Most music programs concentrate on sound and rhythm for a three year old. These two parts of music are very important, but their training should not be limited. The Animal Note Method by Noteimals LLC makes it possible to start teaching a 3 year old to read notes successfully. You will need to purchase the “Beginning Note Reading” book and a set of the student size “Animal Note/standard note Flash Cards.” The little ones will not be ready to study timing until they are four, unless you have a very advanced three year old.
We have found, in general, that girls will advance easier and faster than most boys. Keep this in mind when you plan your teaching program. First talk to them about how a spider walks and show them a picture of a spider so they can see how their legs are curved to allow better movement of the joints in their legs. You might also buy a little black toy spider, which is easily found around Halloween, to keep on hand for this age group. They will love it, even if the little girls will squeal or say “ugh!”
Each time they have learned a new note in their piano book, show them that note on the flash card. Always repeat the story about the animal and ask them to play the note. Then turn the card over so they see the corresponding standard note, repeat the story and have them play the note. Many times the children will call the standard note the back side of the animal, which is A-OK and fun for them.
When a new note is learned, add that note to the stack of learned note cards so that all notes can be reviewed. Once they have three or more cards, let them arrange them on the music rack. Then ask them to play the song they have just arranged. The more notes they learn, the more fun they have “arranging their own music.”
After learning the first three notes in the Treble Clef, it is time to start playing in the Base Clef. A three year old has no idea what you mean by left hand, but this is a great time for him to start learning about it. Start out by calling it the “other” hand. Gradually add the idea that the “other” hand is also called the “left” hand. It is surprising how fast they pick this up on using the left hand as they play in the Base Clef.
And don’t forget to include rhythm by clapping hands, or sticks, together as you count. Talk about different sound or pitch of each new note learned and how it relates to the notes already learned. Let them listen to other music instruments making music, and talk about how they sound different than the piano.
Be gentle; keep the lessons varied and probably shorter than the time you would spend with an older child. You will so enjoy this age group, and they love learning. They will usually surprise you in the progress they are making.