You can see the joy on their faces and it's awesome!
Excitement is building for the two Winter Recital Concerts coming next week. It's a massive undertaking to produce these concerts and I appreciate your support. Here's some reminder details.
Date Time and Location
Where: St. Francis Xavier church - corner 6th Ave and Carroll St
When: Saturday, January 26, 2019
Time: 10:30 am OR 2 pm
Registration Of Performers Closes Today at 5pm
Reminder to register today as we need to start printing programs and certificates.
Structure Of Recital
If this is your first recital, here’s how it’s structured.
After a brief introduction, I gather all the performers and teachers onstage and hand out achievement certificates for all performers. We take a big “class photo” and stand powerful and strong in our “power poses.” It helps overcome the jitters of getting up in front everyone as we are all together looking out at you, our loving and supportive audience.
Your Teacher Will Support Your Child
Then we follow the program and I introduce each performer. Your child’s teacher will greet them, support and assure them. Also, they’ll make sure they have their correct starting positions on the keys! They will also stay near for emotional support.
Video Recordings on YouTube
I will record video of each child. We’ve been pretty lucky with having decent quality in the past -though, I can’t guarantee it! I post these on our YouTube channel with first names only. Let me know if you do NOT want a video taken.
Support All The Performers
Please plan on staying for the entire concert. It’s important to show your love and support of all the performers, not just your child. I know a few of you have told me of scheduling conflicts, so please be discreet if you have to leave early.
Thank you for being part of our musical community!
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.
Ifyouasktheaveragemusicteacheraboutspecialneeds children as students,youmaygetablank stare.Thereisn’tmuchliteraturefocusedonthis.Childrenwithspecialneedsmay includethosewithlearningdisabilities,developmentalissues,aswellasthoseonthe Autismspectrum.
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!
If you have any questions about your child and their specific issues, feel free to contact us.
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.
I believe music education is vitally important as it teaches one of the most important skills of childhood…confidence.But it’s not the egotistical, brash arrogance posing as confidence that is plaguing our society.
Rather, we parents want our kids to be a clear channel for intuition and spirit developed by learning the laws of the Universe so perfectly exemplified in music.
We are all vibrating, resonating beings.Let’s lift ourselves by resonating with the highest vibrations!
Come join us
This Saturday, June 10, 2017, we will host our Spring concerts at the Park Slope Library on 9th Street and 6th Avenue.
We have an 11am show and a 2pm show in the lower level auditorium. Free and open to the public. Come check out what your kids and neighbors have been working on for the last few months.
We have a diverse and eclectic music program including everything from Bach to Beethoven, Folk Songs to Lady Gaga, classic rock to the blues, original compositions and songs and, of course, music from Disney’s Moana.
Public performance is a huge growth opportunity and an essential skill for success in life.I’ve heard many adults say how public speaking is at the top of their fear lists.
It was mine too!
Back when I was an awkward kid, somehow, I knew that if I could get over my fear of speaking or performing in public, I would have an easier time in life.Through repeated practice in jobs, gigs and performing, I somehow got better.Eventually, to my sheer amazement,I even got a job as a host for MTV with a daily audience of millions!
Over the last ten years, I’ve seen many of my students blossom from shy wallflowers to starring in school plays – from unable to take a bow to belting out pop songs at the top of their lungs – from hiding behind their mother’s legs to standing confidently in front of a middle school interviewer…
Our recitals have played a huge part in your kid’s lives and I am immensely proud to be a part of this magical journey.
If you have never been to one, they are warm, family-friendly affairs where your children can grow.I’ve considered moving to other venues, but the intimacy and community aspect of the library space is exactly what we are after.A safe space.
So be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.You can see previous videos here.
June 10, 2017 – 11am or 2pm
Park Slope Library, 9th Street at 6th Avenue in the lower level auditorium.Wheelchair and stroller accessible.There is limited seating, so arrive early.
Please email me and let me know which time you would like to have your child perform.
Wow, what a great set of concerts we had on Saturday!
It’s truly amazing to see what our kids can accomplish with some directed focus, guidance and perseverance.
These skills translate into wonderful life success skills and you may already notice them surfacing in areas like school, sports and homework.
But, I think this photo truly captures the spirit and essence of what our recitals at Park Slope Music Lessons are all about. Can you guess what it is? Elias with his Dad perform Heart and Soul with a surprise support guest little brother Gabriel.
Look at all that joy! And how fun is it that Gabriel was so moved that he had to join them on stage! After all, what good is music (and life) without joy?
Music is fun.
Music is social.
Music is therapeutic.
Music is all of these and more!
I’m so proud of all our students. Please tell your children how much you appreciate all the courage and hard work that happened this week.
(And continues every week in the lessons and practicing.)
We have two concerts scheduled at the Park Slope Library at 9th street and 6th Avenue.
As we have grown, we’ve had to create two separate concerts as the auditorium would not fit us. Plus, I’m afraid of tiring out our audience with multiple renditions of Hot Cross Buns! 🙂
We’re going to have some great music – everything from folk songs to classic rock from Deep Purple and the Police to newer hits by Rihanna, Broadway show pieces, classical sonatinas and original songs.
Here’s Oliver practicing for the recital as he discovers a new sound he can use!
All music should be memorized. This is all about creating mastery. With exception of lyrics and duets.
Stage Jitters and Power Poses
It is normal to be nervous and anxious. One of the most amazing discoveries in the last few decades is the idea of the power pose. It has been proven in scientific studies that by holding the body in a confident pose, you can create the feeling of confidence. And it only takes 2 minutes! Check out Dr. Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk or her new book Presence.
So when I talk about Power Poses on Saturday, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Get There Early
Another way to alleviate anxiety is to get there early. It gives time for your child to acclimate to the new room. He/she will also be able to warm up a little on the keyboard as I set up the equipment. Certificates I print out Award Certificates for each and every performer.
I bring up all the kids to the stage at the beginning. Please be on time!
This allows for
1) the realization that it’s not so scary on the stage – you’re already there!
2) a wonderful photo opportunity of the entire group
3) a chance to recognize all the hard work and effort of our children
We usually set up a rug in the front for children to sit together. We try to reserve chairs for elderly and pregnant parents first. If you need to ensure seating for a family member, get there early.
We are here to support our kids. Please give them your full attention. Please refrain from talking, texting or leaving early. No matter how polished or unpolished the performer is, we need to applaud the effort. It takes massive amounts of courage to perform in public. Through repeated practice, we can overcome our stage fright.
There has been a lot of attention towards the affects of music instruction on brain development. But I think this is the first time I’ve seen actual scans of the brains of young children.
Studies have already shown that learning music can be beneficial to children with brain development disorders like autism. Researchers from the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City wanted to understand more specifically what changes happen in the brain due to musical instruction.
“When a child receives musical instruction, their brains are asked to complete certain tasks. These tasks involve hearing, motor, cognition, emotion and social skills, which seem to activate these different brain areas.These results may have occurred because of the need to create more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain,” explained Dr. Dies-Suarez.
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?
The 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.
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
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.
Happy, eager students who are playing, understanding and (eventually) reading music with mastery.
As parents, we want the best for our children and we are usually anxious about getting it right.Here in Park Slope, we all know the competition for preschool, day care and elementary schools begins at birth!
You can usually get a sense of your child’s interest in music by around the age of 2 or 3.They will be singing along with songs in the car or asking you to play a certain song over and over again. And at some point, they may even ask you,
“Can I learn to play ____?(guitar, piano, flute or whatever).
So when should we start getting our kids into a private music lesson?
As a private music teacher and parent, I recommend the following.
Try out a mommy-and-me type class first.
My son enjoyed the Music Together classes on the corner of 1st street and 6th avenue though he was usually more interested in putting away the instruments than actually participating!We also had a lovely time with Juguemos A Cantar, a Spanish language program that includes lots of music and playtime.
There are so many sing-along programs available where general exposure to music,singing and dancing take place in a group environment.This is great for toddlers from 6 months to around 3 years old.
Listen To Music In The Home
This seems rather common sense, but you can definitely expose your child to some great stuff. Be sure to try and include a variety of music. Also, be aware that certain music and lyrics may not be age-appropriate the same way you do with movies and television. Folk and classical music are good choices for toddlers.
Take Your Children to See Live Music
Seeing and hearing live instruments is an amazingly different experience than just listening to recordings. And, because so much of our listening experience is now mediated through compressed audio via streaming services, we really miss out on the true experience of sound. All the major music institutions in our fine city have programs for children. PS 321 has long been hosting a wonderful series of concerts for children organized by Simone Dinnerstein, a world renown classical pianist. Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, BAM and don’t forget the fine performances of students at Juilliard, NYU, Mannes and Manhattan School of Music. We have no excuse!
Fine Motor Skills
By around the age of 3 1/2 or 4 years, most children have developed fine motor skills to the point where they can write their name legibly.They may be able to spell it forwards and backwards.They usually can say the alphabet in proper sequence.And, they usually start to develop the ability to focus on one activity for a longer period of time, say 5 to 10 minutes.At this point, we can start to work with a child on piano /keyboard.
Why start with piano/keyboard?
The piano is a very visually and logically designed interface. It doesn’t require a lot of technical exertion to produce a pleasing sound.Modern digital keyboards can fit into any sized apartment and have volume controls as well as headphone outputs! (We have some recommendations here.)
By starting with the piano/keyboard, we can also visually explain abstract concepts of music like pitch being high or low, and the relationship between the pitches as spatial relationships between the fingers and keys.Using a well-design curriculum like the Musicolor Method, we can coax our young preschoolers to producing quite complex and beautiful music in a relatively short period of time.
Why not violin?
Violin, though often touted as a great beginning instrument, has the challenge of no fixed pitch.It requires tuning and the ability to play in tune – intonation.This can drive lots of people crazy hearing a squeaking, out of tune Twinkle Twinkle over and over again.Piano, or digital keyboard, has the advantage of fixed tuning.An acoustic piano is tuned by a professional once every 6 to 12 months and that’s it.Parents don’t have to fiddle with the tuners.
Growth mindset and brain development
By starting your child in music lessons at the age of 3 or 4, you are helping them with so many life skills.There have been so many studies about the positive effects of music on brain development in young children.And now, further studies are showing the positive effects of participation in formal private music lessons.These studies are showing that music, above all other activities, fosters the very skills that are needed for success in life.These skills include focus, persistence, discipline, public performance, practice skills, study skills, problem solving as well as the ability to listen, harmonize and blend with others.
A Focus on Life Skills
It is with this life skills focus that I established Park Slope Music Lessons. I had studied to be a music teacher at NYU on a special scholarship back in the 1980’s.However, I was soon pulled into many other adventures of life including becoming a writer, producer and VJ for MTV, back when they still played music.Teaching music as a full-time focus didn’t happen until my own son began asking for music lessons.It was then that I started to search for a teacher.I was surprised that almost no one would accept a 3 or 4 year old student.
They all said “Come back when he was 7 or 8.”
A Homeschool Project Expands
That’s when I started my own homeschooling project that blossomed into both a new curriculum and music school. Today we have 3 teachers, including myself, two of whom will actually come to your home for lessons.
I hope to work with you and your child one day soon.
We not only want our students to learn how to play songs. We also want them to understand the concepts of music theory which make it easier to transfer to other instruments. Many of our students have started at the keyboard and then added other instruments like ukulele, guitar, recorder, flute and lap dulcimer to name a few.
In our Musicolor Method® curriculum, around the 3rd or 4th lesson, we introduce solfeggio, which was invented over 1000 years ago in Italy! How crazy amazing is that? Somehow, the French word Solfége has become more widely used. Most people just know of it from the movie the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews teaches the children to sing using do – re – mi – fa – so, etc.
In our lessons we use the syllables, along with hand signs invented in the 1800’s by John Curwen along with the positions created by Zoltan Kodaly in the last century. If you’ve never heard of them, it doesn’t matter, but they are iconic figures in music education.
Each student begins to use the solfege along with the hand signs to learn every new song going forward. It helps to internalize the music through multiple modes: visual, aural and kinesthetic. And…it’s fun!
And they each go home with a fun poster to help them remember this along with some fun facts.
Here’s Lilah learning the first phrase of the old folk song Lightly Row.
Park Slope Music Lessons has several positions available for part-time piano teachers.
We would consider vocal and other instruments, but you should have a basic familiarity with piano and basic technique.
About Park Slope Music Lessons
We focus on working with young children ages, 3 1/2 and up, giving them the basics of music beginning at the piano keyboard. We use a unique non-traditional method called The Musicolor Method®.
The position is ideal for someone who lives near to Park Slope, Brooklyn and can travel to student’s homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Experience as a music teacher is NOT required.
Pay ranges from $25–$40 per hour.
We’re looking for teachers who…
At least 21 years of age
love working with children
are open to non-traditional approaches to teaching
Able to commit to working with students from September 2016 thru June 2017
are looking to make the world a better place
may have children or grand children of their own
may be still in school
We are not looking for people who…
don’t like change
are not open to new ideas
don’t enjoy being around or working with children
are prone to using foul language
We have a unique method and approach that has led us to having a 2 year waiting list.
If you would like to apply, please note there are specific precautions required by the NYC Department of Education.
A super Spring Music Recital is headed your way. We’ll have 26 of my students performing uplifting music from Beethoven to Katy Perry to Andrew Lloyd-Weber to the Beatles to music from Hamilton and beyond!
Saturday June 18
Open to the public
Park Slope Library
6th Avenue at 9th Street
Lower level auditorium – there is wheelchair ramp and elevator
Our Winter Recital is tomorrow. 28 kids performing after months of preparation everything from Beethoven to Bruno Mars, Carole King To John Williams, Harold Arlen to Hoagie Carmichael, Taylor Swift to Andrew Lloyd Weber – even some Jimi Hendrix. Big day for all!
We’ll post videos soon and may even try a little live Periscope.