Why is Piano Important for my 4-5 Year Old?
The potential to achieve in music is called music aptitude.
Music aptitude is developmental until age nine when it stabilizes.
A rich and appropriate musical environment for young children that includes purposeful singing, chanting, body movement, and rhythm and tonal pattern acculturation influences a child’s potential to learn music. Guided improvisation and creativity activities affect music aptitude.
~Marilyn Lowe, Music Moves for Piano
As the quote above states, music instruction is in it’s most vital time before age 9. The earlier the better!
Due to the way students learn at this age, it is important to know as you journey into piano that their lessons will not feel like a “traditional” piano lesson.
Music notation, note names, and other musical terminology are not essential at this age and can actually distract from students learning how to audiate (hear music with understanding). The ability to learn a “prepared” piece varies with age and maturation.
How Your Student Will Learn Piano
We learn music the way we learn language. There are five steps that I consider in the process of your childs musical education through the piano.
Our first exposure to language when we are babies is the process of being completely absorbed in and listening to people speak to us.
Students will learn music by experiencing music in a wide variety of meters and tonalities. With younger students especially, that is accomplished through singing short songs and rhythm chants in a variety of meters and tonalities and moving to the music (not just tapping along to a beat).
As babies grow, they begin to “babble” and make sounds in reaction to the language they are hearing. After we babble, we first learn to form individual words.
Students will learn music through instruction of short tonal and rhythm patterns (like words). Those patterns will at first simply be the student echoing the teacher. Eventually students will be able to create their own patterns (a.k.a. have their own thoughts).
The words we learn then build into complete sentences where we’re forming our own thoughts.
Students will learn to “think” music. The formal term, called “audiation,” is developed through the process of all of these steps. Once students get to the thinking phase, they are able to not only understand the music they are hearing (duple or triple meter? major or minor tonality or something else?), but they then begin to be able to create their own musical thoughts and ideas.
We don’t learn to read words until we can already speak them. When we do, we learn individual words and from there, sentences.
Students will learn to read music after they have already learned to “audiate” musical sounds. Introducing notation too early can potentially interfere or stifle their audiation skills. For this reason, students are not introduced to notation from the very first lesson as is traditionally experienced in piano lessons.
We learn to write letters, then words, then sentences only after we have the ability to “think” for ourselves and converse.
Students will learn to write music only after they have learned to audiate sounds and read music notation. This will be far down the line! Having students learn to draw quarter notes is not learning music. That is learning about music notation. The most imortant goal is that they learn to hear and understand what quarter notes sound like.
Other Types of Skills My Preschool Student Will Develop
- Rhythmic awareness through whole body movement activities
- Realize large-motor arm movement and freedom in the joints
- Improve fine motor control in little fingers
- How to approach the keyboard physically
- Keyboard awareness through exploration
- Decipher fast/slow, soft/loud, high/low, long/short, same/different
- Become sensitive to the expressive qualities of music
Improvisation (spontaneously making music) will be highly encouraged!
- To ensure success, parents should be prepared to be directly invoved in the students DAILY piano time at home.
- Avoid the word “practice.” Tell student’s it’s time to “play” piano.
- View this time as bonding with your child, sharing in the fun of music
Points to note
- There will be a lot of repetition of concepts and activities.
- Students will spend more time away from the keyboard than at the keyboard.
- Standing is permitted as well as walking from one end of the keyboard to the other to explore.
- Students will be taught “how a piece goes” along with its playing “location” rather than music notation and reading.
- “Perfect performance” is not the main goal.
- When in a class setting, sometimes children are often unresponsive or hesitant to participate. Do not force them to participate – they will join in when they are ready. Some students are also more responsive to the activities and participate more freely at home – at least at the beginning. This is normal.
- Do not compare your child’s accomplishments with another’s. Children develop at different rates!
Interested in Learning More?
Feel free to contact Amy by clicking here.