Music is a language--and like any language, there are many basics which must be mastered prior to advancing to more complex applications. During a course of study, I attempt to cover all areas of musicianship: theory, technique, formal analysis, harmony, ear-training, sight-reading, and a comprehensive study of musical literature in a progressive fashion.
Please bear in mind that no two students are exactly alike, and children (as well as adults) learn at different rates of speed. Even brothers and sisters within families differ radically in motivation and temperament. Therefore, I approach students as individuals and attempt to challenge each according to their own unique potential. Music is not easy and may not always be "fun". However, given sufficient time and structured practice, it does become enjoyable to master the many different aspects of this art.
Piano Adventures® from Faber and Faber has set a new standard for quality educational publications. This innovative and exciting method series continues to enjoy an unprecedented response from teachers and students around the world. Piano Adventures® offers 8 levels plus Accelerated Piano Adventures® for the Older Beginner, Adult Piano Adventures®, and My First Piano Adventure® for the Young Beginner.
My First Piano Adventure for beginning students ages 5 to 6.
My First Piano Adventure captures the child's playful spirit. Fun-filled songs, rhythm games and technique activities develop beginning keyboard skills. My First's three levels, A, B, and C, each have a Lesson Book with CD and a Writing Book.
Piano Adventures for beginning students ages 7 to 9.
All students need the Lesson Book and Theory Book.
Accelerated Piano Adventures for the Older Beginner for older beginners ages 10 and up.
This course begins with Book One, eliminating the use of a primer. The pieces and illustrations are appropriate for an older age. The repertoire is sufficiently different from the basic course to allow two siblings to both use Piano Adventures. The Lesson Book is essential, supported by the Theory Book.
A proficient student in the Accelerated edition may go directly into a PlayTime Piano book midway through the Lesson Book. ("PlayTime" = Level 1) The older beginner progresses from Book 1 to Book 2 of the Accelerated course, then into Level 3A of the basic course.
Adult Piano Adventures for adult beginners.
"All-In-One" books. Book 1 introduces the concepts of music notation, chord playing, rhythm, harmony, and musical form—all through engaging music. Book 2 applies the basics of music theory using "lead sheets" with chord accompaniment patterns. Each unit includes a "3-Minute Technique" page to develop finger dexterity and a "Music Theory" page to develop understanding of rhythm and harmony.
Every student should have an assignment book.
Piano Adventures PracticeTime is fun, effective, and provides correlated listings for the PreTime to BigTime Piano Supplementary Library. Older or advancing students may use the Practice and Progress Assignment Notebook to ensure effective practicing.
Reasons for Studying Piano
The influences of music go far beyond the intellectual and physical development of a child. Music experiences contribute to the growth of well-balanced children in sensitivity, expressiveness, and the spirit essential for functioning in a complicated world. Learning about music in a classroom setting provides growth for children in other areas as well:
1. Confidence and Poise: Music making offers children a chance to perform with and for others, and to develop confidence in their ability to make presentations for groups.
2. Perseverance and Commitment: As children become more skilled in singing, moving and playing instruments, they can see and hear the results of their efforts.
3. Coordination: The many movement activities associated with music experiences develop both small muscles and large muscles. The awareness of internal steady pulse, coordinated with external movements, helps children regulate their behavior.
4. Self-respect and Satisfaction: As musical skills develop, children feel a strong sense of satisfaction in their progress and develop a feeling of self-respect that transfers to other situations in life.
5. Creativity and Self-expression: Music experiences often invite individual creative responses and encourage children's imagination in other creative endeavors.
6. Pride in Achievement: Sharing music with peers and family reinforces the value of each child in the classroom, and children develop a sense of pride in their musical achievements.
7. Concentration and Problem-solving: Learning about music requires concentration and focus. When children are asked to analyze, compare and contrast sounds, they are actively engaged in problem-solving experiences.
8. Fun and Relaxation: Singing, moving, playing instruments and listening to music are all enjoyable experiences. Music making can provide hours of personal entertainment and relaxation throughout one's entire life.
Educators and psychologists from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present have attested to the value of music study on the development of the child. According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), the noted Swiss psychologist, a child's early years are the optimum period for intellectual development. He believed that children and adults think in different ways. During the "pre-operational" learning stage (ages 2-7), children begin to think and react through symbols (language, drama, drawings and dreams). This stage is perfect for starting the process of learning music.
Jerome Bruner (b. 1915), an important American cognitive psychologist, believes that the foundations of any subject can be taught to anybody at any age. In his theories, he places great emphasis on teaching the structure of the subject. He developed a spiral curriculum where general principles are presented and applied to various learning situations in ever-increasing complexity. Learning should be structured to serve the future.
The study of music at a young age is supported by the humanist theories of Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and leads to a fully realized, complete human, person (self-actualized). Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (b. 1943) sets forth a theory that some children seem to "think musically" at a very young age. These children represent a small percentage of our society, but Gardner suggests that the numbers might increase if music were taught at a young age. Young children have the ability to understand music intuitively through performance and/or composition. In addition, they seem to have a genetic predisposition to hear, remember and produce musical patterns regardless of whether of not they are products of musical environments.
Several recent studies show improved spatial-temporal task scores and pattern-recognition scores for children in different age groups who had received piano instruction as compared to the same-age control groups without piano instruction. These studies report that piano instruction is far superior to computer instruction in enhancing a child's abstract reasoning skills necessary for learning science and math. In research reported by Frances Rauscher (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) and associates in the February 1997 issue of Neurological Research, children who had received music instruction (including keyboard lessons) scored higher in spatial task ability than those who had not. The March 1999 issue of Neurological Research describes a study led by Gordon Shaw (University of California, Irvine) which showed improved math scores among elementary school children who took piano lessons.
While the validity of these studies has been rigorously questioned by scholars and researchers, they have received coverage by the press that has raised interest in early childhood music among the general public.
Most importantly, the study of music at a young age increases the quality of the child's early life experiences. Music can soothe, stimulate or entertain children. It provides pleasure, joy and an outlet for creative expression; it helps develop listening and auditory discrimination skills; it contributes to motor skill development (both large muscle and small muscle); and it increases the range and flexibility of the voice. Music can soothe emotions, invite enthusiasm and bring immense pleasure to the listener.
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