitate musical understanding. Being directed at children, they must be playful, simple, and of a measured length. Children should be able to follow and memorize them easily. They may include differentiated colors, eye-catching shapes, and actions that can be performed in a short time.
What are musicograms used for?
Musicograms are used to graphically represent the elements of music, such as its structure, pitch, rhythm (rhythmograms), dynamics, timbre, textures, etc.
Generally, musicograms are used to facilitate the understanding of music. Therefore, they tend to be simple, with simple shapes, colors, and distinguishable sizes. The Belgian composer Jos Wuytack, a disciple of Carl Orff, created and popularized their use to improve the ability to appreciate classical music in boys and girls without musical knowledge. Today, musicograms have spread and are used for all kinds of music, without exception.
What positive effects do children’s musicograms bring?
Musicograms for children are an ideal complement to auditory work. Here are some of the benefits of their application:
- They provide a global vision of the musical structure
- Help to understand music
- Represent musical elements such as articulations, accents, timbres, rhythms, glissandos, tempo changes, etc., in a simple way
- Sense of pulse
- Stimulate rhythmic coordination
- Direct attention from the abstract to something “tangible and concrete“
- Serve as pedagogical material as pre-notation
In short, children and also adults can take advantage of the visual channel implicit in musicograms, to remember, compare, and differentiate more tangibly how music is constructed.
Why should musicograms be used wisely?
There is a significant pedagogical mistake in thinking that to understand music, visual support of a score or a musicogram is necessary. Although they were designed to help understand music and as a resource to encourage active listening, it is entirely possible to dispense with musicograms to fully understand music and the elements that make it up. The widespread visual dependency in society and even in the field of musical education leads many teachers to believe that notation and the graphic elements representing music are synonymous with musical understanding. But as music is primarily a sonic medium, the experience, knowledge, and understanding must be predominantly auditory. Musical structure, to give an example, can be perceived, retained, compared, and transformed without any visual support, solely through listening. And the same goes for any element that makes up sound and music. All without exception, including tonality, harmonic relationships, textures, timbral combinations, rhythm, and even the slightest change in pitch and dynamics, can be understood auditorily. Exactly as it was done before the existence of musical notation.
From this blog, we always want to direct attention whenever possible to the potential of the ear to enjoy and understand music, without the presupposed visual dependency. Musicograms, which have great pedagogical value, should never serve as a substitute for a rich auditory experience formed by its aural, oral, verbal, and symbolic stages, among others.
What extramusical benefits do musicograms for children provide?
Musical development is already a great stimulus for children. It motivates them for life, helps them improve while having fun, and is one of the most complete artistic activities in which any human can engage. But, in addition, music, and in this case, musicograms for children, provide a series of extramusical benefits, among which are:
- Synchronization of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic planes
- Fine and gross motor skills: are favored when children’s musicograms include movement
- Coordination: the movements required by the musicograms pose a great challenge for children at a motor level
- Understanding of the concept of structure: thanks to musicograms for children, the abstract concept of structure is simplified. On the other hand, children will have, at just a glance, the possibility to appreciate the global vision along with the parts of these structures.
- Comparison and differentiation of elements
- Reading: help to focus vision from left to right