MY CHILD IS A PRESCHOOLER
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When your child is ages 3, 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 two-level teaching system developed by Randall & Nancy Faber. 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, numbers and imitation 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 & shape recognition, eye-to-hand coordination and singing songs. The Fabers recognize that young hands often lack the strength and dexterity needed to “strike” the keys in the traditional fashion, so they employ techniques that allow the child to hit clusters of notes with a fist, or to peck single notes like a bird. The accompanying CD includes wonderfuls songs and activities to ensure that FUN is the primary learning modality. 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 FABER SYSTEM for the young beginner relies upon some parental involvement, so at least one parent must be present at each lesson and must help the student with daily practice. 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, and the CD ensures the student is receiving the proper instruction. Other programs for teaching very young children (such as Suzuki) rely heavily upon the parents' role often to the point of the parent learning to play the instrument completely! The parents' involvment required for the Faber system is minimal. Once the student completes Level B, parental involvement reduces substantially and the student is transitioned to the regular system for students ages 7 and older. Specific reading, practicing and studying exercises help the student to learn how to study independently, until eventually she or he can practice regularly without any proctoring.
So with your help and the Faber 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.
Time Recommendations: Initially a child under age 7 should have a 30-min. lesson once weekly. If the parents are committed and the child progresses well, the child can select a secondary instrument (violin, viola, cello, flute, or saxophone) after 1-2 years and the secondary instrument would be an additional 15 or 30 mins. Most children under age 7 do not benefit greatly from 60-min. lessons on a single instrument and will regularly lose attention and focus before the hour is completed.
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 1-2 years ahead of other students who would have started at age 6 or 7.
VIOLIN, VIOLA OR CELLO LESSONS FOR PRESCHOOLERS:
The KMI faculty as also very experienced in teaching very young students violin, viola and cello. KMI Director, Mr. Kikuchi, has developed a spectacular supplemental workbook series (Musicianship for Strings) that helps students understand music theory and the mechanics of the string instrument in careful step-by-step exercises. Because of this new and innovative series students are able to begin study of a string instrument at a much younger age. When concurrent with piano, the student may begin string study at age 4. Without piano, the student may begin string study at age 5. (See STRING INSTRUMENTS).
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!