Archive | October 2016

From Preschool to Piano

imageAlthough 2-year-olds are young to take formal piano lessons, they are definitely not too young to become familiar with music.

Melody and rhythm can be introduced to toddlers and the sooner the better. Just like a baby needs to hear words in order to learn how to speak, similarly a young child should hear music even before learning to count beats or name notes. A few things my twin toddlers and I have added to our day-to-day life are:

Singing

Every morning and evening we sing the Psalms in our home and often during the day as well. The Psalms have a wide range of emotions (joyful, reflective, mournful, triumphant) and the tunes we choose often reflect the words being sung. Crimond is a tune we sing often for Psalm 23 (audio from sound cloud: https://soundcloud.com/connorq/psalm-23r-tune-crimond).

Rocking back and forth to music is really enjoyable for children and great bonding time as well. Rocking to music helps children feel the beat of music. Remember that beats are steady. And while rocking to a 4/4 song, for example “Old MacDonald had a Farm,” you can just do one rocking motion for the entire 4/4 measure unless it’s a particularly lively song. Also, action songs are engaging. If a child can’t do actions for a particular song, lead them to clap, stomp, point to their toes etc. and after a while see if they will do it on their own. A few songs we sing at home are: Lavender’s Blue, Old MacDonald, If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands, 5 Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day etc.

Xylophones:

I found these for a very inexpensive price at a local shop and they are a fantastic resource for €1.50 each! For now the girls just play little tunes or glissandos across the xylophones. Also I sometimes play for them as well and I noticed that sometimes at least one of the girls would use the mallet to discover what noise objects other than the xylophone would make when tapped. Eventually we can do more activities once the girls can follow more complex instructions. I like Teach Preschool.org’s idea about creating a colour-based xylophone composition (link: http://www.teachpreschool.org/2014/03/colorful-fun-with-musical-notes/).

Piano Time:

Just explore and enjoy playing on the piano! Also, sometimes what we do is listen to the pre-set tracks on our keyboard such as “Turkish March” (the girls still enjoy bouncing along to this one!) or “Twinkle Twinkle” ( which has been a good way to sing the alphabet song to the girls).

In order to learn piano, simple things like knowing the alphabet or sol-fah names, counting, knowing the difference between left and right hand etc. are very important. Recognising colours, being able to hold a pencil etc. are also helpful for various pre-piano music activities. Gaining basic skills will allow more and more music learning to occur. Take small steps but seek to make the toddler years meaningful musically!

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Technique Inspiration and Ear Training Challenge (Free Printable)

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Below you will find a worksheet I created with a particular teenage student in mind. I wanted to make a worksheet that would give her a sort of visual plan and accountability of what should be memorized (I believe that scales should and can be so familiar that they can be played at the drop of a hat). However, I hope this page won’t bog her down with too much fingering. This printable is simply a quick overview of the major scales and if she needs to make more complete fingering charts that can be written somewhere else. I’m sharing it and if it’s helpful to you, brilliant!

Link to PDF file:

technique-inspiration-and-ear-training-challenge-printable

Scales, arpeggios and Chords:

Playing scales with 4 octaves is a good way to become familiar with the whole keyboard. Multiple octave arpeggios are also great but for now I’m only looking for 1-octave arpeggios. I’ve added just a few ideas of how to play scales (contrary motion, rhythmic) but there are truly lots and lots of variations so this is only a short list to keep technique a little more interesting! Scales and chords naturally pair together so I included a pattern to play the most common major chords using each major scale as well.

(Please note, the ** in the printable should read: **RH starts on fingers 2, 3, or 4)

Ear Training Challenge!

In addition to the technique ideas, the last section on the page includes an ear training exercise. Here’s the instructions I wrote:

“Think of your favorite songs. Hum the beginning notes to yourself (either audibly or just singing “in your head”) and see if you can correctly guess the interval between the first two notes. Check your answer using the keyboard by playing the melody by ear.”

Hopefully this will be a fun way to improve aural skills. Part of the reason for making this printable is to give a greater motivation to learn all the scales really well. Also, I hope it’s written in an interesting way that’s straighforward and geared towards this particular students’ needs.