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Piano Camp: Put on a Show!

 

Planning, preparing and executing a piano camp takes time but with careful planning it turns out to be a satisfying endeavor for the teacher and an exciting experience for the students!

Beginning in January, I polled the parents to find out the interest level and available dates. Shortly after I began browsing the many resources available. The model for piano camp has traditionally been group games, crafts, worksheets and rhythm play. I decided to follow a different path in order to challenge myself and inspire the students.  The two major changes I made, were:

  1. Piano Camp for a wide range of ages.
  2. Put on a Show!

Offering a piano camp for ages 5-11 seems like a disaster. However, by mixing the age groups and musicianship levels, I did not have to worry about having enough children enrolled in various groups.  My goal was to have 12 children participate in the piano camp. Why did I stop at age eleven? Two reasons. The 12-year-old students that I know would probably not have enrolled in the same class as the 5-year-old students, so I went ahead and offered a different camp for them.

Usually at the end of the week the students would go home with crafts and worksheets completed with a little verbal summary from me.  Sometimes each student would perform solos or we would prepare a piece to play as a group.  But I took a risk  and instead prepared them to perform an “operetta” . Students had to sing, dance, act out the story and make music together.  By the end of the week they had experienced music in a whole different way, worked as a group and shared their talents and skills with an audience.

 

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How does an operetta become a piano camp? Each day the twelve students shared six keyboards and learned different parts of the songs.  Students were of all different levels and it was great to see how they helped each and worked together.  However, during the performance only two students played the piano while the others had different parts to play on stage.

 

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Interested in doing this next summer? I ordered my operetta here.  Jack and the Beanstalk became “Jackie”, the Con Man became the Con Lady, the Giant was not tall at all – adaptations we made to fit our group and add to the fun.

Musical S.T.E.M. is our next Piano Camp!

Sign up right now to receive a 10% discount when you purchase this curriculum

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How Children Learn Music

We don’t talk about this enough and we should.

The idea that waiting until a child is 9 years old to begin their musical learning needs to vanish.  We live in a different world. Music learning has to be handled differently.

Fifty-five years ago families were still singing together at home,  parents still sung their childhood songs to their infants and religious congregations viewed singing together as a vital part of programming.

Nowadays we are not making music at home,  parents are shy about singing a simple lullaby  out loud and the music in most churches consists of loud repetitive sounds.  

But parents still want their young children to learn to be proficient at music. In one year of lessons.

Children Learn music the same way they learn language

The following steps are an example of what happens when learning language or music.  Every individual moves through these steps at a different pace.

  1. Listening (infants listen to family interactions, family sings together)
  2. Imitating (a few months later they begin to imitate sounds they hear)
  3. Repeating (sounds turn in to meaningful words, singing parts of songs)
  4. Creating (finally sentences! making up songs)
  5. Reading (elementary school, ready for learning to read notes)
  6. Writing (school continues,  composing music)

Imagine teaching someone to read (step 5) who has not moved through stages 1-4. It is quite difficult.  So why do we continue to allow it for music?

this is what happens in a piano lesson?

This is what should be happening in a preschool piano class!  But more importantly the understanding that children need to go through these steps before learning to play an instrument, is the mindset that needs to prevail.  

So is there hope for my 9 year old?

Yes! Your child may begin lessons at any age. However, now I hope you understand why it might take longer than you expected!

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Preschool Piano: What does your child stand to gain?

You won’t be alone if you were wondering why children are encouraged to start piano lessons early. While every parent would fancy the thought of bringing up the next world famous pianist, enrolling in a preschool piano class doesn’t necessarily mean you want them to become professional musicians.

Musical training helps to develop children’s minds and a preschool piano class with other children remains one of the most popular ways to begin this training.

Here are a few things your preschooler will learn in our preschool piano class:

Impulse control

Children are known to move and act impulsively. However, our preschool piano class would allow your child multiple opportunities to coordinate his/her movements. When songs or stories are acted out, children learn how to control their impulses and move or talk only when they should. Having to sit in a specific place with others and follow directions helps them control their impulses. Even when they are not being actively engaged (listening instead of dancing), they absorb the environment and sounds around them. These are invaluable opportunities for growth and it would help them developmentally for other group situations in life.

Concentration

On the surface preschool piano lessons might look like all fun and games, but in reality it takes a great deal of patience and discipline on the part of the child.  Learning to play with others, following directions, singing only when it’s your turn, singing as you play the piano, how to sit correctly at the piano, which keys to play, how to play gently instead of pounding, and the list goes on!  Internalizing all of these generally requires perseverance.

A preschool piano class helps your child absorb these skills early on. They are learning to focus and be successful at seemingly difficult tasks. Little by little they are acquiring the maturity needed for the day when formal instruction begins.

Listening Skills

Numerous studies have attempted to investigate the benefit of music education in children. One common theme about these studies is the ability of music to improve the listening skills of children. In our preschool piano class auditory skills are fine tuned by listening to voices and sounds of nature and the unique qualities of acoustic instruments. These activities are not only fascinating to children but will definitely be a boost to their beginning reading skills!

Confidence

There is a need to build your child’s self-esteem right from an early age and a preschool piano class offers an effective method of accomplishing that. When children are allowed to be themselves in a safe environment that is loving and kind, they will feel confident to share their music with others.  They experience weekly success with music in class and these seemingly small achievements mean the world to them, building the confidence they need.

Are you ready?

There you have it! Highlighted above are just some of the things your preschooler stands to gain from our preschool piano class. The lessons are specially designed to attract the interest of children and they’ll naturally find them intriguing. Preschool piano class is an amazing way to start your child’s musical journey!

music recipes

Piano Lessons Without Practice

Maxes at DPS

 

Week by week. Year after year. Students arrive at their piano lesson without practicing their assigned pieces.

Week by week. Year after year. Piano teachers try to find ways to entice students to practice.

Piano students are “let go” from piano studios because they do not practice.

Households are stressed because piano students do not practice.

Piano teachers are loosing students because parents are tired of weekly messages saying “Johnny needs to practice .”

On the other hand…

Playing sports is so much fun! Put on your t-shirt, join your team, play the game together, go home.

Next week? Repeat!

How many of these players will be drafted by a major league team? less than 2.9%.

How many will have a career in sports? Probably a few more.

How many will love the game for life and dabble in it when gathering with friends? I bet 99% of them will at least still enjoy the game.

What does this have to do with piano lessons?

Learning to play the piano has a tradition of discipline, repetition and loneliness. Students may love to come to their lesson every week, it may even be fun; but the daily practice at home… that’s another story.

Is there another way to learn to play the piano and love it?

Here is my vision.

Piano lessons are so much fun! Grab your music bag, join your team, play the piano, go home!

Next week? Repeat!

How many of these pianists will pursue the career of a concert pianist? Probably none.

How many will have a career in music? Maybe quite a few.

How many will love the game for life and dabble in it when gathering with friends?I bet 99% of them will at least still enjoy music the rest of their lives.

Do you see what I see? It’s a beautiful vision of my students  making music at the piano with others. For life.

Will you join me?

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Music and the Brain

 

It has been said that music is healthy for the brain, happiness for the soul and pleasure to the heart.

Many of us have experienced how music affects our soul and heart but how does music affect the brain?

Does classical music really help encourage infant development?

How does musical training affect the brain and does music really improve the quality of life?

Wanting to understand exactly how music affected me, I did some research.

Have a good read and explore the effect of music on the brain!

Does classical music really help encourage infant development? 

I’m sure many of you have seen albums such as “Baroque for Babies” which encourage classical music exposure to infants. In 1998, a study was conducted to determine if music truly affected the mind of a young child. The belief of the time was that listening to classical music in the crib would improve skills in math and engineering. What came of this experiment is known as the ‘Mozart Effect’.  Music also relaxes your baby. Studies show that babies exposed to classical music relax, move less and sleep more comfortably at night.

How does musical training affect the brain? 

As corny as it sounds, musicians have bigger, better brains! This isn’t something made up, science proves it. Looking at a CT scan of a brain, musicians tend to have bigger, more connected brains. If you hadn’t noticed, musicians tend to have exceptional memory, auditory skills, and cognitive ability. Not all of us a professional level musicians but if you listen to music half as much as I do in a week, music is influencing your brain too! 

Does music really improve the quality of life?

Well music has been proven to improve your mood and reduce stress! Don’t believe me? Find a quiet country road, go out on a sunny day, roll down your windows and turn on your favorite song. I guarantee you’ll start smiling and your body will physically and mentally relax. Listening to upbeat music can give you energy and positive attitude. Music increases our dopamine levels (dopamine is our “happy” hormone!) and that’s why listening to your favorite song makes you so happy!

Music is a key factor in my life – I believe that I am a more loving and compassionate person because I have music in my life. Above all else, music is a sensation, it has the power to raise feelings you didn’t know you had before. Music makes you happier, healthier and enhances everything of the human experience.

You can read more about music and the brain here.

written by piano pedagogy student Lindsey Johnson, Southwestern Adventist University.