I teach several large families. Several of them are home schooled, so I am able to teach in the mornings and early afternoon, as well as after school. This is a wonderful testing ground for the Animal Note Method, and it doesn’t take me long to figure out what is working, and what isn’t. The children are also very good at catching my mistakes and questioning why things are done one way or another. Watching their progress and joy in music is the greatest of rewards. Because they understand what they are learning, they work harder and their advancement can be amazing.
However, there has been an interesting side effect with large families. The youngest children are eager to try their hand at the piano too. This really grew when the Noteimals app became available for the iPhones and iPads. It was designed to help young children gain an interest in music and playing the piano. It wasn’t long before even the two year olds wanted in on the action. They were so eager, I couldn’t say “no.” I want to share some of the “ups and downs” of this ongoing experience.
A child this young has a difficult time using more than one finger when they play. I start conquering this challenge by naming their fingers the same as the Animal Note it should play. The will ask me, “Is this the ‘Cat’ finger?” They are really trying. It is very awkward for them at first, but they are learning to use their finger independent of each other, and an important skill in and of itself. I have learned that it is most difficult for the majority of the very young children to use the thumb until they are close to three or for some even older. When it is time to start playing the Base notes, the left hand is at first called “the other hand.” Gradually I will start calling the hands by their proper left and right names. Many children do not learn this until they are much older because there is not an important reason for them acquire that bit of information. However, it does put these children a step ahead in education. Another wonderful educational gift you are giving these youngsters is constant training in ‘eye-hand coordination.” This is an extremely valuable skill for all of us, and the earlier that this is mastered, the better.
Most important of all with the very young student, “Keep it short and keep it fun!”
I hope you’ll welcome the new changes in my blogs about Noteimals. For years, I have blogged in third person about the importance of music in a child’s life, but very little about teaching itself. After teaching for more than 45 years, I have changed a lot in my teaching techniques, as well as my thinking about teaching. Now I think it is about time I share some of this adventure with you. Hopefully, you might learn something you like and feel might help you with your teaching, whether you are a parent teaching your children or a music teacher. I also hope we can have some fun, and share some laughs. Please, if you have questions or comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new Noteimals app for the iPhones and iPads has opened a whole new page in my teaching experience. Because of the Noteimals new app, I am now teaching four little girls that are only two. Wait a minute, “two year” olds are just too young to start playing a keyboard, even one as small as the one on the app for the iPhone. At least that is what I thought. Boy, have these little girls taught this old teacher a thing or two. They can handle it and truly enjoy doing so. Yes, it would probably not be possible for a child this young using standard music notation, but the Animal Note Method, published by Noteimals LLC Company has opened this door for them. And they can be introduced gradually to the standard notes. The children have faces, right? Is there a face on the back of their heads? The girls all laugh at this though and tell me, “NO.” Then I show them the back side of the Animal Note Flash card we are studying and ask them who’s back of the animal it belongs to. With the help of the word clues they will correctly identify the note correctly with good repetition. They can even find the note correctly on the keyboard. YES, their lessons are short and they girls have trouble using more than one finger on each hand to play the keys, but play they do, and love it. Gradually they learn to use all their fingers, using both of their hands. WOW what a great experience this is!
Last week the oldest of the group, she turns three this month” asked to play “Jingle Bell.” I posted her success on Noteimals Facebook page. I think it is amazing for a child this age! She is also using more than one finger, plays two notes together correctly in the beginning of the song and is trying to curve her little fingers. That is really difficult for a child this age.