Over ten years ago I started using stories to help my students learn some of the notes. I noticed that associating stories with the notes on the stave and on the piano helped them to instantly recognize and locate those notes. And they loved the stories - it was surprising how they identified with and loved the characters. Because I could see it really working, I kept developing the idea, and then got busy writing it out as an additional theory component for my lessons. The results were outstanding! It became so easy for my beginner students to learn what the notes were on the music stave and how they connect to the notes on the piano, which meant they could read music easily and progress well through their piano books. I also found I no longer had kids who struggled to read music - it seemed to work with everybody!
I knew I was onto something really good, so I kept fine-tuning the stories and the theory pages. Over a couple of years it grew and grew, until finally I decided to find out about getting it published into some theory books ... that was a big turning point that started at the beginning of 2009. My husband and I met with a publisher, Maria, who understood what I was doing; it helped that her mum was a music teacher and that her son had learned music for a number of years and could play by ear but had really struggled to read music. She could see the benefits of it, how it worked and she believed in it!
Yay - I wasn't just dreaming after all.
Maria walked us through all the many steps to going from drawings and single sheets of paper to books, magnet sets and a magnetic stave whiteboard. I was so proud of the books and the products – they turned out to be really professional. In 2010 I launched Easy Notes at the national conference of the New Zealand Institute of Registered Music Teachers, and during that year I marketed the products through some leading music shops in New Zealand, travelling the length and breadth of the country to present Easy Notes to local music teachers.
Later that year, to my delight, Easy Notes was picked up by Devirra Music (formerly Alfred Publishing) for distribution in Australia. I was thrilled! I flew over to Australia a number of times, giving presentations to local music teachers, and also presenting Easy Notes at the Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference in Wagga Wagga in 2011 (and again in Adelaide in 2017). In the ten years since then, Devirra have been fantastic, promoting Easy Notes, and supporting me when I’ve come up with new ideas. I’m really grateful to them for believing in Wilbecks!
The next step in the journey is that now, in 2020, the Wilbecks products are on the ground in the USA. And the product range has been expanded to include a wider range of music theory products, which are now called the Wilbecks Music Theory Resources.
It’s been a great journey so far. I absolutely love Easy Notes, which is what got this all started in the first place. As a music teacher, Easy Notes is my life saver! With it I am confident that when I start a beginner, they will be enabled to easily read music, and that they will really enjoy the process of learning to do it. I have a lot of fun with my students with Easy Notes, and for me there is the satisfying outcome of having a healthy music studio where students are motivated, learning, and progressing well.
I hope that you will also find the Wilbecks resources to be helpful in your musical journey!