This is why you should not learn to read music first

This is why you should not learn to read music first

Should All Music Students Learn to Read Music?

As a music teacher, I’m often asked about reading music.  Some parents want to know,”Will my child learn to read music?”  These are usually parents who have had musical training and see the benefits of being able to read music from the last 1000 years of music literature!

Music notation is an incredible invention.  It is so concise, brief and elegant in it’s description of what would have been a lost experience.  But that’s the problem.  It’s so concise and symbolic, you need years of training, practice and conceptual development to simply read music.  It’s well worth the effort though.  Learning to read music unlocks the doors to vaults and vaults of incredible music by the masters from Bach to Mozart to Beethoven to Stravinsky to Bernstein to Miles, Bird and Lin-Manuel Miranda, to name just a few.

But My Favorite Rock Star Can’t Read Music

Others want to know if they “have to learn to read music.”  This is usually from parents who struggled with reading music and really did not enjoy the process.

I can see both points of view.  While yes, there is a great value in learning to read music, many of the greatest musicians cannot read standard music notation.  Paul McCartney is just one example.  And no one would ever claim Sir Paul is not a “real musician” or songwriter.

The Old School Traditional Way

Traditional music teachers often start with reading music. They want to do this because it is teacher-centric. It’s easier for teachers as there’s so much music written with traditional notation.

Music notation is over 1000 years old!

Ye Olde Songs…yawn

So, often, this old school, easy way for teachers, is also focused on older music.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But, if you want to connect with younger students, you need to find a common ground.  You need to connect them with their music.  No, you can’t start immediately on the latest songs on the radio.  But you can accelerate the learning to get to that goal much quicker.

 

This is why you should not learn to read music first
This is an example of Bach’s handwritten notation from back in the 1600’s!

 

Accelerate Learning Techniques for Music

At Park Slope Music Lessons, we feel that to present the written music first is backwards. It’s like teaching grammar rules before even learning to say hello!

Our curriculum, the Musicolor Method®, works by giving students an experience of playing first, while building up technique and then gradually presenting the language of music through games and activities. It’s much more entertaining and twice as effective!

By empowering children of all ages to immediately start playing, there’s a huge boost of confidence.  Emotion is part of all learning.  How do you feel if you don’t get it?  Dumb?  Confused?  Frustrated?  But what if you could learn to play a simple song within the first five minutes of your first lesson?

Take a look at our videos, and the rest of our site.  You will see we have helped so many kids here in Brooklyn and now around the world learn to make music in a manner more organic, fun and fast.

Life Skills Through Music

And that leads to building life skills transferrable to school, work…everything!

Can special needs children learn to play an instrument?

Music lessons for special needs children?

If you ask the average music teacher about special needs children as students, you may get a blank stare. There isn’t much literature focused on this. Children with special needs may include those with learning disabilities, developmental issues, as well as those on the Autism spectrum.

At Park Slope Music Lessons, we’ve had several students with special needs. Our Musicolor Method® has proven to be a great way for these children to learn music where other teachers/methods have failed.


Can a special needs student learn to play piano?  

Absolutely!

“I still can’t believe you got my son to play with all 10 fingers in a single lesson! He is so excited and practicing every day on his own. Our previous teachers were all trying to get him to play one finger the whole time. He was bored and frustrated!”
Parent of a 5 year old student

Take a look at some of the videos of our past recitals, music salons and read our blog posts.  You will see we have helped so many kids learn music in a way that is fun, fast and supportive.  It doesn’t matter if your kld is or isn’t a prodigy, we make learning music an organic process.  And it all activates life skills that are transferrable to school, work and life!

How we use the Musicolor Method to teach special needs children to make music with fun and ease.
Musicolor Alphabet Cards, one of many physical games/tools we use to teach abstract concepts of music

If you have any questions about your child and their specific issues, feel free to contact us.

How to Play London Bridge on the Piano

I’ve started making videos of songs I’m teaching my students as so many of them are visual learners and have the technology to view this at home.  This video is not meant to be a step by step instruction but a reinforcement/memory aid for after the lesson when practicing at home.

Summer 2012 Music Lessons still available

If you are interested in piano, guitar, strumstick, ukelele, voice, songwriting and music theory lessons this summer, there are still slots available.  The summer lesson schedule runs 6 weeks from July 9 through August 16 Monday through Thursdays.  There are morning and afternoon sessions.  Lessons are $60 each or $330 for the full 6 weeks.

Contact me if you are interested.

Play Piano For Kids, Volume 1 iPad interactive book app is now available

An interactive iPad book for young children with their parents, caregivers
Available now at the Apple App store

As many of you know, I’ve been working hard on an interactive iPad iBook for quite some time.  Today Play Piano For Kids, Volume 1 (Penguins Don’t Play Piano, But You Can!) is officially live in 32 countries around the world in the Apple iTunes Bookstore.  It’s on sale for the next week for only 99 cents after which it will go up to $6.99.  Pleases go and take a look and give a review/rating.

Aimed at parents , home-schoolers and teachers of young children aged 3 to 6 years old, the book is really an app which delivers a learning system including audio, video, animations and my unique color system.  It spans the first month and a half of lessons that in my private lessons would cost over $200!   There is no experience required and no need to read traditional music notation.  In fact, the problem with most music books and teachers try to present too much information at once.  By breaking down the learning process into micro steps, I’ve helped hundreds of kids learn to play piano, (and guitar) whilst having proper technique, and learning music theory, traditional notation and even composition.

For those of you who have been unable to get on my roster, this is a great way to virtually start lessons with me.  There’s even a free sample that gives you the first lesson for free.  And this is just the beginning, I’m already working hard on the next volume as well as a support website PlayPianoForKids.com

Feel free to comment!

 

Winter Recital 2012 Success!

It was a great recital last Saturday at the Carroll Gardens Library in Brooklyn.  With 30 students performing and a house of over 100 guests, we had a lovely time and everyone did their best.  Thanks again to all the parents, grandparents, friends and family who came to show their support, love and appreciation of our young performers!  And special thanks to Jeff Schwartz and the entire staff of the Carroll Gardens library who graciously let us use their space and even set up the chairs for us!

 

Here’s some photo highlights.  Videos are posted here.

Students warm up before the music recital
Students warm up before the music recital
Music Students of Park Slope Music Lessons
Lining up to receive award certificates
Giving out awards
Everyone comes onstage
Students at Winter Recital 2012
Winter Recital 2012
Strumstick student Felix
4 year old Felix on Strumstick
Evan & Sienna perform What A Wonderful World
Evan & Sienna perform What A Wonderful World
Ryan performs Katy Perry's Firework
Ryan performs Katy Perry's Firework
Ava performs Lightly Row
Ava gets prepared to play Lightly Row
Stella & Tellulah perform Adele's Someone Like You
Stella & Tellulah perform Adele's Someone Like You

 

 

A Typical Music Lesson – My Approach to Teaching

4 hands are better than 2!

Apologies for the site being down all of last week.  But we’re back!  Here’s a quick update and enjoy the week off for Thanksgiving!

 

As many of you know, in each of my lessons, my aim is to address 3 main areas: repertoire, reading and music theory.

Repertoire

This is building up a collection of pieces that your child can play from memory and perform in public.
It allows us to work on technique and bring music to life whilst giving a great confidence boost and joy in playing. This material I often present using my own color notation which enables your child to learn a piece as quickly as possible and then memorize it. Many of you are using Suzuki material for this repertoire whilst others are working on a combination of Suzuki with jazz, blues, pop and world music.

Reading

To  learn to read music is truly a great skill. To be musically literate opens a whole door to deeper appreciation. Reading music is not as difficult as it seems, but requires a steady practice diet.   I will usually not start this until we’ve been playing a repertoire of about 7 to 10 songs.  I use a proprietary method of notation to get them up to speed quickly with simple and then complex pieces.

Music Theory

This is the nuts and bolts of music. We get under the hood and see how music is structured and built through games, exercises, composition, dictation and listening.  It makes music fun if you know the how and why. It also changes your listening and deepens your appreciation of music. It can be quite abstract at times which is why we have many many activities and games built up over a long period of time.

Listening

I realize not everyone has a massive music collection at home and I’m often asked, “What should we be listening to?” I’ve recently written a series articles for Jill Simeone’s lovely parenting blog Cozy Owl which address, Early Childhood Music, Essential Listening and Music for A Road Trip.

In the near future, I’m hoping to post playlists of Music Every Child Should Hear via this site.

 

NOTE: Winter Music Session

The winter music session is starting on Monday November 28 and will run until February 11.  I will be sending out invitations for the limited openings available to those on the waiting list.   If you would like to join the waiting list, please go to the contact page and click the link.

Free Piano Checklist for Beginners

Many of my students have been forgetting some of the basics around technique.  Here’s a handy chart that you can post by the piano or on the first page of your music notebook.  Probably the most important one I’m finding is sitting the proper distance away from the piano.  Many kids like to sit almost with their bellies touching the piano.  This makes it so much harder for their fingers to be in the right shape to play well.   You should be sitting so that your forearms are about level with the floor, elbows bent and shoulders not hunched or lifted.

Curling the fingers can take some time to remember for the youngest students.  I usually tolerate the flat-fingers for a while until they get a few pieces memorized.

You can download this piano checklist as PDF to print out.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy, make music and have fun!

Andrew

A First Lesson for Piano – Video Clip

If you are currently taking lessons with me, you will know this as the Peanut Butter Sandwich or the Mississippi Hot Dog.

It’s a great first lesson for anyone studying the piano, regardless of age, as it builds finger strength, independence and gets your hands in the proper position.  So much of music is based on muscle memory.  So you may as well get it right from the start without all the bad habits that can lead to muscle fatigue or carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.

[cincopa 10749802]