Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fun With Music - Let's Play Piano! 认识音乐第一章

When Ethan was around 18 months old, we bought him a Casio keyboard. Since the price was rather reasonable, we figured it's more worth it to get him a real functioning keyboards instead of a toy keyboard.

Ethan really loved it, he can sit and practice all by himself until he finally got the right tune. In particular, he was working hard to get "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" right, and he finally did. I can still recall the sparkles in his eyes when he played that song to me and hub for the first time, he was so proud and pleased with himself that he kept asking us, "is it nice?". We too, were feeling proud of him.

Soon after, he learnt to pluck the same song on his little ukulele bought by Daddy, it's a really lovely handcraft ukulele with a bear shape halo in the center. That's when hub and myself decided that he is probably ready for some music lessons.

Unfortunately, when we asked around few music centers, we were told the enrollment age was 4 years old and some suggested to let him try out music appreciation class, so we let him attended a 30 min trial session, where a group of small kids did clapping, body movement, tapping maracas etc under the direction of an instructor... He clearly did not enjoyed that so we decided not signed up and let him continued with self exploration under our guidance. This is to stick to our principal - we want him to enjoy what he does, not to do the things because we wanted him to.

Until one fine day, I passed by a nearby Yamaha school and I noticed they offer holiday class of 30min with choice of musical instruments from piano to guitar and drum for RM29 (weeekdays) and RM40 (weekends) per lesson. So I thought, no harm to give Ethan a try and see if he likes the class and is interested to start attending piano lesson.

Ethan during first piano lesson - learning to use bot left and right hands.

He was 3.5 yo then, and to my surprise, he totally enjoyed the class despite he was rather shy at first. The music teacher was obviously experience in handling young kids and managed to break the ice with Ethan, so eventually he opened up his heart and let the music flew freely.

It's been more than 4 months now and he still happily attend the classes every weekend, does his practice and homework at home (we got him an electronic piano). Even I got to learn the basic since parent is allowed to accompany the child, from chord recognition, note reading to playing simple songs; so it is indeed a fun activity that both mommy and son enjoyed. :)

In the middle of his lesson while teacher stepped out, he paused to let me snap a picture :)

So here I am now, sitting on the side of the piano watching my little handsome playing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas". It's amazing to see his determination to learn, memorise and to have the discipline to practice by himself (albeit we often had to remind him to complete his homework, after all who likes homework? ;)

Ethan practicing at night.. Some how this picture really touched my heart, I admired his self-initiative at such young age.

One can easily tell how much he enjoyed his lesson judging from his smile..

Sharing from My Experience

To end this post, here are my sharing with parents who cannot decide if its right time to enroll their kids into music lessons:

  • train up little one to master the finger skill through activities like building puzzles, drawing, playing blocks etc. playing musical instruments require good brain-eye-hand coordination (recognizing the note, translating it to the key and pressing the right key with right timing), so having those basic training certainly helps to give a good head start.

  • Enroll the little ones only after he/she learns to read and write and holding pens, the very least will be A - G, the music chords.

  • Doing his course work

  • Prepare music instruments at home for little ones to freely explore, give guidance and encouragement where possible. Since I had not acquired any music instrument skills since young, I often just sing aloud to my duo and play different types of music at home or while traveling, including my personal all time favorite - Beatles!

  • The educational DVDs, Baby Einstein and Little Einsteins are ideal options to introduce classical music to little ones since young. Ethan can recognize quite a number of classical pieces thanks to these videos..

  • Most importantly, get the right music teacher who can "click" with your little ones. The teacher should knows how to encourage and guide your little ones, and should be someone who genuinely likes kids. Attending trial lessons certainly helps to assess if the person is a right coach who can bring out the potential in your kiddo. I'm thankful that we found a right teacher in first trial, what a luck!

  • That's all folks. This post comes from the point of view of a music novice mommy, I welcome constructive feedback for the benefit of myself and other readers. Otherwise I hope you find this useful :)

    Last Note...
    This is only the beginning of Ethan's music journey and I'm determined to let him continues for as long as he remains interested. I do not expect him to be a great musician, but knowing how to play a musical instrument is definitely a useful skill, besides it helps to build patience and most importantly, music is food for our souls, just like reading. Since the fee is reasonable and my little boy had fun, I don't see a reason not to continue :)

    Phew, what a long post... If you've read this far, thank you for reading and hope you find something useful here..


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    1. Great that you found a nice teacher. I did the same as you last year, when my boy was 2.5 years old. But I found a lousy teacher! Ended up I didn't continue for the lesson after 4 classes. The teacher no patient at child. the class suppose to start at 11am, when i reach the school, the teacher still sleeping!!!!

      Throughout the 4 lessons, he learnt to play - Do Mi Do Mi Re Re Re, this was what the impatient teacher taught him.

      1. Hi Psedornna Joey, sorry for the late reply and on your lousy experience with the first music teacher. Hope she did not kill your boy's interest in music!

        My boy is able to read the notes and play by himself and had progressed to the 2nd book. Would suggest please continue to search for a right teacher that can inspires and couches him according to his progress, a trial class is a must. Anyway, 2.5yo in my opinion is a bit too young to expect him to sit still throughout the 30 minutes lesson, so >3yo maybe just ideal....