Months and months ago I heard about a dutch traffic engineer who was proposing something totally counter intuitive to make roads and neighborhoods more safe; the removal of stop signs, cross walks, and other road signs we are familiar with.
Why would he propose this? How would less signs make us more safe and not more...dead?
When these signs are gone and we can't rely on them to keep us from crashing into another car or that biker riding on the side of the road, we are forced to pay better attention and to make eye contact with everyone else we are sharing the road with.
If you have ever driven around a "round-a-bout" you know exactly what I am talking about. Drivers enter and exit the traffic circle in a much more cautious way, making eye contact with the other drivers, finding enough room, and sliding into traffic.
What does this have to do with music?
I have a HUGE pet peeve when it comes to students making marks in their music, and that is when students mark every single note in a phrase, section, or sometimes on an entire page of music. With all of those markings on the page it becomes impossible for them to look up from the music and make connections with other musicians, their conductor, and almost all musical ideas.
These students are not even reading music at all.
I believe that as we remove these crutches and point out the patterns in the music that will allow them to remember that fingering or those note names our students become more musical and attentive. A fingering here or there as a "landmark" is often necessary (and allowed) as long as it is in recognition of a pattern.
Students need a chance to address the things they don't know and to stretch their understanding of concepts everyday. We want them to force their brains to recall what that note is, or to raise their hands and ask or ask a neighbor. If they don't have to work for it, they definitely will not remember it.
Remove the signs, and help students notice the patterns, and make the connections.