A Lesson Well Learned

Around the end of one year and the beginning of another, I always spend a little time reflecting on what has shaped my life up to now as well as how to improve in the new year. In this New Year I am placing Noteimals growth at the top of my list. That decision caused me to reflect honestly on what lead to the creation of the Animal Notes method in the first place.
When I went to college, I chose to get a degree in High School Education rather than Music. I liked working with young people, and my Dad, who I really admired, had been a truly great teacher in his life time. I had one teacher in my junior year that I also looked up to. She inspired me to learn and to strive to be the best possible. During the two semesters I took classes with her, she repeated one thought over and over in many different ways, but the message was always “LOUD and CLEAR.” “If your students are not doing well, are not passing tests or taking part in class, you as their teacher need to look at how you are teaching and what you can do to get your information across to every student in you class, not just your quick learners. Be creative; don’t be afraid to do something out of the norm. Every individual is uniquely created and may take something unique to help them learn.”
That I ended up teaching music was, and still is a surprise to me. However, I love it and my student’s success bring me great joy. When I first started, several of my students quit because note reading was so difficult for them to learn, and this really upset me. My college professor’s words echoed in my head, and I felt like I was failing as a teacher. There had to be a way. Gradually I started telling stories about why each note was located where it was. These stories centered around natural animal activities. I even drew ears, eyes, horns and/or tails on the standard notes. It was working and I stopped losing students. Hurrah, I was making progress, maybe I wasn’t a complete failure after all!:)
Then I was asked to teach a child with multiple learning disabilities. It was important to his teachers, doctors, and parents that he learn the piano as they all felt strongly it would help him with his problems and strengthen his mind. He could not learn by stories alone so I created songs for him by drawing notes on the Grand Staff. It worked! A year later I was asked to attend his evaluation by those involved in this problem as he was moving to another city. Everyone there was amazed and delighted with his progress. All or them felt piano was truly making a difference. I sent his music with his parents praying that his next music teacher would accept this creativity and continue helping him learn. I never heard, but I would love to know as he was really a special young man.
Soon after this, one of my piano Moms encouraged me to create books of the materials I had been using. Her children were learning with them too and so loved what they were doing.
Do I regret a moment of the struggles and work? NO! Do I love this methods success ratio, YES! I sincerely encourage you to give it a try. Why? Because children like it, they can and do succeed and you, as a teacher will feel the reward of their success. It is a terrific feeling.
If you are a parent reading this, and your child is struggling with note reading, suggest to your child’s teacher that she try this method for your child as you want him/her to succeed.

Let’s Talk More about Teaching Music to Very Young Children

Children three and four, as well as some two and half year olds are truly so ready and eager to learn. They love the challenge, the attention, and the accomplishment, to say nothing of the praise of “Job well done!” Who among us does not thrive on the same things? Yes, young children do need the material to be on a level they can handle and have the adult’s support during learning. However, their minds are “little dry sponges, eager to soak up knowledge,” when it is presented to them with material they can understand. That is why Noteimals Animal Note music teaching method is so very valuable. By making the notes caricatures of familiar animals, and giving each animal a story that is easy to remember, these children can learn to read the note on the Grand Staff and find its location on a keyboard, whether it is a piano, inexpensive keyboard, or the beginning keyboard available on the Noteimals iPad/iPhone app.
The teaching material is written so any older child, parent, grandparent, neighbor or friend can easily teach the Note Reading and Timing books, even if they do not have any musical experience themselves. All they need is love, patience, and a desire to help a young child develop their mind. Please use the Animal Note/standard note Flash Card set as you teach, going over the notes once learned and the new notes added. Show your young student the Animal note and repeat the word clue, then tell them, that the Animal has a back of the head just like they do. The front of the head has a face, but the back doesn’t; then repeat the word clue with the standard note side.
At first they will want to use just one finger, but as a new note is added, assign that new friend a finger of its own. I sometimes put my thumb under their little hand to keep them from curling their fingers under. It does not take them too long to relax and begin the process of using their hands correctly. When it is time to start with the base notes tell them to use their “other hand” and gradually start calling it the left hand.
Two and a half year olds and most three year olds will take a year to complete the “Beginning Note Reading” book. They will not practice except when you set down with them, so take five minutes out of your day and work with them as often as you can. I must tell you that there are exceptions to every rule. I have a three year old that wants to “practice my ‘pano’” every day on her father’s iPad, and loves it . She is already working in the “Timing” and first “Fun Song” and “Christmas” song books.
This task is so rewarding, as it truly helps a child to develop both mentally and physically. And remember, we are always here to help and support you, so don’t hesitate to contact me or e-mail me at glenna@noteimals.com

Advantages of the “Beginning Note Reading” Book

The piano is a big instrument with lots of keys to be pressed down to make sounds. It is a fascinating instrument with all those black and white keys and OH!, so much fun to make noise on. A baby, who has one in their home, will reach up and push down on the keys as soon as they can pull themselves up to it, or someone sits with them at the instrument. However, it is beautifully organized with a group of three white keys around the pair of black notes and four white keys around a group of three black keys. The basis of the Animal Note Method of beginning music is associative learning. By making each of the seven basic tones of the Grand Staff, A through G a familiar animal that a child easily recognizes, each animal can take on characteristics that can help the beginner learn each note on the piano and on the Grand Staff.

The “Beginning Note Reading” Book first introduces the arrangement of the two sets of keys on the piano and what animals make their homes on these keys. Then each of the first nine notes located in the middle of the piano keyboard and Grand Staff are introduced with their story and songs.

The very young student 2 ½ to 4, it usually takes a year for them to learn this material. There are so many important life skills they are learning at the same time. Their lessons should be short and fun. They will be learning matching. The will be matching the animal on the page to the one on the keyboard chart that is located behind the black keys, following that key down and pressing it. WOW, that is a big thing for a very young child, but they can do it and love it. They are also strengthen their eye hand coordination. They learn the story associated with each animal and by using the “Animal Note/standard note” Flash Card set, they associate that story with the Animal’s “back of the head” (standard note}. They love to “make” their own songs by arranging the cards and playing the notes. It is really big stuff for them. They begin the use of all their fingers on both hand and they conquer the challenge of recognizing and using their “other hand” (left hand). All these skills introduced and used at this young age helps them in other learning and their future. It is a “Win-Win” project well worth your time and theirs. This book is designed so anyone, whether they have any past music training not can easily teach their child, grandchild, or just someone you care a lot about. It is a gift that keeps on giving! 

Why Teach Piano to a 2-3 year old Child?

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!”

Two Year Olds Learn to Play the Piano

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 glenna@noteimals.com.
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.

Advantages of the Animal Note Method of Beginning Music

This relatively new method of teaching beginning music is based on time tested teaching methods. First of all we all learn better if we are able to associate the new information with something we already know about. This makes understand something that is “foreign” to us a lot easier and we are far more comfortable with it. By making the standard oval of the music note and adding a few lines and circles to it caricatures of familiar animals that are not only familiar, but friends of young children, the strange notes that are on a bunch of lines suddenly become friendly and fun to work with and learn about. By having a little story about each animals location on the music staff and the it location on the keyboard instrument, learning to play the keyboard can be accomplished by children as young as 3, and even younger children can begin to recognize the Animal Notes on the Grand Staff and the keyboard.

Note Reading and Timing are the two building foundation stones of music. The Animal Note Method stresses these two important factors in its beginning books. There are three note reading books, one for piano, guitar, and violin. They teach the beginning notes of the first positions of each of these instruments. Timing is built into to the beginning violin book, but there is a separate book that stresses just timing for the piano and guitar. By using the already learned Animal Notes, training the individual’s ear to listen to the length of the notes is much easier, making learning timing a lot easier. As accurate timing is learned, its true value is appreciated as “Fun” songs are played and applauded by family and friends. It is very hard for many to do this when learning standard music notation. When it is difficult to figure at the next note to be played, timing takes the back seat in importance.

With the set of Animal Note/standard note flash cards and a set of suggested story ideas, it is easy and fun to help the student learn the standard note from the information attached to each Animal Note. The Animal Notes have families; the Mothers of each family live in the middle of the Grand Staff and for piano, in the middle of the keyboard. The children are located in the top of the musical staff (and keyboard), and the fathers are in the lower range. Again, we’re using associative learning as the teaching tool.

Teaching music should be fun and successful. The Animal Note Method goes a long way in making that happen.

Violin Note Reading for Children

The Animal Note Method is proud to announce the addition of a new book in the series. This book has been four years in the planning, development and testing stages before it was ready to make its debut.
Violin has been taught to young children for years by the Suzuki method with great success, except that when the child came to trying to note read, it was even more frustrating. Our teaching studio has experienced this more than once. Reading standard music notation can be very frustrating, especially when it slows your progress down to the pace of a turtle, when you are used to running like a rabbit. Sometimes a student will quit before they have a chance to succeed.
A child can play a piece by ear and do very well. A well trained ear is very important to successfully play the violin as there are no frets to guide the fingers. Placement tape is usually used in the beginning, which is of great value, but the ear must learn the tone being played so it is recognized and played correctly when the tape is removed. However, learning pieces by ear for most individual can limit the number of songs played. Eventually notes reading must be mastered.
Understand this and the student’s frustration, Noteimals has developed a book that teaches a child to note read while learning to play this lovely instrument. It has been very successful for our students and they love it. We hope you will too.
Since violin music is usually written in the treble clef, we have created and made available, the Animal Note/standard note classroom and student flash cards sets and the note word clues for the notes associated with this clef. By teaching the word clue associated with each animal and then showing the standard note and repeating the clue your student will quickly learn and remember each note. These flash cards and word clues are a vital part of the note reading training and should be used regularly.

Teaching a Three Year Old

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.

Why Choose the Animal Note Method

All the social and nosiness networking sites on the internet today make keeping up on what is new in the music business a lot easier than even 10 years ago. A lot of us are trying to make music education fun and easier to conquer for beginners than it was when I was a child. I am delighted to see this. In so many ways music education enriches an individual’s life. It helps in metal development, improves eye – hand coordination, and opens doors to new friendships with other students and musicians, thus helping an individual’s social development. With all the new choices, why would you want to choose the Animal Note Method developed by Noteimals LLC? To make that decision you need to understand what makes the method of beginning music education so successful and satisfying to work with.

The method is based on associative learning. Learning something new when it is based or associated with something you already understand makes new knowledge easier to understand. The Animals Note Method takes the standard music notes and makes the ovals into caricatures of friendly and familiar animals. Each animal has a short story that explains their location on the Grand Staff. The first nine notes normally learned on the piano are the “Mother Notes”, the notes from the E below Middle C are the “Daddy Notes,” and the notes from A above the Middle C are the “Children Notes.” Family is so important in all of our lives, and the children love the idea that the music notes have a family too. The stories about each not help students learn the notes location on the Grand Staff while studying music in the “Animal Note Method”; then they can easily use this same information to recognize the notes in Standard music notation. This method making learning the notes fun and so much easier. This method allows a parent or teacher to start a child as young as 3 to read and play music without frustration. It also works wonders with the older children as it allows them to catch on quickly and move ahead with confidence.

Music Versus Texting

There is a lot of well-founded concern today about texting and what this is doing to the young minds of young people. Investigators are concerned that it is slowing or seriously affecting the developing brain of the young people who use it constantly
The mind is a wonderful part of every human being and we need to do all we can to help in it’s development. Much research has also gone into the effect that learning a musical instrument has on mental development. Google will give you about 98,000,000 results on this search. The results of the studies done to this point have been positive. Tests show that a youngster who plays an instrument for 3 or more years does much better in school, showing more concentration, self-discipline and better grades. It has also been shown that the study of music, especially playing an instrument, significantly helps the development of the left side of the brain which is involved in our ability to think logically and to do math. WOW!

Playing an many instrument requires using not only the left hand, which is controlled by the right side of the brain, but also the fingers on that hand. Some instrument requires the left hand to work independent of the right to create the lovely sound of the melody being played. Think about this for a moment. How many things do you do in a day that requires that?

Music is based on being able to read notes and understand timing. Reading standard music is often very difficult for a beginner, regardless of age. Many quit before they have a chance to succeed. The Animal Note Method of beginning music education has made great strides toward solving that problem. Now children as young as three can begin to learn to play the piano and succeed. It is amazing, beautiful and wonderful to watch these little ones learn and love to play the piano and do a good job of it. Older children enjoy it as well, and they are secure in their note reading and timing as they move on to music written in standard notation. It is now possible for any child to have a good musical education.
Music education in your children’s lifes provides alternative avenues for them to communicate, beyond texting, with their friends, family and community while enhancing their minds for success in future endeavors.