First, a little history. I grew up in a small town. There was no singing teacher, but there was a piano teacher. My grandmother was the local church organist. My mother was a fluent piano player (reading chord charts) and playing by ear.
As a young child our family would regularly gather at Grandma’s house and sing old songs like By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, or Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey, or I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover. The list goes on forever, and that’s where I developed a true love for singing………..just for the joy of it.
I started piano lessons around the age of 5 or 6. It was easy and fun in the beginning. It grew harder as I got older, and I can still remember in Grade 5 Grade School when I asked my mother if I could quit, and she said “no”. She said, ” you are too young to make that decision on your own. I want you to continue until you finish your Grade 8 exam”. Well, that’s what I did, and no more. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not going to say it was fun, but I developed a strong sense of responsibility and discipline along the way.
During that same time, however, I was learning to chord on the piano to accompany my singing, the same way my mother and grandmother did. They showed me everything they knew. By the age of 13, I started a 4-piece band with my 11-year-old sister on drums, and a friend on bass, and another friend of guitar. We weren’t very good. But oh, how I loved to just sing and chord on the piano.
We continued to do that for, I think, two or three years, and we got better! We performed at local church gatherings, and wedding and baby showers. I remember the matching halter tops we had with flare black pants…yes, we had to have the same outfit!
The experiences and songs I learned to play in that band were the stepping stones to my next band when I was just 16. Everyone else was over 20…….I had to sit in the back when we played our music at the local tavern.
So, enough about my background. But, what I want you to remember here is that I DID NOT LIKE MY PIANO LESSONS. I managed to get through the sight-reading, etc., mainly because I was a responsible young person, and my mother wanted me to. Well, thank goodness I did! I would never be where I am now if I hadn’t learned how to sight read classical music, and achieve at least my Grade 8 Royal Conservatory piano. (I’m now in the process of trying to convince my 13-year-old daughter to do the same, ha ha…..She plays her Grade 4 exam in less than three weeks…..wish us luck! I feel like it’s me preparing for the exam!)
Anyway, back to the subject on hand……….Music for Young Children. What is it? Well, it’s a piano-based music program that involves the parent and child. I truly believe if my mother had been involved in my piano lessons growing up, I would have had no complaints. But she wasn’t. She would tell me to go practise before dinner, but she really wasn’t involved. She didn’t know what scales or triads I was suppose to practise each week, and she only knew the song I was working on because she had to listen to it over and over. To make matters worse, the piano was in the basement, (which was cold and lonely), and she was usually upstairs in the kitchen making supper. Well, I’m proud to say that that is nothing close to what my daughter is experiencing, however tortuous she thinks her piano practising is! Our piano is on the main floor and I can see her from my kitchen as she practises her arpegios and triads. I can talk to her and tell her how great she is doing, and ask her to do more!
My daughter is a lot like me. She loves to sit and tinker at the piano………she’ll practise chord playing and sing to her favourite songs all day long….but won’t budge to practise her scales and triads on her own without being asked.
However, my daughter has the best of both worlds, although she doesn’t realize it yet. I had the best of both worlds as well because I had my mother and grandmother to teach me ear-training and chord playing, and show me my true love of music.
In Music for Young Children, kids get to learn chord playing as well as ear-training, and of course, sight-reading. That’s right! Song like Jingle Bells, Hot Cross Buns and Mary Had a Little Lamb are just a few examples of the songs that are played with left-hand chords in MYC. Children learn harmony right away. We sing these patterns, we play these patterns, and we understand these harmony patterns as chords. What a fabulous way to teach children!! It’s easy, it’s fun, and especially useful in the 21st century where music is made up many genres of music where ear-training is essential….not just sight-read for classical study.
As I said children learn to sight-read too, of course. However, we don’t learn by remembering rhymes like “every good boy deserves fudge”…..even though, that’s how I learned the names of the lines and spaces. Instead the young children learn about critters who have names in stories that match the keyboard and staff. These stories are so fun and easy to remember. Even the big kids like the stories. It makes it so easy for them to remember the notes!!
I’ll write again soon about the Music for Young Children program. It’s available worldwide, and it’s a fabulous way to teach your child the language of music. You can find a teacher in your area here ….. www.myc.com. Susan
p.s. Did I mention that the kids learn how to compose? They also learn how to read rhythm ensembles! There’s more……..but I’ll save that for another post!