Composed by a five year old student.
Music makes you happy.
Music makes you smarter.
Music makes you CREATIVE!
Sometimes creativity is forgotten in music lessons. Unfortunately, it's forgotten in many other subjects as well. In my studio, creativity comes first! Day by day, our children create their lives and become who they are; with their ideas! To me, creativity seems to be the most important factor in our lives. So why not practice it like we do everything else?
I wasn't as fortunate as some of my students, to have music lessons at the age of five; or three for that matter. I sometimes wonder how my musicianship would differ if I had had that opportunity. I envy them all. I also adore them and I'm inspired by their quick abilities to learn. They learn swiftly and with energy. As adults, we tend to believe we don't have the capacity to learn these things at all, especially in a hurry. We are wrong. But that's a new blog for a different day.
Now let's get creative. A five year old piano student of mine composed a song last Thanksgiving. Not only did he write the song, he also transcribed it! Yes. On that staff paper stuff that only serious adult musicians use. I am ashamed to say, I did not learn how to do this until COLLEGE! (Yes, I must have been 18. This kid is five!) I thought, "This child must be a genius!" Perhaps; but then I discovered that even more of my students were able to accomplish this same extraordinary task.
This task is not extraordinary at all. This 'task' is simply a possibility. A possibility that lives in every child AND every adult. It lived in all of us when we were five, but perhaps we didn't have the tools to discover it. (Tune back in for next week's blog, "We still can.")
Even though, as adults, we may have missed out on these groovy tools, our children can have them now.
These tools are not only for transcribing songs.
These tools are the very same tools that solve math equations.
The same tools that exercise reading and writing.
The same tools that will be used when your child becomes a civil engineer, a neurosurgeon, or a orchestral conductor.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Imagine.
Piano for a three year old?
Parents often wonder when their children are ready for music lessons. Good news! As long as your children are familiar with letters A-G of the alphabet, they are ready to start a new language! The language of music. Rhythmic and tonal patterns will become new "words" and before you know it, they will be not only playing, but also composing and transcribing their own songs! Be sure to check out the MUSIC PAGE to hear our Young Artist CD collection. Our latest hits include 'Heart Sparkle Diamond', written by the Levitt sisters, ages 3 and 5, and 'Echo', written by Ahilya, age 7.
The song to the left was composed by one of my five year old students. He had a minimal amount of assistance from me as he composed the rhythm and melody, then transcribed it all on his own.
I use traditional methods of note reading and incorporate them into fun stories and adventures to help students retain the language long term. In the beginning, we learn a few right hand notes on the piano- in regard to a story so the children can have some images to latch on to. We then begin to place those notes on the staff and learn to recognize them and play short tunes. During this process, we are also learning rhythmic patterns and finger numbers. Activities are changed every 3-5 minutes so they stay focused! Remember, one hour can feel like five hours to a three year old. I make sure to incorporate fun games to train their ears and motor skills. These munchkins will never know they are 'learning'. Check out a sample curriculum for ages 3-4 below. 15 minute add-on lessons are also an option for younger siblings who may not be ready for a full lesson.
I also teach advanced piano for older children, teens, and adults.
I am often asked at what age children are ready to take vocal lessons. First and foremost, we want to make sure our children maintain healthy voices without strain or oversinging. Their vocal cords are more delicate than those of an adult and care should be taken to make sure no damage is done. Although very rare, problems could occur in extreme cases of screaming or oversinging. It may seem as though young children may not be ready for private lessons, however that is not the case. Children can highly benefit from learning a healthy singing technique from the very beginning. Poor habits can quickly be formed if they are singing alone without supervision. If they have a coach, however; they can learn the proper techniques from the start and not have to relearn anything, as many singers do. My students under the age of eight usually combine their vocal lessons with songwriting or piano. I have several students who are as young as three, which I believe is an important time for children to be singing. This is the time when their tonal memory begins to take shape. In additional to a minimal amount of technical work, these kiddos can work on skills such as strengthening speech, expressiveness, stage presence, posture, articulation, learning rhythmic and tonal patterns, and much more. The most important, however, is finding their 'singing voices' by guiding them to access their higher register. Some children find it difficult to access, but with a few fun exercises, they can usually get it pretty quickly. Chirping like a bird or hooting like an owl never fails!
Piano and vocal lessons at this age gives children a great head start. Music is a language and we must learn it as so. We learn English at that age, so why not other languages? Incorporating tonal and rhythmic patterns as a musical 'vocabulary' can give them a great head start. Imagine if reading music were just as easy for them as reading English! In addition to learning the language, with younger children, I often work on what some would call "speech therapy". Working through consonants and vowel sounds to pronounce lyrics reinforces what they learn in school so they learn much faster.