One of the best parts of my job as a music teacher is witnessing the pure joy that music can bring.
Here’s one of my young students who started her first lesson with me at the end of June. We had a few lessons over the summer and then a break. But she loves to practice. This song was in our 3rd lesson and is her favorite.
As we ended the lesson, a student's father said to me, “I took lessons in 2nd grade, but they started me with having to learn to read the notes and I just gave up. I wish I had you as a teacher back then.”
Back then, the only way to teach was reading notes first. And, unless you were a childhood prodigy like Bach or Mozart, then, sorry! Forget about any preschooler taking piano lessons! You had to wait until you were at least 8 years old.
It's like asking a child to walk before they can even talk! It's backwards!
Somehow, the child-centered approach to early childhood education never seemed to make it to the music education departments of Universities and conservatories.
There is a natural growth cycle of human development. And reading cannot come before speaking, ever. So why expect it in a music lesson? Reading music notation cannot come before playing the instrument.
In the Musicolor Method™ curriculum, we have a strategically designed sequence of songs that build technique while disguised as fun sing-along songs. There is a right time for everything. We use several phases of Musicolor notation that is instantly readable and yet guides the student towards reading traditional music notation. And we use a concept called direct-labelling, that comes from information design, to facilitate the entire process.
If your child is struggling with reading notes, it's probably not their fault. It just may be out of sequence.
Recently, I met a father of a former student. He was very complimentary about my students abilities. He told me how his other daughter went to a big franchise music school that promised to teach kids to play in a rock band. And yet when she came home each week, the father would ask her to play a song.
“Well I can’t remember. And I only play one note in the whole song.”
That sounds more like playing a video game like Guitar Hero where you don’t actually learn the skills to play anything on your own. You just play along with backing tracks or the teacher plays the real song while the kids get to play one note. That doesn’t sound all that fun to me. And judging from the father’s disappointment, not what he was expecting. There was no organized method or curriculum.
As a teacher and a parent, I’ve never been a fan of this kind of teaching. It’s more of an after-school activity to kill a few hours until dinner time. Where’s the growth? Where’s the mastery of skills?
Learning any new skills requires structure and organization. Even with a million instructional videos on YouTube, how do you know what to watch next? How do you have an organized path to mastery?
Do you have your child in music lessons? Do you see consistent growth every week? Is your child able to play music alone without the backing tracks or duets and still sound like music? Are they learning the life skills of focus, perseverance and practice? If not, you may be experiencing the old-school, traditional method. I call it walking before talking.
We can help. Send your teacher to our training, you can learn more or sign up here. We have a full curriculum to teach piano, guitar, ukulele, dulcimer, strumstick along with general music theory to children as young as 3!
Here's a video of a 4 year old who worked with me for 9 months from the age of 3 1/2.