Embracing new notation systems – introducing ColourTAB

Presenter: Georgina Leach


Many young musicians (and adults!) find western staff notation intimidating and difficult to understand. This can act as a barrier to learning as children struggle to ‘translate’ unfamiliar symbols whilst simultaneously grappling with the myriad technical demands of the violin.

An initially enthusiastic student can quickly become discouraged and disengaged. To survive in today’s climate, musicians need to be flexible and adaptable. I often work with artists who have had no formal education in Music (yet in some cases have a wall full of gold records!).

Being a confident improviser who can arrange on the fly and play from lead sheets/by ear has given me access to some fabulously diverse music-making opportunities and allowed me to carve out my own niche. From the aural tradition underpinning the Suzuki method, to reciting bols in Indian music, from guitar TAB, Kodaly’s Solfa, to ABC Notation in Irish trad and ‘gamified’ tutorials on YouTube, there are many ways for students to access musical learning.

Why are we so obsessed with Western Classical-centric staff notation? Surely there other notation systems and approaches to learning worthy of exploration that will not only broaden our students’ experience, but enkindle a profound love of learning and may serve their needs better.


Georgina is a violin teacher, violinist and Music teacher. She is also author of the ground-breaking tutor series Dynamite Strings receiving rave reviews from students, teachers and ARCO magazine!

Striving for innovation and excellence in Music Education, she wants to shake up string teaching putting diversity, inclusion and creativity at its core. Starting Suzuki violin aged 4, Georgina won scholarships to study in the UK and USA.

She graduated from Manchester University and RNCM with First Class Honours (Joint Course) and holds a PGCE in Secondary Music. Discovering a flair for improvisation, she enjoys a varied performing career across a range of genres.

Touring internationally with artists such as Seasick Steve, Ramin Karimloo and Ethan Johns, Georgina was shortlisted as ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ by the AMAUK.

Recordings of note include Mary Chapin’s album ‘Sometimes Just the Sky’, a song with Billy Bragg and arranging on Tony Hadley’s (Spandau Ballet) upcoming album.

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