Saturday, November 21, 2009

Year 0 Music

On a message board I frequent, there was a question on what a mom can do about music instruction with their Year 0 (and Year K) children when they can't afford lessons and don't feel confident enough to teach them themselves. This mom did intend their children to do Piano when they were older. Here is my response.

What you can do at home on your own may depend a lot on what music skills you (or other family members) already have. Listening to good classical music is a HUGE part of music education, even if you can't do anything else. That can make a huge difference when the child later learns an instrument. Find quality recordings by good artists. (I'd buy the Suzuki CD's for the Piano, or whichever instrument you are thinking of for the future - even if you don't plan to do Suzuki.)

And as hard as it can be for an adult - for year 0 kids, I would say that repetition can be more important than a huge selection. (My 18 month old "sings" the notes to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Allegro" because she hears them so often. (My older kids do Suzuki violin, and the oldest is doing home-taught piano based on Suzuki Piano. So we listen to the CDs for Violin 1 and 2, and the CDs for Piano 1 and 2 every day) (As violin has 6 different rhythm variations of Twinkle on the CD, and Piano has 8 Twinkle variations on the CD - my 18 month old hears a variation of Twinkle 14 times a day at least from the CD's - and then hears it at least a couple of times from daily practice of the older kids.))

I know that not everyone can afford lessons..... but look into bursaries. A lot of programs out there do have bursaries or scholarships for people that need it. Sometimes deals can be worked on a barter system, if you have a skill that the instructor could use.

For older kids, some Orchestra's have programs to help teach kids musical instruments that aren't as "popular" - ones where there tends to be a shortage of players for the orchestra... (Things like Bassoon, or Oboe, or Tuba - I'm not sure which ones but there are ones out there...)

Back to what you can do now - besides the listening a lot - I would say that rhythm is a major thing. (If you do get the Suzuki CD's, you will here the Twinkle Variations that are different IMPORTANT rhythms in classical (and other styles) of playing. They were selected for a reason. I don't know the reasons for all of them, but as we go further in music, I see the rhythms over and over. Clap these, or other rhythms. Get some cheap rhythm instruments. We have used plastic coffee cans from Mike's for drums... we have real maracas, as well as some toy ones. Cheap tamborines from the $ store. Shakers. Some of this can be homemade - but I think that if you can get quality real ones, the sound is noticable. Practice "marching" to the beat. rhythm is SO important in music.

If you have a piano at home - start singing some of the notes. (make sure the piano is tuned!) Play a C key, and sing "Seaaaaa (C)" do the A key and sing "Aaaaaaa" (try to match the key). If you start doing this young enough, your child is very likely to develop "Perfect Pitch" which is loved by choir directors and music teachers of any instrument. If they don't develop "Perfect Pitch", they will probably still have a very strong "Relative Pitch", which is also very helpful. Note that you are not trying to teach the child where those keys are on the piano - you are teaching them that that tone or sound has a name, and this is the name.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Additions to Year 1

see here

In looking for more Canadian Content, I have found a couple of books that I am adding to Year 1.

They are both a picture book, but with a fair bit of story. These are free reads that shouldn't be missed!

  • "A Fiddle for Angus" - Budge Wilson. Based in the Maritimes, is about a boy that chooses to learn the fiddle so that he can play music with his family. (Note that one of the illustrations includes Natalie MacMaster - a famous Canadian fiddler)
  • "Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt" - Barbara Smucker Although mostly based in the States, a family moves to Upper Canada to avoid the Civil War. Generations of the family are tied together via a quilt.
Also for Year K, I have added "The Hockey Sweater" by Roch Carrier. You can hear the author read the story at the CBC archives!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yahoo Group for Files

I have created a Yahoo Group for important files. These will include Schedules, and copies of the out-of-copyright books being used in the curriculum.

Please join, and use the help!