I was recently browsing the net to see what other piano teachers were doing. I always seem to find a great deal of creativity in the web sites of various piano teachers. However, this time my eye noticed that many teachers simply refuse to take on a student that cannot read. There’s also the issue of “sitting still” that gives many teachers pause concerning teaching the very young. Maybe here’s an area when my creativity may prove helpful.
Since I first put out my shingle advertising myself as a piano teacher I’ve taken an avid interest in teaching the very young. I’ve studied the young beginner very carefully. I’ve also simplified musical concepts to the 4 – 6 year level. I have taught music to pre-schools exposing students to Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and even Stravinsky. The key is to bring the information to the student at their level of understanding and, at the same time, to their maturity in concentration.
I created Keyboard Kids, a pre-school piano course, to teach my young 4 – 6 years old students. I also created Dan, Dan the Music Man, a series of music classes I have taught at various pre-schools. In an effort to combine the best of both of these programs I’ve decided to create Keyboard Kids Complete. Students will learn the basics of learning to play piano and how to read music AND they will also receive instruction on all the concepts I’ve taught in Dan, Dan the Music Man.
Here are some examples from the books of the activities in Keyboard Kids Complete.
The fundamental concept of reading music is very simple. One note = One sound. There is no need for staves, clefs, bar lines or any other music symbol. The student is only given the symbol necessary to make a musical sound. Other symbols are introduced one by one as we need. Slowly but surely standard music notation is introduced to the student. Students always comprehend every musical symbol on the music page.
This is a page from about the middle of the students first book. At this point the students understands line notes and space notes. The student understands that when the music moves from a line to a space the music moves from one white key to the next adjacent white key. The concept of the musical step, the basic principle of the scale, is firmly established. The student also understands quarter notes, called walk notes and half notes, called hold notes. The pacing of the Keyboard Kids Books is geared for the average 4 -5 year old and their shorter attention span.
Supplementing the students lessons in learning to read musical notation is a comprehensive and creative music readiness program. The student music readiness program includes music appreciation, building rhythmic skills, building singing skills, building listening skills and much more. A couple examples from my book — Dan Dan the Music Man’s Book for Increasing Musical Muscle.
All students need to develop basic rhythm skills. This page of exercises teaches students to sense Basic March Rhythm. The musical symbols are the same symbols covered in the Keyboard Kids Reading Books. After students master the rhythm they learn to play the rhythm along with Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous Procession of the Sardar using various rhythm instruments to add some extra interest in the learning process. Classical music is featured highly in Keyboard Kids Complete.
Keyboard Kids Complete also teaches students how to listen to music. This is often done through a picture. The picture teaches the music lesson. The above picture contains a foreground (the old man) and a background (a window). Music also often has a foreground (a melody) and a background (an accompaniment). The student will be given a musical example, this time an art song of Franz Schubert called Hedge Roses. This piece has a very distinct foreground melody sung by the voice. It also has a very distinct background accompaniment played by the piano. The picture gives a clear visual image of what the student hears in the musical example; and the student learns a little bit about classical music and art song in the process.
This little blog post only gives you a small smattering of what your child will learn in Keyboard Kids Complete. For a free interview to answer all your questions please call me at (724) 935-2840. Ask for Dan.