MY CHILD IS A PRESCHOOLER
When your child is ages 4 or 5, you are never certain what to start. Are you pushing reading? Are you considering music lessons? Are you thinking early kindergarten? No doubt you have heard from several people, “Start your child in music very early.” This is quite true due to the many benefits secured by starting at a very young age: 1) more years available for study; 2) establishment of good behaviors early; 3) crossover benefits into general education; etc. You may have also heard that child prodigies such as Mozart were capable of amazing musical feats at the tender ages of 3 and 4. Please note that all such prodigies benefited not just from early education but more importantly from being born into a musical family. In such an environment, these children received daily musical education from their parents starting as young as 6 months old, just as most children learn to speak and read, and for the most part such an education is not possible otherwise.
PIANO LESSONS FOR PRESCHOOLERS:
The KMI faculty have experienced high levels of success teaching preschoolers ages 4-6 through the use of an excellent four-level (A,B,C,D) teaching system developed by Jane Bastien. It was designed to teach very young piano students using the standard 30 min. private lesson format. No reading is required in the beginning because the books use pictures, letters and numbers to teach. In the first lessons, the system moves step-by-step through the many simple skills the child must develop in order to play such as basic motor skills, symbol and shape recognition and eye-to-hand coordination. Bastien recognizes that young hands often lack the strength and dexterity needed to “strike” the keys in the traditional fashion, so she employs techniques that allow the child to hit clusters of notes with a fist, or to peck single notes like a bird. The result is that your child will be making music in the very first lesson! All along the way, there are fun coloring tasks which both reward the student for a job well done, and help to break up the seriousness of study by keeping it fun.
The Jane Bastien System for the young beginner relies upon some parental involvement, so at least one parent must be present at each lesson. In essence the lesson is as much to teach the parent what to do at home as it is to teach your child music! Do not fear should you have no musical background, because none is required. Many of the written and playing assignments are easy enough for the parent to understand. Unlike many other programs for teaching very young children which rely heavily upon the parent's role (often to the point of the parent learning to play the instrument completely!), the parent's involvment required for the Bastien system is minimal. Once the student reaches Level B, parent involvement reduces substantially and by Level C it is usually not required at all. The student is encouraged to study independently as specific reading, practicing and learning skills are developed, until eventually she or he can practice regularly without any proctoring.
So with your help and the Jane Bastien system, your child may benefit from a teaching environment very similar to what Mozart might have had if he lived today, just maybe not so young.
Non-Piano: In addition to piano lessons, we offer recorder lessons for the very young. A recorder is a small very inexpensive ($20) woodwind instrument which has only holes for fingering (no keys), and is easy to blow (no reed or lip embouchure needed). The soprano or sopranino recorders are both small enough for very young hands, and these instruments are an excellent way to start a child into music without the expense of a piano, violin or flute.
Time Recommendations: Initially a child under age 7 should have a 30-min. lesson once weekly. If the parents are committed and the child shows interest, we can also enroll children for twice weekly, three times weekly and 5 times weekly lessons – but each lesson is only 30 min. Most children under age 7 do not benefit greatly from 60-min. lessons, with rare exceptions.
The four levels of the Bastien Piano System for Very Young Children are equivalent to the first year (Primer Level) of the Core Curriculum. By the time the student completes these levels (2-3 years), the student will be more than ready to proceed with the standard piano course (Level 1), and will still be ahead of other students who would have started at age 6 or 7.
ALTERNATIVE TO PRIVATE LESSONS:
Not every 4-year-old is the same. So before starting, it is best that we assess your child to make sure he/she is ready to begin private music lessons. It might be better to enroll your child in Music Together which provides a wonderful introduction to music for infants up to 5-year-old preschoolers. The singing and moving help build solid musical skills of pitch recognition and rhythm, while also establishing important one-on-one interraction and following directions. Children are strongly encouraged to move around and explore their environment throughout each session, as the strongest emphasis is placed on individual creativity and expression. The classes are a wonderful beginning to help students transition both into preschool and in to music lessons!