Our 4-year-old son has been attending weekly piano classes at the local Yamaha Music Canada School. We are now almost two months into the ten month program and we have continued to make a slow but steady progression into the curriculum. The concepts he is learning are basic, especially to an adult, but they are fundamentally important to understanding music theory and need to be solidly understood before moving on to more complex ideas.
The course continues to reenforce the lessons by employing several different in-class teaching strategies. A typical class would include the following activities:
-Singing along to songs using sol-fa and lyrics
-Slapping along to the rhythms of songs (or holding and swinging hands)
-Playing basic three to four note melodies using their right (high) hand on different octaves
-Performing songs in divided groups where each group plays a different part
-Picking out musical notation patterns in their workbooks using stamps
-Making basic musical notation on small magnetic boards with staff and note magnets
In addition to these in-class activities the students are given a list of tasks to try and practice at home during the week. These are usually quite reasonable and include listening to some songs, watching the DVD or practicing some of the simple pieces we play in class. We personally try to practice about two times a week for 30 minutes each session. I want to make sure it is not a chore and that we are not pushing him too much. It is definitely giving us a chance to try and work on some of the parts he either really enjoys or really needs some extra practice in.
I am finding that one of the biggest challenges for my son is the motor control. Since he is still quite young and his hands are very small it is very difficult for him to spread his fingers and play three or more full sized piano keys easily. There has been improvement since we first started but it is also clear that there are some things we simply can’t shortcut and we will have to wait for him to get bigger.
Our teacher so far has been consistently positive and enthusiastic in the classroom. She does a good job of helping maintain focus and trying to wrangle in the kids who are getting a little out of control. I do think that a one hour class is pushing the attention span of kids these ages but there is quite a bit of interaction and change in activities to keep them interested.
In a group situation one can easily see that there is a wide range of abilities between the kids and so it is a bit tricky to design the pace of the class to fit everyone. As a parent I am curious to see how far everyone will progress over the course of this program and I am learning more about my own son and how he learns.
Here a little video we recorded as we waiting for our class to start:
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.