Music Makers: At The Keyboard

Posted by: John

Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/04/02 05:34 PM

I've just received the books for the second year of MM:ATK from Musikgarten, and I LOVE where all of this is going!

Any technique nit-picking I use to have is a non-issue now, since there is enough flexibility to approach all pieces from a variety of ways (2 or 3-note chords, alternative fingerings, etc.)

I'd love to hear from other teachers who use this course, or ANYONE who has incorporated Music Learning Theory into their piano curriculum. I've also ordered Marilyn Lowe's new course, and can't wait to see what she has created.

[ June 04, 2002: Message edited by: John ]
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/04/02 08:56 PM

I'm sure this is around here somewhere, but could you please explain exactly what approach they take? I went to the website and it told me NOTHING. :rolleyes: And I can't afford to buy all the materials just to see if I like them.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/04/02 09:28 PM

Ars, go here and click "Music Learning Theory". Basically the approach for piano instruction (or any instrument) is to prepare the student with a rich vocabulary of tonal & rhythm patterns through many, many rote songs in a variety of tonalities, keys, meters, and styles, before introducing reading from a score.

The idea of using solfege is hardly new, but the "Beat-Function Syllable System" is by far the BEST way of chanting rhythms for beginners (IMO), and was created by Edwin Gordon, James Froseth, and Albert Blaser.
I am blown away how easy it is for my students to pick it up, and how logical and consistent it is.
http://www.unm.edu/~audiate/frames.html
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/05/02 10:21 AM

I just went to their website. Very interesting and informative!

It's nice to be reminded periodically why I do what I do, and why I love what I do.
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/05/02 02:06 PM

Hmmmm.... Interesting.... I can see the value of having students be able to audiate a pattern and then recognize it on paper, but how long does this process take? i.e., How long before reading skills are introduced? And I take it that this is only for young beginners? I can't see an eleven-year old liking this idea too much... A whole bunch of other questions popped into my head while I was reading, but I can't remember what they were.
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/05/02 02:35 PM

I remember now. \:\)

How is this method adjusted for private lessons? And more specifically, private piano lessons? It seemed to be more of a music readiness technique that could eventually lead to the study of any instrument.

And how exactly how strong is the technical aspect? I, personally, am a technique FREAK when it comes to teaching. Since the piano is such a physically demanding instrument, my goal is for my students to become physically comfortable with it as soon as possible, which means they've got their hands all over the keyboard from the very first lesson.

It also seemed rather, um, involved, which is fine, unless you're like me and teaching young beginners isn't your primary focus. How easy is it to adjust to teaching like this? I'd rather not throw my entire teaching method into an upheaval for just a few students...
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/05/02 02:54 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:
How long before reading skills are introduced?

And I take it that this is only for young beginners?


Reading skills are first introduced through flashcards of short tonal and rhythm patterns. These cards contain patterns that have been thoroughly mastered by singing and chanting. Later, the notation for the rote songs is introduced, and gradually unfamiliar notation and patterns (that resemble familiar ones) are used.

Really, all beginners can be taught with this approach, but the materials should be different for older kids.

The books themselves are NOT the "method".
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/05/02 03:07 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:
How is this method adjusted for private lessons? And more specifically, private piano lessons?

And how exactly how strong is the technical aspect?

How easy is it to adjust to teaching like this?


(in order)

1. You just teach one student instead of 10. Seriously, I can sing, drum, dance, and move as much with one child as with 10. Parents can also join in! As to "how", well, that's MY "method"!

2. The technical aspect is as strong as I want it to be. I have my own "stuff" for that. Books don't teach technique, teachers do.

3. It's NOT easy, but I've decided it's important enough to alter EVERTHING I have done in the past to fit this curriculum (and more specifically MLT).

Ars, I don't mean to "pick on you" here, but I do think that if you are truly interested you can go seek out the many resources that exist. It really requires purchasing things like Bruce Dalby's Audiation Assistant, Musikgarten materials, and books through GIA to get a "feel" for MLT. Workshops are also held across the nation by the GIML. Don't base ANY decisions on what others may say.....explore what's out there, and decide for yourself.

(nod to Lisa) ... GOOGLE AWAY!
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/06/02 09:27 PM

I know, I know, I know -- method's in the teacher, not vice versa. Let's put it this way -- I'm looking for books that best facilitate MY method. \:D

See, I'm not sure how interested I really am. Like I said, preschoolers aren't my main focus. I am interested enough to buy the books and look through them, except, I didn't find them at the music store today... Do you have to order them from the company?

What I've been doing is using HL lesson book (just so I can spend a loooonnnggg time in pre-reading), "transposing" select PA technique excercises that I like into pre-reading, and using some eclectic photocopied/homemade stuff. But it was kind of hard to judge how successful that was because all the students I've worked with like this have had NO parental involvement (We're talking six weeks of "We've lost Susie's book again. So she hasn't done anything this week. Just do what you can!" ). And we all know that the best teacher and/or method in the WORLD can't be successful in a situation like that. :rolleyes:

[ June 06, 2002: Message edited by: Ars Nova ]
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/06/02 11:13 PM

http://www.musikgarten.org/f_teachers.htm

Books only available through Musikgarten. Go here and call the 800 number. Click on the choices on the left for more info.

Just buying the book will not tell you enough; you need to purchase the whole set ($150) to get an idea where it's going. Ideally, you download Bruce Dalby's Audiation Assistant to get familiar with the rhythm syllables.
http://kellysmusicandcomputers.com/productinfo.asp?id=962036062

MUSIC MAKERS: AT THE KEYBOARD

Teacher's Guidebook & Binder w/cards, Year One $60.00

Children's Book w/2 CDs, Year One, Semester One $45.00

Children's Book w/2 CDs, Year One, Semester Two $45.00

[ June 06, 2002: Message edited by: John ]
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 06/07/02 10:06 AM

Hmmmm... I'll think about it... There's always a tax write-off...
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 10:15 AM

I’ve just returned from an 18-hour workshop of MUSIC MAKERS: AT THE KEYBOARD (Year One), and wanted to share some of my experiences. Although I have NO IDEA as of now where I will set up groups, I am extremely motivated to secure a location and start group classes for beginning piano! Seeing this course taught by an expert teacher (Karen Haughey) and witnessing the enthusiasm of the children, dancing the dances, singing the songs, and playing all of the notation games was so helpful and inspiring! What is also exciting is the prospect of having PRIVATE students who have gone through this 2-year course. There are skills developed in the 4th book (Year 2 – 2nd semester) that I remember students at U of M’s Music School struggling with in freshman theory and sight-singing classes.

Here are some comparisons we studied between the stages of language development and music development. It is roughly sequential, but some aspects can be developed concurrently at every stage (for example - composing can be explored with pattern cards, long before the skill of writing music down is developed). This juxtaposition of music and language can be helpful to share with parents when teaching an aural approach to music literacy. Unlike traditional “rote” teaching, students are singing songs with tonal and rhythm languages (i.e.- with understanding) long before playing them, and they can find these patterns by ear through trial and error on the keyboard (with a little verbal guidance) without the need for a teacher to show them the patterns physically. I do think this differentiation is important to clarify for parents.

(This makes more sense in a table or graph…..it’s the best I could format).

1 ~ LANGUAGE & MUSIC - Hears and absorbs the sounds and rhythm of language. No language response or “limited” (babble). Children hear English for about 10,000 hours before they start to speak. This underscores the importance of parents playing good music for their infants and toddlers.

2 ~ LANGUAGE - Begins to imitate sounds – no comprehension.
MUSIC – Echoing patterns on a neutral syllable (like “bah”).

3 ~ LANGUAGE – Associates an object or person with a label (aurally). Accumulates a bank of words and meaning.
MUSIC – Echoing patterns using solfege or rhythm language.

4 ~ LANGUAGE - Aurally recognizes a familiar word when spoken in a phrase or sentence.
MUSIC – Aurally recognizes a familiar pattern within the context of a song or chant.

5 ~ LANGUAGE - Accumulates a bank of “sight-words” – isolated, familiar words that the child recognizes in their written form.
MUSIC – Seeing familiar patterns in notation.

6 ~ LANGUAGE – Visually recognizes a familiar word when written in a phrase or sentence.
MUSIC – Visually recognizes a familiar pattern within the context of a written song or chant.

7 ~ MUSIC & LANGUAGE – Visually can decipher unfamiliar words (phrases) by using what they’ve learned about familiar words (phrases).

8 ~ MUSIC & LANGUAGE - Composes with (writes) words/music sensibly, in complete phrases or sentences.

9 ~ MUSIC & LANGUAGE - Learns and can explain the rules of our written language; grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. This is when theory should be introduced; theory should only explain what our bodies already “know”.

I’m definitely investing in more drums for my piano studio (I have small ones…I want the ones that go “Boooom”). I think this area needs more attention by all of us piano teachers. Drumming patterns LOOONG before reading them, esp. ones involving patterns like “Both-R-R” or “Both-R-R-R”, etc., etc., makes most coordination problems experiences later in piano study almost non-existent. Exploring the link between different kinds of touches and sound production is also a wonderful benefit to drumming, before trying it on the piano.

These issues of the Early Childhood Connections by the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association (ECMMA) were also recommended for teachers of young children:

Vol. 2 - #2 (Early Childhood Development)
Vol. 2 - #4 (Music and Infancy)
Vol. 3 - #4 (Music Literacy)
Vol. 6 - #6 (Music & Movement Giants of the 20th Century)
Vol. 8 - #1 (Building the Bridge Between Early Childhood and Beginning Piano)

All are $10-12 and available by calling 336-272-5303

Well, this post is long enough.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 10:28 AM

Does Musikgarden make you exclusively use their curriculum? I got turned off by Kindermusik because of their insistence that you use only their books & teach their way. I like the freedom & flexibility of adding my own touches. I don't want to feel like I'm in a straight jacket.
Posted by: dlinder

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 11:40 AM

John, thank you for taking the time to put all that down in words. I wasn't able to attend the seminar in NJ this year, but I'm really wanting to. Maybe next year.
The drumming thing makes sense to me. I only have one drum and other rhythm instruments that I've used for tapping out the rhythm of a piece before playing it on the piano, but the LH, RH, together coordination and practicing the different touches make perfect sense! I have a 5 yr. old boy that will love it, too!
Actually, I wouldn't be above trying it out on an adult that needs help in these areas!!
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 11:45 AM

Hal, (if I'm Du-de can I call you "Hal"?) :p , Musikgarten wants you to use their curriculum (natch), but they are always stressing how the teacher him or herself has to be constantly assessing the group's readiness for each activity and adapting the lesson plans as needed. In other words.....we're allowed to think! :p

Assignments are also individualized to provide just the right challenge each week for each child. My own feeling about MG's curriculum is that there is very little to "change" overall, but there are many possiblities for adding personal touches. I have already added my own "thangs" to the course, mainly consisting of more variety of physical gestures at the keyboard.

It's best to think of this group course as a bridge between early childhood classes and formal private study. Even if a child does very little home practice, he or she will have experiences that are "planting seeds" for future musical development.

OH NO! I'M SOUNDING LIKE A MG REP! I am not, and I really had no plans to teach groups and become a licensed MG teacher before taking this workshop.....(that's still pending). All I can say is that I am even more convinced about teaching beginners in groups ONLY, using materials such as MG's that were created specifically for children and how they learn music most effectively and naturally. I can also say that now that I use approaches based on the work of Gordon, Orff, Kodaly, etc., etc., there is no turning back to the more "traditional" ways I used to teach music and piano. I really feel like I've found my "nitch", and want to consider teaching some of the classes that precede MMK and get into more early childhood "pre-piano" teaching. I simply love it!

Hopefully teachers who read this thread will be inspired to look into this AND other ways of teaching music through the piano, make their own discoveries and shape their own curriculums, and NOT view one teacher's enthusiam for a specific book or CD as a comment on or a challenge to their own methods and philosophies. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

THAT WOULD JUST BE SILLY, EH? :p :p :p
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 11:57 AM

Deedra, quick ideas on drumming:

Start with the microbeat (small), change to macro (big), then try alternating hands on the micro and macrobeats. Always change when appropiate after 4-8 measures (or whatever matches the phrase structure of the recording). This is also a great way to introduce future songs well before playing them.

Look ahead in whatever method books you are using, and anticipate all coordination "issues" by drumming those patterns sequentially. Most methods will introduce a LH holding a note or interval for 3-4 counts with a quarter note RH melody, so that is a great combo to start with initially. Look for alternating hand patterns that repeat, or when hands go from both playing together to individually. You could print these out if you'd like, but be sure to have the child EXPERIENCE these patterns for a while successfully before using any notation. If you have FINALE, e-mail me privately and I'll send you more "stuff".

OK. Time for live music by Lake Washington, Farmer's Market, and a Mocha.
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 12:56 PM

 Quote:
By John: All I can say is that I am even more convinced about teaching beginners in groups ONLY, using materials such as MG's that were created specifically for children and how they learn music most effectively and naturally.
[

Amen, Amen, and Amen!! Once you've taught children this way it's almost impossible to go back to the "traditional" way of teaching. It's like you feel you would be compromising your values and and cheating them out of a total musical experience.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 02:14 PM

I'm not after teaching young children (or anyone else, for that matter) the traditional way. I prefer to custom tailor instruction to fit each individual student's needs. The reason I asked about the flexibility of MG is because when I ordered the Kindermusik program & read that they expect you to teach strictly from their books & not alter the curricula in any way, I got turned off. Plus after sending me the info. pack, they kept calling me on the phone & e-mailing me about teaching Kindermusik. :rolleyes: I kept ignoring the messages until they finally got the hint that I wasn't interested. I don't like the idea of being limited to a certain set of books. It just seems, well, unAmerican!

I'm much more interested in teaching private lessons than I am in teaching group lessons, primarily because I don't particularly like working with big groups of hot-wired, high-strung preschoolers. I prefer one-on-one, or perhaps dyad, instruction.

[ July 17, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 03:25 PM

 Quote:
By John:
I’m definitely investing in more drums for my piano studio (I have small ones…I want the ones that go “Boooom”). I think this area needs more attention by all of us piano teachers. Drumming patterns LOOONG before reading them, esp. ones involving patterns like “Both-R-R” or “Both-R-R-R”, etc., etc., makes most coordination problems experiences later in piano study almost non-existent.


This is an excellent point and goes along with the concept of having studentsfeel the rhythm first, before we should expect them to play rhythmically. And I've found that kids that experience these types of drum activities (as well as using other rhythm instruments) develop an "inner rhythm" that is just AWESOME. I've had about 6 students that started lessons at age 4-5, and now, a few years later, they jump into band at school and can easily do percussion. The band teachers comment that they are just a "natural" at drums, or that they completely skipped beginning band and are at the next level. Considering what a terrible time I had as a child learning how to count rhythm, I never cease to be amazed at these kids.

The rhythm excercise of using both-r-r-r with drums, or a drum in one hand, tambourine in the other, etc... is great for teaching "hands together" at the piano. It's also good for teaching dotted rhythm (LH straight quarter notes, against a RH dotted pattern).
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 04:00 PM

I use a small set of drums in my studio. They're just the run-of-the-mill Playskool drums you buy at Toys 'R Us. I'm thinking of buying a lollipop drum, but am wondering how older students would feel using something like that. Perhaps bongo drums would be better?
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 04:52 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeño:
It just seems, well, unAmerican!


Jala,

That's the beauty of having a private studio; you can think for yourself and tailor your instruction to the individual. The group-think dogma of other music programs have good intentions, but mainly attract teachers who aren't as interested in developing their own pedagogy.

I refer all interested students under the age of seven to Kindermusic or Musikgarten. Ironically, I see no difference in the supposed "readiness" (I hate that jargon!) of students who attended these programs and those that didn't. In theory, students who experience these music-readiness programs should have an advantage on those that don't ~ but that is not my experience. Maybe there's some studies that prove otherwise.

One mother called me about lessons for her six-year old daughter....and when I mentioned Musikgarten, she said "Been there, done that....we want real music lessons for her, not supervised games like follow the leader." I asked what she meant, and she went on to say that her experience of Musikgarten was mostly supervised play-time and demanded nothing of the students.

I still recommend it, though, as I don't know what else to say to those parents interested in starting early. Any other suggestions? Is Dalcroze better....or more of the same?
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 05:39 PM

 Quote:
By Eric:
The group-think dogma of other music programs have good intentions, but mainly attract teachers who aren't as interested in developing their own pedagogy.


Have you ever even taught group classes for any measureable length of time? I don't mean small group theory/playtime/rhythmtime, but actually group piano class? I've taught both the Harmony Road group curriculum and my own private lessons since 1982 (private lessons alone since 1977). I can definitely tell the difference between the two and for the young beginning student, I believe the group experience is far better. The activities and teaching techniques that are used in my program cannot be done on a one-to-one basis. By the same token, you can't take a method or philosophy that's developed for a private lesson structure and use it for a group class successfully.

Even though I follow a set curriculum and lesson plans, I have the freedom to add or delete certain aspects, to focus on what I think is important that might not be addressed in the method. And do you really think all private piano teachers are 'interested in developing their own pedagogy'? Maybe the ones who frequent this board, but I think many more pick up a Bastien, Alfred, Faber, or 'whatever' and go with it as is.
Posted by: bethann

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 05:55 PM

John,

I was so interested to hear your experiences with the MMK workshop! I would love to attend one someday - they just need to come a little closer to my home! (Right now, the closest is about 10 hours away.) But thanks so much for all the info - I may just have to save up and buy the MMK materials to see what all the fuss is about!

Jala, I've been doing a little research on the differences between Kindermusik and Musikgarten - in fact - see the thread "Kindermusik Questions" because someone there gave the whole history of the two groups. Anyway, you do not have to be a licensed Musikgarten teacher to buy their materials - so you could incorporate them into your own program as you saw fit. I don't think they are nearly as strict as Kindermusik. In their newsletters, teachers talk about new ideas they tried in their classes that were obviously not in the curriculum.

Thanks again John - feel free to tell us MORE!
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 07:59 PM

Guess what I get to start doing next week? I get to teach bilingual piano lessons to a 4.5-year-old boy. I agreed to it because I have experience teaching bilingual piano lessons, & because the mother is very involved in her son's education & seems willing to work with him extensively at home. However, I'm not yet sure which materials I'll decide to use. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. MG seems a little expensive for me right now, as I'm not sure how many young children I'll end up teaching (this boy may be the only one for a while). I have MFLM & Bastien PP (Piano Party), neither of which I'm wild about.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 08:28 PM

I forgot about these links. You can go to Keyboard Companion's page to hear files from the Practice CD. I should mention that there is a LISTENING CD that students listen to "as often as possible", and a PRACTICE CD that is used either at the piano while practicing or while playing rhythmic and melodic notation games. This article was published in the latest issue of Keyboard Companion.
http://www.francesclarkcenter.org/kbc/

Go to this link and click on Ellen Johansen's letter in the article:

"What can you accomplish with your students using a new technology that you could not accomplish previously?"
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 09:56 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by alidoremi:
Have you ever even taught group classes for any measureable length of time?


alidoremi,
No, I am a piano teacher. My youngest students are second-graders and enjoy occasional group settings to supplement their private instruction.

 Quote:
alidoremi:I can definitely tell the difference between the two and for the young beginning student, I believe the group experience is far better.


alidoremi: That sure makes sense to me, which is why I refer young beginners to the women who teach in those settings. As I said, I don't see a big difference between graduates of these programs, and those that just wait until they are ready for piano study....But I continue to recommend them since, if nothing else, the children seem to enjoy them.

I am not aware of the whole background as to Kindermusik vs. Musikgarten....but am very interested in learning about another alternative. There are some SCARY things at the MG site that are steering me away from recommending it without major warning labels attached.

Anyone out there have other recommendations? (Not for me to teach....but for me to send young children to for early musical instruction.) Alidoremi, what is Harmony Road?

[ July 17, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/17/02 10:57 PM

Eric,

Harmony Road is a music course with curriculum from 18m-12 years. Similar to the Yamaha method, but fills in many of the gaps that I (and other teachers) felt were in Yamaha. About 120 schools across the U.S. I think I posted extensively about it in another thread under Early Childhood heading. It consists of music/movement classes (similar to MG/Kindermusik) for ages 18m-4 1/2, but with introductory keyboard activities included; the piano/keyboard program begins at 4 1/2, but still retains the group activities of singing, movement, rhythm/keyboard ensembles, ear training, note reading, etc... Classes and curriculum divided by age (PreK-K; 1st-2nd graders, 3rd-6th graders). After 4 years in core piano program they move on to private lessons.

Now I'm going to try and create a link....
http://www.harmonyroadmusic.com/
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 07:50 AM

OFF-TOPIC ~ Alidoremi's first link ever is above! Brava! Brava! (Ali, I can relate to your newfound computer accomplishments....I just learned how to do this last year!)
Posted by: Lilla

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 07:54 AM

Jala, check out the Sing and Play series. I think what works best for those of us not wiling/ready to go the formal group class routine, is to take a method like Sing and Play and customize/coordinate to suit your needs. Sing and PLay is pretty neat because it includes all kinds of rhythm activities, dancing, even cutting and pasting pictures - as well as traditional note learning and technique. I combined it with PA Primer but if I had it to do again - I would use more Sing and Play and less PA. The PA moved too fast and asked for skills unaccessible by small 4-5 yr. olds (fifths). MHO LIlla

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeño:
Guess what I get to start doing next week? I get to teach bilingual piano lessons to a 4.5-year-old boy. I agreed to it because I have experience teaching bilingual piano lessons, & because the mother is very involved in her son's education & seems willing to work with him extensively at home. However, I'm not yet sure which materials I'll decide to use. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. MG seems a little expensive for me right now, as I'm not sure how many young children I'll end up teaching (this boy may be the only one for a while). I have MFLM & Bastien PP (Piano Party), neither of which I'm wild about.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 08:34 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Lilla:
Jala, check out the Sing and Play series. I think what works best for those of us not wiling/ready to go the formal group class routine, is to take a method like Sing and Play and customize/coordinate to suit your needs. Sing and Play is pretty neat because it includes all kinds of rhythm activities, dancing, even cutting and pasting pictures - as well as traditional note learning and technique. I combined it with PA Primer but if I had it to do again - I would use more Sing and Play and less PA. The PA moved too fast and asked for skills unaccessible by small 4-5 yr. olds (fifths). MHO LIlla


Thanks, Lilla. You're the 3rd teacher today who has recommended Sing & Play to me. It must be good.

What concerns me the most is that I'm going to be working with a 4.5-year-old boy. From what I've been told, very young boys have more problems (than girls) when learning to play piano because their small muscles don't develop as soon. Therefore, even if this boy is bright & talented, I'm most likely going to be dealing with some developmental issues that are going to slow his progress somewhat. For this reason, I want to incorporate as many non-piano musical activities as possible.

I thought about incorporating an early childhood curriculum such as MFLM into PA primer, but know that this strategy might not be that effective. And like you, Lilla, I'm concerned about such things as 5ths for very young children.

The Sing & Play books are not that expensive, & I hear that the teacher's manual has a lot of great ideas. There are no CDs, but I can always use my MFLM CDs during the boy's weekly lesson time. I might not use the entire MFLM curriculum, but MFLM definitely has some creative activities, etc. that I like. The finger # song, for example, is great. I also have Midisaurus software that I think will come in handy.

The boy's mother wants me to incorporate Spanish vocabulary words into the lessons. I'm thinking of coming up with Spanish "blue jello" rhythm words, teaching him some Latin American folk songs that my kids learned in Costa Rica (you won't find them in any book), & getting some bongo drums for rhythm work [Desi Arnaz style, ;)].
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 09:07 AM

Jala - Definitely purchase all 3 (SING & PLAY, WRITE & LISTEN, AND the TEACHER'S MANUAL). I think using S&P and loaning out ;\) MFLM's Discovery CD is a nice combo.

Bethann (and all), more workshop stuff:

Here were some of the books recommended at the workshop for anyone teaching music to young children:

SMART MOVES, WHY LEARNING IS NOT ALL IN YOUR HEAD (Carla Hannaford)

ENDANGERED MINDS (Jane Healy)

YOUR CHILD'S GROWING MIND: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND LEARNING FROM BIRTH TO ADOLESCENCE (Jane Healy)

WHEN LISTENING COMES ALIVE (Paul Madaule)

THE CONSCIOUS EAR (Alfred Tomatis)

As someone who has (tried to) dance about 2x in my lifetime, I was most excited about the dances we learned. I kept reflecting on how much we as a society have lost these last 50-100 years by experiencing less and less dancing and singing as children. Here I think many teachers can help educate parents (and send a message) by either requiring movement and music classes before accepting private students for piano study or creating "piano preparatory" classes for all new students. What we’ve been doing for piano students is tantamount to placing a child who has not had Basic Math in an Algebra class and trying to “catch up” and cram before the many PREREQUISITE SKILLS are mastered. I don’t remember the exact quote, but someone remarked how “Theory can only tell us what the body already knows” (or something like that).

Of course we’ve also ignored the non-musical benefits of dancing like cooperation and a sense of community, as well as the links between the ear, movement, and balance.

(excerpt from a quick GOOGLE search below)

Sensory integration is the process of taking in information about the world around us with all our senses and from inside our own bodies. Through integrating and organizing the senses of vision, auditory, touch, movement, muscle awareness, and smell, we are able to interact comfortably and efficiently in work, play, and through social interaction.

As we move, touch, are touched, and place pressure on our joints and limbs, the brain is informed about the body's position in space and where our various parts are in relation to one another.
http://www.rmlearning.com/SensoryIntegration.htm

Concerning the music itself, this is probably the NUMBER ONE reason why I am using this program now (as well as the music from Hal Leonard and Faber) ~ I SIMPLY ENJOY IT! This is the first collection of music that I find myself singing and “audiating” ALL OF THE TIME. Of course the songs on the CDs have a much greater impact since they all contain children singing the words AND a wonderful variety of acoustic ensembles.….an advantage that instrumental music does not have! The words and tune just “stick” more. But I am also sure that the selection itself has to do with the appeal of the music -- these songs have existed for decades and centuries, and have been loved by children all over the world.

When working with the children, Karen had a wonderful way of stepping out of the way and guiding more than leading, observing and just being AWARE of every child in the class (esp. non-verbal cues), and having just the right mix of structure, spontaneity, and flexibility. Here (as always) you really have to observe a master teacher in action to fully appreciate what I’m trying to describe.

The pattern work fundamental to the whole program; rhythmic and melodic patterns are experienced sequentially and so ingrained that by the time a child SEES the patterns in music there is no question as to it’s sound of feel in the hand.

Workshops are mainly held in the summer, but if you go to you local teacher groups and get 10 interested, committed teachers, Musikgarten may be able to help you organize a local workshop.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 10:28 AM

Thanks, John Dude. I just ordered the S&P teachers manual, along with the S&P Bk. 1 and the W&L Bk. 1. I'm not sure about loaning out the MFLM Discovery CD. Little Pepper is 4.5 now, & I can start using it with her. Also, this mother already told me she's willing to purchase CDs (& she also has a 16-month-old daughter). Her attitude is that music ed. is not going to be an option for her kids, so she sounds like she'll be a committed parent. You never know until you actually enroll the student, though. Some people say they'll do thus & so, but never follow through. :rolleyes:

[ July 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: bethann

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 04:06 PM

Jala,

I think you are right on track with wanting to "custom" a method to your young student. We've all shared our thoughts on MFLM and Piano Party. I'll be curious to hear what you think of Sing and Play. Keep us posted!
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 05:19 PM

Jala, Alfred may hate this idea, but I'd even go with JUST buying the CD set (there are 2) for MFLM and teaching the songs on the LESSON CD to the child first on a neutral syllable (like "bah") and later with solfege. I'd START with the White key pieces (all DO-RE-MI or LA-TI-DO), and introduce the black key pieces later (with DO-RE-MI-SOl-LA).

There are lots of neat activities on the DISCOVERY CD that you can do that aren't suggested, like playing a TONIC and DOMINANT single note (LOW) for the Mexican Song or playing along with the DO-RE-MI Tapping Song.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/18/02 05:29 PM

I have the set. As a matter of fact, Little Pepper is listening to the Discovery Book 1 CD right now. \:\)

My new student's mother will love the solfege thang once I explain to her that that's the way they learn to read notes in Latin America. She's heavily into bilingual education. She speaks English & French, & wants her children to learn Spanish. She's asked me to include Spanish in the piano curriculum. Solfege is a great way to start.

[ July 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/19/02 03:07 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeño:
What concerns me the most is that I'm going to be working with a 4.5-year-old boy. From what I've been told, very young boys have more problems (than girls) when learning to play piano because their small muscles don't develop as soon. Therefore, even if this boy is bright & talented, I'm most likely going to be dealing with some developmental issues that are going to slow his progress somewhat. For this reason, I want to incorporate as many non-piano musical activities as possible.


Cool! I'm going to start lessons with a 4.5 y/o boy this fall, too, so we'll have to compare notes! I keep hearing "Sing & Play" all over the place, so I guess I'll check it out. Never taught a kid this young, but I'm really eager to see what I can do.

Oh, yeah, and, um *diverting the eyes in mild embarrassment*, how would one go about teaching solfege if one doesn't really actually know solfege? I can still just teach ear training and intervals on a neutral syllable, can't I? Of course, if I don't have to teach that until after this semester, I'll be all set... (8:00 class -- Ear Training & Solfege. How well can one learn to sight-sing when one isn't even awake yet???? :rolleyes: )

[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: Ars Nova ]

[ July 19, 2002: Message edited by: Ars Nova ]
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/19/02 06:00 PM

Burt's has the S&P books in stock, including the teacher's guide. They're prices are a wee bit higher than Stipes, but at least you can either call their 800 # to order or place an order online. If you order directly from Stipes, you have to call long-distance.

Patti & Music Time do not have the S&P bks. in stock. They can backorder them for you, though.

I checked with the local music store here in Lubbock & found out that they've never heard of Stipes Publishing. That explains why I didn't see the books when I visited the store yesterday. What they had was (in no particular order) Faber, Alfred, Schaum, Bastien, Noona, Glover, & Thompson.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/19/02 06:25 PM

Kings Keyboard House in Ann Arbor often has S&P. 1-800-968-5464. They ship anywhere in US.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/21/02 02:21 PM

John Du-de: FYI, upon reading the MFLM teacher's handbook more thoroughly, I see that solfege (at least an introductory sort of thing for pitch recognition) is included in the curriculum.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/21/02 03:15 PM

Unfortunately they limit it to the "Listen and Sing" songs, so you'll need to transfer solfege to all of the Lesson Book pieces. They also use fixed do (so you need to decide if that's your route or not). I'd be sure to stress the concept of major or minor "resting tones" from day one.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/21/02 06:27 PM

One thing's for sure. I'm not using the MFLM level 2 books! I just looked at the MFLM level 2 lessons bk., & it has the typical Alfred positional pieces with a picture of a keyboard at the top of each page to show kids where to put their hands. Once I'm done with MFLM level 1, I'm going to PA Primer or something that does not have those blankety blank diagrams! Why do they take what could be a good method & mess it up like that?
Posted by: dlinder

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/21/02 06:46 PM

PA Primer doesn't have the keyboard diagrams at the top of the page???
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/22/02 06:51 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by dlinder:
PA Primer doesn't have the keyboard diagrams at the top of the page???


For the off-staff pieces, yes. Once the staff is introduced, the Fabers only give diagrams that show new notes (where the notes are on the staff & where they are on the keyboard). They do not show students where to put their hands.

In contrast, the MFLM level 2 lessons bk. has color-coded keyboard diagrams (each key is a different color; students learn these colors in level 1) showing exact hand placement, & telling students what hand position they're playing in, even after on-staff reading is introduced.

IMO, I think the sooner students can start reading the staff, & the sooner they can be taught how to figure out the hand position themselves (without the aid of a keyboard diagram), the better.

I guess if you started someone as young as 4 years of age in piano lessons, you might could have them learn off-staff pieces (with diagrams) for a longer period of time without doing much, if any, damage. However, I do not plan to teach anyone who has just turned 4. I prefer to work with ages 5 & up, but will take 4.5-year-olds if I think they're ready to begin private piano study. It's not my intention to be a general music teacher. We have Kindermusik teachers in town for that. Everything I teach (body movements, singing, etc.) will revolve around learning to play the piano. Anyone who doesn't want to learn to play the piano can go take Kindermusik classes.
Posted by: bethann

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/22/02 04:22 PM

I keep waiting for someone else to ask Eric what he found scary at the Musikgarten site. Since I am still weighing all my options, Eric, will you please elaborate??????
Posted by: dlinder

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/22/02 06:14 PM

Jala, thanks for clarifying that. This is my first student to have in PA primer (I've used the other levels) and we haven't got passed the off-staff notation yet. I did notice today though, that once they introduce the C position in the off-staff they don't use the diagram any more either, they just say to use the C position.
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/22/02 08:22 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by bethann:
I keep waiting for someone else to ask Eric what he found scary at the Musikgarten site. Since I am still weighing all my options, Eric, will you please elaborate??????




Musikgarten's Hidden Agenda





[ July 22, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/22/02 10:28 PM

Oh puh...lease!
Posted by: Me

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 07:50 AM

Me thinks that site was disturbing! I guess their philosophy is "get 'em while their young, before they can make up their own mind!"
Posted by: My Self

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 07:52 AM

\:\) \:\) \:\) I went to the site and I don't see what Eric was talking about....it looks like a wonderful curriculum! \:\) \:\) \:\)
Posted by: I

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:14 AM

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:18 AM

Musikgarten will be coming out soon (August 2002 projected) with Music Makers: Around the World at the Keyboard, which provides teachers with an option for younger students who may need more experiences with music & movement as they explore the keyboard. It is a combination of Music Makers: At the Keyboard and Music Makers: Around the World, and creates a 3-year curriculum (the keyboard alone is a 2-year program).

More workshop reflections:

It was interesting to learn the dances for the folk tunes. MG's draws music from many cultures, and they have tried to keep some of the spirit and moves of the traditional folk dances in the movements we teach in classes. The American Indian Hoop Dance was one of my favorites, and the general spirit of all group dancing is one of cooperation and awareness of others (unless you like tripping over and bumping into people!
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:33 AM

Really, all the singing, dancing and rhythm activities sound like great fun....and even the aforementioned program that gives me the creeps is probably enjoyable for the folks that are into that. I still recommend Musikgarten's programs, since clearly the parents can choose what kind of curriculum they are exposing their child to. Because of that, there's not really a "hidden agenda" at all; everything is out in the open.

Still, I wish I saw more of a difference between the skill level of MG graduates and those that did nothing. Are there any studies that prove that these activities are actually helpful....

Even if they aren't...at least the kids can have a good time until they are ready to start piano lessons! \:\)
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:50 AM

I don't think skill level is what should be measured with programs like Musikgarten, Kindermusik, Harmony Road, Music for Young Children, etc...

The reason I find these program superior to just having a child wait til he's 6 or 7 to start piano lessons is this: the structure and the activities involved in these programs are designed to help children internalize music; whether through the singing of words, solfege, the rhythm games (first through free rhythm play, then ostinato playing, then progressing towards reading rhythm patterns, doing ensembles, etc...). When children internalize music, they become better musicians.
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 09:16 AM

alidoremi,

That internalization is what I'm looking for. I'd say 80% of second-graders come to me able to match pitch, clap rhythm patterns, and march to a beat.

What I am curious about is why the percentage doesn't change for students who enrolled in early music programs (in my case Kindermusic and Musikgarten). That is, the students who come to me without having enrolled in an institutionalized music-learning program seem to have done an equally good job at internalizing the music as those that have. It doesn't seem to make any difference. Perhaps it's because there is so much music in our society, from the shopping mall to the TV, that most kids internalize it anyway.

The question is the other 20% that seems to have a problem internalizing it whether they are in a program or not.

My findings are not scientific, so I don't trust them. I would be interested in a real study with a control group that can show that kids got anything out of this other than a good time....(which, like I said, is a good enough reason for me!)

[ July 23, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 09:17 AM

I agree, Alidoremi. Anyone who is truly interested in teaching young children should educate themselves about how a child's brain works and what experiences are appropiate. Jane Healy's book Your Child's Growing Mind - A Practical Guide to Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence is a good start. Children deserve MORE than the best we have to offer.

Knowledge has nothing to "hook onto" without a rich experience base. Programs for young children offer experiences that unfortunately many families do not provide. Of course one child could come from a family steeped in dancing, singing, and active listening with no outside "classes", while another may come from 2-5 years in classes from an unskilled teacher. "Measurements" are often misguided when it comes to young developing minds.

Luckily we have a chance to expose children to the diversity of music and people and teach respect in these classes through mutual cooperation and awareness of other cultures.....both respect for self and respect for others.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 10:24 AM

Eric: I'd like to know if these music readiness classes actually help, too. Hard statistics, not just theories. I can readily see where the early exposure to music would be valuable to those children who aren't getting it at home. But I don't think a music readiness program is necessary for all children. My own kids have never done solfege or body movement activities or what have you, but they can all keep a steady beat, sing on pitch, etc. It probably has more to do with the fact that they hear a lot of music at home & with the fact that they undoubtedly have some natural talent for music. To say that every child under age X needs to participate in a music readiness class is misleading. Not all of them do (though I readily acknowledge that there are some children who could possibly benefit from it).
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 12:21 PM

There is a myriad of sites that offer information based on research; here is one example from Gordon "zealots" \:D :

Early Childhood

One's potential to learn is never greater than at the moment of birth. (MLTNYC, 1:1) The early years of life are crucial for establishing a foundation for lifelong music development. A child's musical experiences from birth to age five have a particularly profound impact on the extent to which she will be able to understand, appreciate, and achieve in music as an adult. Children must be exposed to a rich variety of music during these years in order to develop the necessary readiness for formal music learning when they are older.

Children learn music in much the same way they learn a language. After listening to the sounds of her native language for some months, a child goes through a stage of language babble, in which she experiments with speech sounds that do not make sense to adult listeners. Soon afterward, she "breaks the code" of her language and is able to first imitate words, and then use them meaningfully in phrases and sentences of her own.

Children also go through stages of music babble, in which they make sounds that typically do not make musical sense to adults. In tonal babble the child sings in a speaking voice quality. In rhythm babble she moves erratically, without consistent tempo or discernible meter.

Children who have not yet emerged from music babble do not benefit from formal music instruction. They should not be taught as if they are young adults or kindergarten children. Parents and teachers should instead informally guide them to an understanding of music just as they informally guide them to an understanding of their spoken language before they receive formal schooling.



Guidance and Instruction

All guidance is informal in nature, because the parent or teacher does not impose information and skills upon the child. Rather, the child is exposed to her culture and encouraged to absorb that culture. Nothing specific is expected or demanded from children in terms of their musical responses.

There are two types of informal guidance. In unstructured informal guidance, which is appropriate from birth to approximately age three, the parent or teacher does not plan specifically what she will say and do. In structured informal guidance, which should take place roughly between ages three and five, the parent or teacher does plan specifically what she will say and do, but does not expect specific responses from the child.

Formal instruction should normally commence at age five, when the child enters kindergarten. In formal instruction, in addition to the parent or teacher specifically planning what will be taught, teaching is organized into allotted time periods, and cooperation, including specific types of responses, is expected of the child.

GO to http://www.giml.org

and click on Music Learning Theory, then Early Childhood for a continuation of this text. Or do a search on Google for the many other findings that are research-based. The information is out there, but I'm sure those who prefer to debate will do so! :rolleyes:
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 01:04 PM

 Quote:
by Eric: students who come to me without having enrolled in an institutionalized music-learning program seem to have done an equally good job at internalizing the music as those that have.


My own experience contradicts this. Even in my beginning group piano classes (4-5 year olds), I can tell the difference between the students who I've had since age 2 (in the music/movement classes) versus those that are just now in a class for the first time. Then I compare these kids to the private beginning students I teach and the difference is more pronounced. Yes, you can teach a child to internalize pitch and rhythm in a private setting, but I find the kids do it sooner and with more ease in the group setting. It "clicks" better for them.

Of course, mine isn't a "scientific" study, but having done both ways of teaching for many, many years now, I tend to trust the results of my own experience.
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 01:05 PM

And I think people will find that Gordon's ideas are rather solid. His approach is very similar (at a fundamental level) to Kodaly and Suzuki.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 01:10 PM

John, John, John. :rolleyes: That's not what I was referring to. I know that early exposure to music is important & helpful. What I'm asking is whether or not structured programs such as Kindermusik & Musikgarten help all that much in preparing kids to take private piano lessons at the "average" age of 6 or 7. Do the Kindermusik &/or Musikgarten kids do better in regular piano lessons than the kids who don't go to Kindermusik or Musikgarten? Eric says he's not seeing much, if any, difference between the students who receive this type of structured music readiness instruction & those who don't. Quite frankly, I'm not sure either way. That's why I'm questioning this. Don't get your undies all wadded up, okay? Just point me to the proof (documented research) that programs such as Kindermusik & Musikgarten do a better job of preparing students to take private piano lessons than good old-fashioned at-home exposure to music. I sense that programs such as Kindermusik & Musikgarten were created in response to the overwhelming # of parents working outside the home who don't have time to listen to music & sing & dance with their kids.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 03:18 PM

Jala, Jala, Jala (or "Hal" for short) ~ Thank you for being so concerned about my undies...last I checked they are free of waddage. :p

My post at 9:17 a.m. above partially addressed this adult-driven neurotic "need" to measure things, and how program....schmogram, children need good, solid raw EXPERIENCES regardless of "classes". Hopefully these experiences are guided by a competent adult who uses only the best sources of music, demonstrates the most appropiate movements (considering the child's age), and stimulates the most creative imagination. Studies show that children "like" the music that is MOST FAMILIAR to them.....something all adults who take care of children should ponder.

Children from excellent early childhood programs may NOT do well in private instrumental study (or demonstrate their abilities well) if they are transferred to the wrong teacher; this may mean a less-skilled teacher or one who doesn't continue to develop the multi-faceted foundation that was built earlier.

Of course teacher bias in plentiful on both sides, and let's not forget the parents involvement, which may have gone from ample involvement during the early years to abandoning the child at the piano with minimal involvement during private study. All of my experience and that of the teachers I personally know point to better overall musical development in children with solid early childhood experiences. Of course questions like:

What exactly are we measuring?
Can it be measured accurately YET?
Should it be measured?
And on who's "time-table" are we basing these measurements?

etc., come into play.

But the intent of this thread (sharing about a workshop) has been long polluted by misc. agendas, so I'm back to our WONDERFUL (yet too hot!) summer weather. \:D \:D \:D \:D
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 04:52 PM

Oh, so the program isn't complete. Is that what you're saying? The "right" teacher would continue dancing & singing with the child 'til some day the child would learn to walk & chew gum at the same time??? Sorry, John, but I'm in an onery mood today. :p \:D Seriously, I can't help but wonder how well this teaching approach works. For the students that need to continue instruction with the "right" teacher, how long does it take for everything to "click?"

I have a sister who sang in choir & took years of piano & ballroom dance lessons. To this day, she still can't clap out a steady beat or play piano with a steady tempo to save her life! She does okay in a group, but whenever she sings a solo, it's *** H E Double Toothpicks *** to accompany her on piano! [at least she sings on pitch & plays correct notes on piano, though. ;)] Whenever I think of her problems with rhythm, I wonder if some people just can't be helped.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 06:59 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jalapeño:
Oh, so the program isn't complete. Is that what you're saying?


Not even remotely close.... :p
Posted by: Lisa K. Studtmann

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:45 PM

The needle-ing in this thread serves no purpose and appears to be escalating.

Put an end to it, please, or I will delete or close this thread. Thank you. \:\)
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 08:47 PM

I agree with John about this discussion being polluted by miscellaneous agendas. Good discussions benefit from detailed analysis, considered responses, and thoughtful critiques and questions. We will all learn from one another if we refrain from propagandizing or returning a critique of our position with an ad hominem attack, or worse yet, making the suggestion that we should discontinue all investigation, debate and inquiry entirely.

I think Jalapeno is onto something very big, and really worth considering. That is an epistemological question of sorts: How do we know that there are indeed tangible benefits from the various early music programs being discussed? Thankfully, adults do have the ability and talent to measure the validity and value of things, and we need to apply this ability to aspects of our own profession. We should proceed with caution, and avoid swallowing whatever the latest educational hoo-hah is hook, line and sinker.

I notice a tendency that a lot of the early music education sites I’ve visited tend to, as Arlene pointed out, put children into little “boxes” that limit them. We need to remember that Einstein was barely speaking at five, while Mozart was already composing at the same age. There are three-year-olds who speak three languages fluently, and others who haven’t uttered a complete sentence yet. One four-year-old might be reading about dinosaurs, while another doesn’t know their alphabet yet. With this in mind, we need to be wary of theorists who lump them all together; In saying, “Here’s what 3-5 year-olds are developmentally ready for” they are worshipping the norm and ignoring the outstanding or the slower among us. Many children will fall right into those little boxes just so. But many will not.

That’s the beauty of one-on-one education; it affords the teacher time to work with the student as an individual and tailor the education precisely to his or her level of developmental ability. I’m sure that’s what Leopold did with young Amadeus, and also what Madame Chopin did with Frederick. Perhaps if these youngsters had instead been pushed into a group setting where they were encouraged to blend in with other students their own age, they never would have developed into the brilliant artists they became.

Another dangerous aspect of the prevailing sentiment is the tendency to mistake Theory for Fact, and confuse Opinion with Knowledge. We all need to keep in mind that Brahms and Scarlatti probably didn’t have access to a gathering drum, let alone get together with children their own age to dance ceremonial American Indian dances. Somehow they managed to become outstanding musicians in spite of this educational lapse. While it would strike us that any musical experience would be beneficial, that is not necessarily the case.

While the good folks at this site are truly dedicated teachers who are looking for the best possible means to realize the highest potential of each student, there are other early music educators who are simply trying to profit from the musical naivete of parents. I refer here to offerings that are basically Romper Room activities cloaked in pedagogical jargon. Instead of empowering parents to create a stimulating musical environment for their children, these teachers would imply that only they, the all-knowing musically superior pedagogue, can truly facilitate a game of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with teacherly finesse. Many of the aforementioned sites DO seem to be trying to make a buck or two in an underhanded way...that is, they aren’t exactly forthcoming about what they offer or what will actually be attained by the student, but you can (gulp) “pay now and find out later.” They also seem to be preying upon parents who are over-anxious in making their children into little prodigies.

Is it possible that the early music education program of the future will be one that educates parents rather than children? However, if the parents knew how to create the ideal musical environment, it would render early childhood music programs obsolete, so maybe there’s silence on that issue, brought about through the interest of self-preservation.

I’ll keep recommending Kindermusik, Musikgarten, and especially Dalcroze to those over-eager parents of students who aren’t quite ready for piano lessons. But this doesn’t mean I think any of these programs are necessarily the ideal model of musical learning. There are aspects of learning in groups that are terrific, as we can witness in Montessori schools, where the individual is still recognized. But it is questionable as to if any of the pre-fab music programs now popular accomplish anything of real significance. Well, I might be wrong there, they definitely generate some revenue, don't they?

[ July 23, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 09:15 PM

Wish I were clever enough to pick up on these "hidden agendas"... I do so enjoy observing a good ulterior motive. :p

Could somebody tell me what books I could read about these various methods I keep hearing about? Dalcroze, Kodaly, Gordon, etc. Or are they all the same thing? And are they specifically group programs, or methods that can be modified for private lessons or groups? You guys have got me so confused...

[ July 23, 2002: Message edited by: Ars Nova ]
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 09:48 PM

A quick primer:

Kodaly - A developmental approach towards music education developed by Zoltan Kodaly in Hungary that involves the use of solfege, Curwin hand signs, and folk song material appropriate to the common musical language of the children being taught. (Kodaly's work was originally done with Hungarian folk music, but the method has been adapted to use American folk music in the United States.)
http://www.oake.org

Dalcroze - A system of music education developed by Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. It uses "Eurythmics" - a system of movement education and awareness, solfege, and improvisation to promote the freedom and depth of expression inherent in music.
http://www.dalcrozeusa.org/

Music Learning Theory - Developed by Dr. Edwin Gordon, MLT is a well-researched and documented theory on how children acquire musical ability. It is based on the principle of audiation (internalized musical thoughts and feelings) and includes both a well sequenced taxonomy of musical words and phrases and a methodology for teaching them. MLT shares many ideas with Kodaly and Suzuki, and takes into account more current research in child development.

Suzuki Method - Also called the "Mother Tongue" approach, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki's method seeks to help children acquire musical ability (originally on violin) the same way they acquire linguistic skills - through immersion and repetition. The Suzuki method requires a great deal of parental involvement, as it is they, along with the teacher, who bear the responsibility of encouraging and nurturing the student through and towards a musical life.
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 10:41 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:
Wish I were clever enough to pick up on these "hidden agendas"


Hee hee! Of course, I'm guilty of overstatement. There's nothing "hidden" there.....it's just a plain old agenda. ;\)

Jason, thanks for the straightforward and "fair and balanced" reporting! Finally, some actual information! ;\) \:D \:\)

Lisa K. Studtmann, thanks for the much-needed reprimand! Good luck keeping this group in line! \:D

[ July 23, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/23/02 10:54 PM

 Quote:
By Eric:
I notice a tendency that a lot of the early music education sites I’ve visited tend to, put children into little “boxes” that limit them.


I disagree. These early childhood music methods are addressing the way children learn. A 3-year-old learns quite differently than a 6-year-old, who in turn learns differently from a 9-year-old. These methods are not 'putting kids in little boxes'. They are recognizing how children learn, how their brains function at a given age. This knowledge only makes me a better music educator.


 Quote:
Instead of empowering parents to create a stimulating musical environment for their children, these teachers would imply that only they, the all-knowing musically superior pedagogue, can truly facilitate a game of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with teacherly finesse.


I disagree. If you've ever participated in a MG, Kindermusik, Harmony Road, Yamaha, or Music for Young Children class, the first thing you'll notice is active parent participation. In fact, one the goals of these programs is helping parents take an active role in their child's musical education; taking the activities done in class and applying them at home. How often have we, as private teachers, chided (in our head) those parents who are uninterested, uninvolved in their child's music lessons; who are content with dropping off their child each week, but aren't really involved? You won't find that with these early childhood programs.
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 05:22 AM

I think you will find it though. An early childhood class can only involve the parent for 1, maybe 2 hours a week. It's the rest of the week that's the most valuable.

I think far too many parents treat early childhood music classes like they treat church: God-fearing Christian on Sunday mornings, lazy sinner the rest of the time.

 Quote:
Originally posted by alidoremi:
How often have we, as private teachers, chided (in our head) those parents who are uninterested, uninvolved in their child's music lessons; who are content with dropping off their child each week, but aren't really involved? You won't find that with these early childhood programs.
Posted by: Lisa K. Studtmann

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 06:11 AM

I would like to add some food for thought that was not included in Jason's excellent summary. Regarding Kodaly and Gordon, there is a H U G E gap where the use of language is concerned. Kodaly stresses the richness of the mother tongue, whatever that may be, as an integral part of the learning and growth process. Gordon, on the other hand, stresses that the research tells us children learn the audiation process best with an absence of language - that is, songs without words or nonsense syllables with melodies. Observing Gordon and Kodaly early classes leaves one with an impression of marked difference in the experience of the child, despite the fact that the two seem related on paper.

Not that I would wish to stir the pot, :rolleyes: but what is your experience, dear teachers, with very young children and language? Do you have a preference for mother tongue or nuetral syllable for folk songs?
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 07:00 AM

I hope that my questions don't make me seem like I don't think there is any merit whatsoever in these early childhood education programs. That wasn't what I intended to imply. I'm sure that most children derive some benefits from these programs. I'm just not convinced that all children need to be enrolled in these programs to develop musically.

For the last several years, I've been referring parents of young 4.5- & 5-year-old children to Kindermusik teachers (I don't know any Musikgarten teachers, or I'd refer them to that as well). However, I keep getting calls from parents who want private lessons for their children. Some seek out private teachers because their children don't feel comfortable in a group setting. Others tell me, "I don't want to pay $XX per hour just to have a teacher sing & play with my child." So what to do? Refuse to teach these children & have them either fall through the cracks (their parents most definitely aren't going to enroll them in any sort of group class) or have them go to another piano teacher who is willing to teach them? No, I'm not an early childhood education expert. Not even close. But I come from a very large family, I've been around kids all my life (children's church, children's church choir, Sunday School, etc.), I have 4 children of my own, & I've been teaching piano for over a decade. If other private piano teachers can teach kids this age (& I know for a fact that some of them do), I think I can, too. I'm not the "right" teacher for every child. I'd never make that sort of claim. But if a parent comes to me with a child that I think I can work with, I'm not going to turn them away.

I'm not going to put kids in a box, either. Piano Kid was doing many things at age 4 that some "experts" say she shouldn't have been developmentally ready to do. This in itself makes me not want to take a lot of what the "experts" say as gospel. While I'm open to different teaching methods, I question everything, esp. when some pedagogue implies that his/her method fits all.
Posted by: arsnova02

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 07:45 AM

Thanks, Jason. That gives me a general idea of what y'all are talking about. \:\) Didn't these brilliant pedagogues write any books? I thought it was just an unspoken rule that if you were going to come up with your own original theory you had to write a book about it... I checked the websites. I just don't like reading long, drawn out pieces of information from a computer screen.

Two questions, totally out of curiosity, that are probably straying from the topic, but I think we've probably already done that anyway:

1. Why the obsession with early-childhood education? Why all the theories and research and arguments specifically over how to teach 4&5 year olds? Why don't we have specialized teaching techniques for adolescents, or late teens, or adults, or elementary school children? Yes, 4&5 year olds learn differently than other students, but so do all the other groups mentioned above. So what's the big deal?

2. All these differences of method that educators argue over -- do they really make a difference? If Suzy is dancing to folk songs in a group class when she's four, and Johnny is clapping various rhythms to a CD in a private lesson at the same age, will their rhythmic efficiency really be different when they're 16 and playing Beethoven sonatas? Will their sense of pitch be significantly different if one learns ear training through solfege and the other through intervallic reading?

Just wondering... ;\)
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 08:21 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:

1. Why the obsession with early-childhood education? Why all the theories and research and arguments specifically over how to teach 4&5 year olds? Why don't we have specialized teaching techniques for adolescents, or late teens, or adults, or elementary school children? Yes, 4&5 year olds learn differently than other students, but so do all the other groups mentioned above. So what's the big deal?


Good question, Ars. My guess is that we adults are more comfortable making very broad generalizations of the very young than we are of people who can dispute our theory. In other words, if I said "Here's how 18-year-old girls learn," you would be able to stand up and say, "Well, that doesn't appeal to ME, you're theory must not be a universal truth!" But not many 3 year-olds are gonna say, "Hey wait a minute, don't put me in a little box!"

I think we are comfortable with Ageism, while we're uncomfortable with other forms of categorization. For example, in the scholarly treatise The Bell Curve, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray found that children of Asian descent learn differently than children of African descent; the two groups ideally would benefit from a vastly different type of education. But NO ONE is comfortable with this study, even though it's dealing in cold hard facts and a high standard of scientific inquiry. So we're uncomfortable with racism (thank goodness!) but we feel fine doing the same thing but basing it on age, instead. (Er, as long as it's not our age.....don't tell ME that I'm at the same developmental level as other 42 year-olds!) \:D

[ July 24, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 08:35 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:
Two questions, totally out of curiosity, that are probably straying from the topic, but I think we've probably already done that anyway:

1. Why the obsession with early-childhood education? Why all the theories and research and arguments specifically over how to teach 4&5 year olds? Why don't we have specialized teaching techniques for adolescents, or late teens, or adults, or elementary school children? Yes, 4&5 year olds learn differently than other students, but so do all the other groups mentioned above. So what's the big deal?


There's quite a bit of work being done on adult teaching, actually. Also, Dalcroze and Kodaly never stopped at age 6, both go all the way up - Kodaly at least through grade 6 and Dalcroze through adolescence.

The real reason though is that young children start out more or less at the same place. A class of adolescents will contain students with very different backgrounds, and it's difficult to come up with a method that works well with that.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ars Nova:
2. All these differences of method that educators argue over -- do they really make a difference? If Suzy is dancing to folk songs in a group class when she's four, and Johnny is clapping various rhythms to a CD in a private lesson at the same age, will their rhythmic efficiency really be different when they're 16 and playing Beethoven sonatas? Will their sense of pitch be significantly different if one learns ear training through solfege and the other through intervallic reading?


Probably not. The practitioners of all educational methods have the same goal in mind - to produce musically educated individuals. Choosing one over the other is mostly a matter of choice. I (obviously) happen to prefer a Kodaly approach. It's how I learned, it's how I like to teach, and it works. John's a big MLT fan, so he uses that. The argument is not whether Kodaly students end up better than MLT students, the important point is that they'll both end up better off (on average) than students with no early systematized instruction.


Okay, now I'm going to say something ugly. I'm not saying early childhood programs are bad, I like them - but consider the following as an important factor in the popularity of group childhood programs:

Musikgarten classes for toddlers might have a 10 week semester, average 6-8 students per class and last a half hour. I found a price of $65 tuition for one such program that offers 4 such classes.

Let's do some math!

7 students x 4 classes x $65 = $1820
4 classes x 1/2 hour x 10 weeks = 20 hours
I'll even add an hour of class prep time per week, so that's another 10 hours.
$1820 / 20+10 = $60.67

That's right, teaching Musikgarten can net you SIXTY bucks an hour. You have to spend $500 or so on their training program, but just one class practically pays for itself. Considering most early music training programs and seminars basically tell you what to do, you don't even have to do a lot of lesson planning.

There are a LOT of teachers and a LOT of preparatory programs that rely on group classes to make ends meet. Expanding the age range down also gives them more potential customers. So early music programs, while good for kids, are also very good for teachers' bank accounts.

BTW...I don't mean to pick on Musikgarten specifically, Kindermusik, MFYC, etc. all work similarly.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 10:17 AM

Some points that seem to be absent in all of the above ballyhoo:

It is possible to LOVE working with young children (3-6), and tremendously ENJOY working with their emerging personalities and bubbling minds. What drives people to dedicate their life's work to this rewarding field is a love of children and a love of music. (I think ALL of our comments above, including mine, reflect VOLUMES about each author's world view).

Participating in a 75-minute group class (like MMK) does not preclude individual attention or assignments tailored to each child's skill level.

Regarding group instruction, children 6-9 WANT to be part of a group, especially one of peers. The learning and teaching that occurs between the children THEMSELVES has much more impact and resonance than guidance stemming ONLY from the teacher him or herself.

Singing is so fundamental to developing musical skills, and singing with a group is relaxed and fun. Singing alone can cause anxiety since so much attention is fixed on accuracy.

What I find surprising is that I had NO INTENTION of becoming a MG teacher. I was writing my own method, looked over theirs, and realized that MG was using MLT in the way I wanted. What sold me was the CDs themselves. While I was already creating MIDI files, I could NEVER hire the musicians and record CDs with the variety of acoustic instruments and vocalists.

Ultimately (I hope) all of us choose curricula based largely on the MUSIC ITSELF. The pedagogy comes from us (not the book), but the music does not. We have to LOVE the music to effectively teach it!

(Ain't this thread a hoot? What a group we have here!)

[ July 24, 2002: Message edited by: John ]
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 01:05 PM

Ars: Your questions are all valid. People are different, no matter what age they are. IMO, teaching young children should be approached with the same teaching philosophy that is used for teaching older people: what works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another, & a group music study program may not be appropriate for everyone.

Jason: Perhaps the big bucks that teachers make from giving group classes explains why so many teachers are now getting on the "group lesson" bandwagon.

John: Do you really think it's safe to say that all children aged 6-9 want to be in a group? And even if they did, would it be accurate to say that kids prefer group lessons over private lessons for everything they learn & for every single activity they participate in?

Final thought: Who am I to tell a parent what is best for his/her child? I can make suggestions, but the final decision is made by the parent, not by me.
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 02:15 PM

OK, my undies are now in a wad.

What's the problem with a teacher netting $60 per hour? How much do you pay your physician, your dentist, your accountant, or your attorney? Are music teachers just not as 'professional'? Do we all still have the mentality of the little old eccentric lady down the street giving piano lessons?

The above-mentioned professionals went to college, had special training, and experience to charge what they do for their services. In turn, I also have a college degree, various training and background in early childhood, and have 25 years of teaching experience behind me. I am a specialist in my field, a field in which very few music teachers would dare venture into.

I take issue with the notion that music teachers get into group teaching primarily because it's 'lucrative' financially. As John said, teachers who teach early childhood classes do so because they love teaching that age group and they know how to relate to little ones.

Maybe the problem isn't so much how much group classes are going for, but rather, how little private teachers are charging for their services.
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 02:55 PM

Um...I never said there was anything wrong with making $60 an hour, nor did I say that was the primary reason teachers go into group teaching. I said it was an important factor - like you said, there are bills that need paying, and group lessons are a good way to do that.

The programs themselves are aware of this. The following statement comes from the Kindermusik website:

 Quote:
"With her own private practice, Elaine wanted to offer group classes to help integrate her clients with children who are non-disabled. She found Kindermusik’s focus on process rather than performance matched her own approach. And it’s an effective way to supplement her practice income."
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 04:23 PM

I never said there was anything wrong with it, either. My prospective clients have been saying it, though. Lubbock is an ag. hub city out in the middle of nowhere, & it appears to be economically depressed (if the secretarial salaries at TTU, which are less than what I was making when I quit my job at UF back in 1990, & the prices some LMTA piano teachers charge for private lessons, are any indication). The people here apparently don't want to pay much for lessons. Do you blame them, when some teachers are charging as little as $25/month for 30-minute weekly private lessons? That's what I & every other piano teacher here in town has to contend with. I don't tell prospective parents that I think $XX per hour is too much. I don't make any comments at all. I just tell them what I have to offer & let them decide what they want to do. I raised my rates so that I would not be charging less than most LMTA teachers. I get plenty of calls from parents who evidently are bargain hunting (shopping by price). Most people that call don't end up calling me back once they find out how much I charge. But I look at it this way: those people aren't going to think of me as anything more than a babysitter or maid, & they're going to be pains in the you-know-what to work with. So I choose to go with a higher fee. Less students, yes, but also less headaches.

I can readily see why group teaching is attractive to many piano teachers. It just doesn't motivate me.

I'm sorry that it's uncomfortable for you to read what's on the mind of some parents, that they don't want to pay $XX per hour for a teacher to dance & sing with their kids. But that's what I'm hearing this Summer. This is reality. This is the real world--at least the real world in Lubbock, TX. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not in FL anymore. I'm in an ag. hub city surrounded by cotton fields.

[ July 24, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/24/02 10:06 PM

I know there are music programs where even the kids ages 6 and up are just doing the singing, dancing, theory games, etc... but not learning an instrument. They've had music/movement classes since they were toddlers (and that was great for them back then) but now at age 6 or 7 the parents expect more out of a music program, like actually learning to play something. This is when they typically leave these music programs to seek out lessons elsewhere.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 07:26 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by alidoremi:
I know there are music programs where even the kids ages 6 and up are just doing the singing, dancing, theory games, etc... but not learning an instrument. They've had music/movement classes since they were toddlers (and that was great for them back then) but now at age 6 or 7 the parents expect more out of a music program, like actually learning to play something. This is when they typically leave these music programs to seek out lessons elsewhere.


John says that the children that leave these programs must go to the "right" teacher if they want to learn to play an instrument. If what he says is correct, then does that mean these kids can't take traditional piano lessons (i.e., take from piano teachers who use a traditional teaching method with numerical counting, etc.)? What I'm wondering is if the early childhood music programs prepare these children for traditional private piano instruction (where rhythm is clapped rather than danced to, etc.) Who are the "right" teachers for these children? Suzuki teachers? Teachers who combine Dalcroze, Kodaly, etc. with traditional lesson material? Who? Is Musikgarten, Kindermusik, etc. like Special Ed.?

Don't get me wrong here. I'm all for incorporating Dalcroze, etc. into my curriculum. I'm already doing some of that, & plan to do more of it. I'm just wondering whether the students who are taught in this fashion ever get to the point where they can learn the traditional way (i.e., abandon the body movement stuff & start clapping out rhythms like most folks do).
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 08:43 AM

When a student transfers out of my Harmony Road studio, I am also concerned that he find the "right" private teacher. Here's what I mean:

I want a teacher who is familiar with the program I teach and the way my student has been learning music the past couple of years. My student may not be counting "1-2-3-4", as is traditionally taught, but rather "tahn, tahn, tuh-tuh, tahn". But he does know how to count. My student reads solfege rather than letter names, but he does read music. My student can transpose songs w/melody and harmony into 5 different keys. Is that of any significance to the prospective teacher? My student has received a lot of ear training and loves to compose. My student loves to make bass clef variations of the chords in his songs (broken chords, alberti, waltz bass, etc..) My student can "comp" (RH playing chords, LH bass notes) while singing words or solfege.

Although each teacher has a different style and way of teaching (and may emphasize one concept over another), many times I've sent students on to private teachers who didn't understand all the child had been doing up til then, but they knew that child would need to "learn his letter names", or "learn how to count correctly". This happened to my own daughter. She'd been in the program since she was 4; I moved her to private lessons at age 8. The first thing the teacher did was insist that the solfege training she'd had was useless (as nobody uses solfege anymore), and that she needed to switch to letter names ASAP. She wasn't interested in all the things she'd been learning up to that point, only how she could get her to "fit" into her Alfred method book. We lasted 3 months, then I continued to teach her privately myself.

I've found 2 teachers in my town who teach privately, but are familiar with HR and love to take students on, without tearing down everything they've learned, just because it's "different" from a more traditional way of teaching.
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 09:36 AM

alidoremi,

I'm sorry to hear the plight of your daughter. It's really a shame that a teacher out there would be so dismissive about the skills a new student brings with them. Even if this teacher doesn't use solfege, she doesn't have to TELL your daughter that it's "useless"!! I can't believe you stayed with her for three months.

Like that teacher, however, when a new student comes to me, after getting acquainted with the topography of the keyboard, singing, and playing some rote pieces, I then begin to teach the letter names of the notes.

I would hope if a student came to me with four years of music study behind them, they'd be a little beyond this, but so far I've found all second or third-grade beginners able to learn the note names. At what point in your system do you teach that? When, according to the experts, is a child developmentally ready to learn that?
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 09:46 AM

Are most piano teachers really that rigid? When I taught piano lessons in Costa Rica, I used U.S. piano method books because none were available in the music stores down there except Michael Aaron. Even though I was accustomed to teaching kids to read notes using letter names, I quickly switched to solfege when I found out that's what was being used in the school system. What difference does it make what they call a key, as long as when they see a note on the staff, they can find its correct location on the keyboard? Same with counting. As long as they can learn to play a rhythmic pattern correctly on the piano, I don't care what method I have to use to get them to that point (tapping, clapping, dancing) or what counting system they use.

Perhaps you could give a workshop for your local music teachers association & explain what your teaching method is all about. If any teachers came to you after the workshop to learn more about using Harmony Road, you could educate them. That way, they'd know how to handle transfer students who come to them from Harmony Road. You could refer your students to the teachers who express genuine interest in this. The teachers who don't express interest just won't get any referrals from you. Surely there are more than 2 teachers who'd benefit from knowing more about Harmony Road. Or maybe I'm naive, as I assume most piano teachers are willing to do whatever it takes to get their students to learn.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 09:58 AM

I think most students can learn letter names for notes & traditional numeric counting, but that perhaps they won't want to if they don't understand why they should. I find that most students are willing to do so when I tell them that all over the U.S. (esp. in band & in choir) letter names are used for notes & numbers are used for counting. Having said that, if I had a transfer student who learned a different system before coming to me, I'd start from what the student already knew & go from there. My philsophy has always been to meet students where they are & lead them where they need to go.

In a country like Costa Rica, where no one uses letter names for notes, there's no sense in confusing kids by teaching them both solfege & letter names. I used to tell them the letter names of the notes, just so they'd know that a different system is used in the U.S. But I never made them learn it. As long as they learned the solfege system used in the school system, I was happy.
Posted by: John

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 10:28 AM

I don't think using solfege or letter names is an "either/or" issue; both are needed, but how one presents and uses each is paramount. One major difference of solfege over letter names is how solfege puts each tone in a tonal context; letters do not.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 11:23 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by John:
I don't think using solfege or letter names is an "either/or" issue; both are needed, but how one presents and uses each is paramount. One major difference of solfege over letter names is how solfege puts each tone in a tonal context; letters do not.


How can you say that? I never knew about solfege (except for the song "Do, a deer...") until I moved to Costa Rica & my kids started learning it in school. At only 9 months of age, I was whistling tunes. I never attended preschool or anything; just church. I started kindergarten at the average age of 5. At age 7, my mother put me in very traditional piano lessons ("good old" :rolleyes: John Thompson Teaching Little Fingers How to Play was my first lesson book). Somehow or other, in spite of the fact that I never learned solfege, I was able to sing, then later play the piano both by ear & by note [just ask my 2nd teacher, who took me out of JT when I started lessons with her at age 9, & taught me for the next 9 years. She'll tell you how I used to come to lessons & play by ear, thinking she wouldn't notice that I hadn't practiced & was not really reading the notes! \:o I remember her saying, "You didn't practice this week, did you?" & me wondering how she knew. \:o ;\) That's when she adopted the "Thou shalt never play by ear" philosophy, & for very good reason], then later transpose piano pieces in my head (never on paper) & transcribe music that I heard from recordings onto paper, teach myself how to sing alto (at age 12) so I could sing in the adult choir, etc. I was taking traditional classial piano lessons like everyone else was back then, yet I was able to do all this stuff. And I was never taught to associate pitch with solfege syllables, or to read music by intervals, or any of the other newly adopted method stuff (except that my teacher did teach me to read music by recognizing patterns & to feel rhythmic pulses instead of rigidly counting beats & subbeats; she also used words to help me learn rhythm, such as "trip-o-let" for triplet, etc.). I don't think I'm gifted, & I don't think my experiences are unique. Many people have learned to improvise, sing on pitch, etc. without being systematically taught to improvise, sing on pitch, etc.

Maybe many people benefit from solfege, but that doesn't mean that all students need it, &/or that if they're not taught solfege, they won't be able to "put each tone in a tonal context." Some students are able to figure these things out by themselves, John.

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 11:36 AM

I second what John said. And I also agree with Jalapeno! Solfege alone is not enough, note names need to be learned also. But I agree with Jalapeno, solfege itself is not a requirement. Like Jalapeno and so many other people, my only acquaintance with it prior to college was The Sound of Music!

Solfege is great in that the names of the notes have a tonal context. Of course, that is only the case when using a Movable Do; I don't see any real benefit in learning a Fixed Do, since it's basically doing the same thing as using note names. And I figure, if you're gonna teach names for all the keys, you might as well teach, as Jalapeno pointed out, the names that are commonly used in our langauge and culture.

So, to share a common vocabulary with the student, you'll need to have a name, let's say, for the note on the bottom line of the treble cleff staff. You could call it Mi, but only in the key of.....what?? In order to establish when it is Mi you have to have a name of the key in which it lives.....thus the handy note names.

The other approach (which would be very confusing) would be to use a Fixed Do to name the key you're in and then switch to a movable Do to name the pitches therein. I can't quite imagine saying that the second space of the treble clef staff is "Mi in the Key of Fa", but I can understand the benefit of calling it Mi in the Key of F.

I just call it A!

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 12:20 PM

You do benefit from learning both solfege and letter names; I prefer students learn solfege first. However, I refer to the "key" of a song in letter names (Key of C scale would be "do", Key of F on "fa", Key of A minor on "la", etc...), so that students are familiar with the letter names, and eventually transferring over completely isn't a big deal. In fact, I've had students (my daughter being one of them) who learn a band instrument at school (where it's strictly letter names), but when she goes to piano lesson she reads the same staff in solfege. Figure that one.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 03:32 PM

The solfege system used in Costa Rica is fixed do. No, Eric, there's no advantage to using it except to be consistent with what's being taught everywhere else in society. Down there, if you listen to classical music on the radio, you'll hear them announce a piece in the "Clave de Sol Mayor" (key of G Major) or "Clave de Do menor" (key of C minor) or whatever. You never hear letter names mentioned. I saw no earthly reason to confuse kids with letter names when the only place they were going to use letter names was in my piano studio.

My European & Latin American students wanted to learn solfege because that was what they were accustomed to, so they were taught with solfege syllables rather than letter names. The American & Canadian students I taught wanted to learn the letter names, so that's what I did with them. FYI, the American & Canadian students learned to read music faster than the European & Latin American students. I believe it might have been because with letter names, I could have them spell words, & because they already knew the first 7 letters of the English alphabet. You can't spell words with solfege syllables, & there aren't many Spanish words you can spell with the first 7 letters of the English alphabet.

If there's any benefit to learning both the letter names & the solfege syllables, it's just to know the letter names & the solfege syllables. Learning solfege hasn't made me a better sightreader, a better singer, or a better anything. It's made me a tad bit smarter, I suppose, in that I now know both the letter names & the solfege syllables. Big whoop! :rolleyes: ;\)

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Jalapeño ]
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 03:46 PM

Jala,
I hear ya, but I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here. I'm gonna start a new thread where we can really hammer out clear definitions, purposes, assets and liabilities of Solfege.
Eric
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 03:48 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
Jala,
I hear ya, but I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here. I'm gonna start a new thread where we can really hammer out clear definitions, purposes, assets and liabilities of Solfege.
Eric


Thanks, Eric. That would be most helpful. \:\)
Posted by: Eric

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/25/02 09:17 PM

In keeping with Jason's fair and balanced reporting, the following study gives a similarly balanced view of the possible benefits of early music education, including participation of Gordon


A Study on Early Childhood Music Education

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Eric ]
Posted by: Lilla

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/26/02 08:19 AM

Thanks, Eric, for a good comprehensive overview. I've printed it and will read at my leisure. Also, thanks for the unintentional trip down memory lane. Freiburg, Germany!! The first stop on the train from Strasbourg and right before Heidelburg. I spent many a weekend in Frieberg as a student because people were friendlier and the surroundings were more agreeable than our side of the Rhine. (In case I've lost you, check out the URL)

[ July 26, 2002: Message edited by: Lilla ]
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/27/02 02:15 PM

It's not. Both Kodaly and Dalcroze practice use both solfege and letter names. (Solfege first, then letter names later...)

 Quote:
Originally posted by John:
I don't think using solfege or letter names is an "either/or" issue; both are needed, but how one presents and uses each is paramount. One major difference of solfege over letter names is how solfege puts each tone in a tonal context; letters do not.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/27/02 04:34 PM

Students who are not taught both letter names & solfege are not properly taught? Is that what you're saying? If so, then I beg to differ with you, because I (& many others like me) managed to learn to play & sing--both by note & by ear--with just the letter names. To say that students need to go to the "right" teacher so they can be taught both solfege & letter names is pure, unadulterated propaganda (most likely spread by zealots looking for ways to make money).
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/27/02 04:36 PM

I think I'm in deep cyber doo doo now. :rolleyes: ;\) \:D
Posted by: Jason

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/27/02 08:09 PM

You are! I NEVER said that a student without solfege and letter were improperly taught.

Maybe I should put it like this:

Kodaly and Dalcroze realized that a system of solmization aided in training the ear and voice.

They also knew that musicians needed to know the note names for practical reasons, so they taught that too.

The approaches are developmental in the early years, and practical in the later years. It's not the only way to do it, but it's a good way, and it works.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 07/28/02 07:44 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Jason:
You are!


I meant with John, not with everyone else. ;\) I think that's evident by the :p faces he keeps inserting in his posts.

Jason, I agree with you. I just don't think solfege is something to get dogmatic about. It's one thing to say that something is useful. For example: Using slogans (Every Good Boy Does Fine, etc.) to teach children to read music is useful, but it's not the only way to teach them to read. Same with solfege. It has its place, but many people learn how to sing without learning solfege. If you're ga-ga about using solfege, then just state the reasons why solfege works & leave it at that. You'll win more followers that way. It's quite another thing to get all hot under the collar when people (who learned to sight-sing very well before they even knew what solfege was) start asking questions. Implying that solfege is all-important in children's musical education turns some people off.
Posted by: LMC

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 08/08/02 02:18 PM

I just have to put in my two cents worth.

Most of the parents of 3,4,and 5 year olds are of the generation that probably did not have music in their schools because that was the trend in the 1980's. That is why in 1979 I quit teaching in the public schools. Budget cuts were wiping out music programs left and right.

Most of the parents of these children waited to have their family until they could "afford" it. They wanted to work on their careers and have their homes fully furnished with money in the bank before bringing any children into the picture.

Because they had/have the money they want to enroll their children in any and every program that seems to care for their precious little ones. Without the background of movement to music, rhythm bands, singing and dancing, these parents often don't know how to do these things with their children. Besides the children are surrounded by material possessions that the parents and grandparents have lavished upon them. So these kids rarely have a moment to audiate and experience sound much less sway to the beat of any music.

Many of the parents spend their days at work and dedicate their afternoons and evenings to programs for their children. Even in those homes where the Mom has decided to stay at home for the children they are not "Stay at Home Moms". They take their children to "Play Dates", "Mothers Day Out" and (your guessed it) "Group Lessons".

So these programs really fill a niche.

There are some music teachers who should teach this age child and those who should not. I would never try to persuade those on one side of this fence to change.

I happen to love little ones and really enjoy teaching them. I use Music For Little Mozarts, Bastiens' Invitation to Music, Sing & Play, Alfred's Prep Course and Musikgarten materials in my lessons. In addition I refer to my college textbooks other Early Childhood materials. I currently teach 4 pre-schoolers, 4 kindergarteners and a bunch of first graders in addition to all of my other students. I teach them all in private lessons except once a month when I hold group classes broken down by ages.

I would love to start some early childhood group classes. But I wouldn't know what to do with the graduates. My schedule if FULL to the max.

Well that is more like $20 dollars worth. So I'll bow out now.
Posted by: Jalapeño

Re: Music Makers: At The Keyboard - 08/08/02 02:51 PM

Yes, these programs do fill a niche. No doubt about that. But it's sad, IMO, that parents either can't or won't spend time engaging in musical activities with their children. It doesn't take much talent, does it, to go to a music store & buy a couple of classical CDs, come home & listen to them with your child? That would be a step in the right direction. It seems to me that parents are more interested in paying others to raise their children, rather than raising their children themselves. Now that I've stuck both feet in my mouth, I'll shut up. \:o