Are music lessons helpful for all children?

InfographicV2-MusicolorMethod -revised

Are music lessons helpful for all children?

“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

Many people think of music as mere entertainment, but I believe learning to make music is a metaphor for learning life skills.

Science has proven the benefits of music lessons to stimulate whole brain development in children more than other activities including sports, science or visual arts. Music lessons provide a structured path for personal development by imparting skills of listening, coordination, focus, pattern-recognition, goal-setting, public performance, and so much more. And this applies to all children, even those on the autism spectrum or attention deficit, dyslexia or other special needs.

Now if you have ever taken music lessons as a child, you may have experienced some difficulty understanding in the beginning. Traditional teaching methods force students to read abstract symbols before learning to play. This can be confusing, overwhelming, and lead to dropping out of lessons altogether. There are so many adults who tell me, “I really wish I had continued with my music lessons.”

Luckily, there is a new way of teaching that enables children, even those who are preliterate or have special needs, to begin playing with confidence and joy immediately.

This way is called the Musicolor Method and aligns with natural modes of learning – think of it as learning to speak before you read. It uses direct-labelling with color as educational scaffolding and simplified notation that grows in complexity as the student progresses. It culminates with reading standard music notation and playing with mastery. The end result is life skills through music with less stress, overwhelm and a lot more fun.

 

InfographicV2-MusicolorMethod -revised

Music can be defined as organized sound and I believe we have a deep, cosmic connection through music and sound. For example, our hearing is the first sense activated in the womb. Also, astronauts discovered that being in space, far away from Earth led to a strange sickness. After close inspection, scientists discovered that Earth has a “sound” ((known as Schumann Resonance – 7.83 Hz) like a giant cosmic cello we synchronize and harmonize with. Adding back an artificial, generated tone normalized these astronauts in space – music is in our DNA!

But even here on firm ground, playing a musical instrument stimulates whole brain thinking, synchronizing left and right hemispheres. A recent study in England has shown that music lessons improve a student’s abilities in all academic subjects and can be quantified as equivalent to a leap forward of one year! While you may not intend for your child to be a concert pianist, having some music lessons in childhood will undoubtedly improve all of their studies.

Since 2007, we at Park Slope Music Lessons have worked with hundreds of students, some as young as 4 or 3 1/2 including many with ASD, ADHD, and/or special needs, learn life skills through music with joy. Come join us!

Brooklyn music lessons for kids – now in more neighborhoods

Brooklyn Music Lessons For Kids - No dogs

Now serving new additional neighborhoods with in-home lessons.

We send patient, kind and caring music teachers to your home in:

  • Bay Ridge
  • Bed Stuy
  • Boerum Hill
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Bushwick
  • Carroll Gardens
  • Cobble Hill
  • Clinton Hill
  • Crown Heights
  • Gowanus
  • Kensington
  • Lefferts Gardens
  • Park Slope
  • Prospect Heights
  • Sunset Park
  • Williamsburg
  • Windsor Terrace

We teach the following instruments:

  • Piano/Keyboard
  • Guitar
  • Ukulele
  • Violin
  • Cello
  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Drums
  • Songwriting
  • And so much more

If you’re neighborhood is not listed, please contact us, we may have added it recently.

How is it possible that we have expanded?  We now have 14 wonderful teachers.  You can find all of their photos and bios here (note – some are still being uploaded as I write this.)

All of our teachers are fully vetted, background checked and trained in our unique approach and philosophy of education:  Musicolor Method®.  It’s an approach that stresses playing first.  All the basics of music are covered, including reading music on a staff,  just in a more natural order.  The instant results we get boost self-confidence and enable kids to continue where other traditional methods have discouraged so many.

To learn more, visit our homepage or schedule a call with our founder and director, Andrew Ingkavet.

 

 

*Unfortunately, we do not teach dogs piano.  Neither do we teach cats or penguins.  Only kids!

Photos from our Holiday Party / Music Salon 2018

Park Slope Music Lessons Holiday Party Music Salon

Each year, I host a Holiday Party and Music Salon for our music students at one of our student’s homes. It’s a great way for our youngest and shyest to get over their fears of performing in front of others. And every year it gets better. It also gives a chance for new friendships to be be born and our Music Mentors and Mentees to hang out, each some treats and play for all of us. Wonderful.

Here’s some of the highlights.

Why I want my student’s “desk” as big as possible

Did you ever go to a library or coffee shop just to have a bigger desktop?  There’s something so spacious and freeing about just having more physical workspace right in front of you.

Last week, I visited several co-working spaces in New York City just for that reason. Having a bigger desktop is incredibly freeing. It opens up your thinking.

And it’s the same thing with your internal mental workspace.  Years ago, I came up with the metaphor of the mental desktop.  This is how I imagine each child learning.  As I begin teaching a 4-year-old, they can only retain one note at a time in their mental workspace.

Over time, we begin chunking that into two and three-note phrases.  Over time, we begin expanding their “mental desktops” to be able to hold complete phrases and sections.  It is incredible to witness!

Each child’s progress is individualized.  

There are no hard and fast rules of how many days or weeks it will take to expand from two notes to two measures.

But sometimes we overestimate how much a particular student can retain.  Sometimes the student will shut down and not want to do anymore.  They’ll refuse to even try!  Other times, it’s as if we’ve gone backwards.

I’ve had some parents complain about their kid’s slow speed in learning how to read music.  But it’s similar to learning to read words.  You can’t skip ahead.  That will only lead to confusion, frustration, and overwhelm.

The core principles of the Musicolor Method include a 7 step framework of teaching and learning.  The first is the Growth Spiral. Every organism in the universe follows this spiraling outward from a central core.  You can see it in the petals of a flower, microscopic cells and the macroscopic like the cosmos.  It’s how growth happens, physical and mental.  You can’t skip from the inner to outer rings.

Another principle is called the Stepping Stone Principle.  Imagine you are trying to cross a stream.  Your guide (the teacher), picks a path and even lays out some stones for you (the student) to cross over.  If the stones (lessons) are too far apart, the students falls in the water.  Some may even get swept away or drown.  Putting the stones too close leads to boredom and perhaps the student also gets stuck there.

These principles are not something taught in music education programs.  It’s my distillation of what I have learned from other effective mentors and reflection on my teaching experiences.

So what if your child is not progressing to your expectations?

Well, the first question to ask is:  Are they practicing every day?

Practice is a learned skill.

You need to teach them how to practice.  It’s not about cramming.  It’s creating a routine that then becomes a habit.  We are all made of our habits, good and bad.  Learning to practice takes effort at first, but quickly becomes a routine.  It’s all about finding even five minutes at the same time every day.  This makes it easier.  Brushing your teeth was not something you just did on your own.  Your parents taught it to you.  It’s the same with music.

If practice is happening, then most issues dissolve. But please be patient.  If your child seems to be going slower than their friends, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong.  Skipping ahead will only make things worse.  Trust the process and practice.

What makes our preschool piano lessons better?

Our preschool piano lessons are virtually unmatched.  Most teachers will not accept a student until 7 or 8 years old.

Why is that?

There is a gap in most music curriculums that do not cover the pre-literate preschool aged child.

The curriculum we use with our young preschool students is what makes us stand out.  It was developed in house by our founder, Andrew Ingkavet and is called the Musicolor Method.  It is currently being taught to music teachers all over the world through an online training course and curriculum.

What makes the Musicolor Method unique?

musicolor-2000-white-boxThe Musicolor Method is the first music curriculum aimed at teaching piano to preschoolers (aged 3 1/2 to 6 years old) that aligns with principles of human development, early childhood education and information design.  Over a ten year period, the curriculum and method have codified into a dynamic and flexible program that has been used successfully with hundreds of children.

Direct Labelling

By labelling keys, fingers and notation with color, we create a direct labelling that allows children to bypass all the abstract symbolic knowledge required in most other curriculums.

It is the best curriculum for bringing preschool beginners up to a level where they can then begin to read music on the staff and can branch out to other curriculums, methods and styles of music.

Here are some of the key components of the Musicolor Method:

  • It doesn’t rely on the need to read
  • Unique musicolor notation is clutter-free and designed specifically for this age group
  • Begins with piano/keyboard which allows for easier understanding of theory
  • Transferrable to other instruments such as guitar, ukulele, recorder, etc.
  • Puts performance first, thereby building up confidence and esteem
  • Abstract concepts and technical issues are introduced in micro steps
  • Use of voice, all songs have lyrics that are age-appropriate
  • Most music concepts are presented in the form of games
  • Effective for children with learning disabilities
  • Fun!

The curriculum can fill the first three to six years of lessons  and dovetails nicely with many of the other commercial piano methods available on the market.  It’s one of the reasons most of our students stay with us so long.

Our outcome?

Happy, eager students who are playing, understanding and (eventually) reading music with mastery.