Our 4-year-old is now three months into the ten month Yamaha Music Canada School piano program at the Tom Lee Music Learning Centre in downtown Vancouver and I feel that I have had a much better chance to evaluate the teaching approach as it pertains to my son and this age group in general.
The course continued to progress at a predictable steady pace and they have begun to introduce logical next steps such as the inclusion of the left hand (and the F Clef) as well as some slightly more complicated songs that are still variations on the basic five notes they are familiar with.
I think this particular age group of kids is a challenging one to design a curriculum for since the range of abilities and maturity between girls and boys a aged four to five can be absolutely massive. In our particular class there are a couple of little girls that are very attentive, sit perfectly poised at their pianos and have excellent fine motor skills that allows them to play the piano keys with relative ease. They are clearly practicing at home and appear to be easily motivated to do well and it is resulting in them learning the material easily.
In contrast to this my son (who is the youngest in the class) and a couple of other little boys struggle to sit still for the hour long class and would much rather be doing something physical and with more action involved (like pressing all the buttons on the piano!). My son is grasping most of the theory and enjoys the singing/clapping but he is having a really tough time physically playing the keyboard with his tiny hands and it is very difficult to keep him focused both in the classroom and at home when practicing. It is becoming a bigger and bigger struggle at this point and it is resulting in frustration for both of us.
Teaching the class as a group can make it fun for kids who like participating in this way but it also means there is less opportunity for individual attention and feedback. I think it would be great if Yamaha could perhaps adapt the program a little bit so there was more time in the class for the teacher to work with individual students and help them with any specific issues they might be having.
There are still many positive aspects of the Yamaha program and my son has definitely been learning many new things about music and music theory so there is progress being made. I do feel that at this point he has fallen behind a bit in terms of the physical playing ability relative to the rest of the class but we are going to consult with our instructor and see if I can change my approach to the practice sessions to help him out more and perhaps spark some stronger motivation. I think some of the issues related to focus and maturity are simply a matter of getting older and can’t necessarily be shortcut just yet.
We will see how it all goes in December, stay tuned for our next update!
Yamaha Education Growth Initiative
I am excited to share some information regarding a great promotion that Yamaha is running right now until the end of February 2015. The Yamaha Education Growth Initiative (EGI) is a rebate that works as a credit towards music lessons with the Yamaha Music Education System.
When you purchase a new Yamaha product from now until February 28, 2015, you qualify for a lesson tuition credit towards the Yamaha Music Education System group lessons. For example, if you were to buy a brand new Yamaha Grand Piano, you would get $500 to put towards group lessons with the Yamaha Music Education System.
There are a variety of instruments that apply, including drums, guitars, brass and wodwinds, each with their own level of rebate. I love how they are helping make lessons attainable for more families! Find more details and their full brochure HERE.
Disclosure – I am participating in the Yamaha Music Canada Brand Ambassador program on behalf with Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.