Q & A PIANO CLASSES

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What do students learn in Music Moves for piano?

*Improvise , play by ear, transpose and harmonize

*Compose , arrange, read and write music notation

*Sing and play -accompany singers and instrumentalists

*Perform with comfort and fluency

*Play with technical ease and freedom from muscular tension

*Listen to and perform music  with understanding- they audiate

*Become independent music thinkers

How is your piano instruction different than other piano instruction?

We use a stimulating, revolutionary approach to piano instruction that is based on extensive research about how children best learn music. Students are given opportunity to acquire the language of music in a way that encourages independent music making and musical thinking. With emphasize on music as both an aural ( listening) and oral ( performing ) art, our program develops the  entire musician while students sing, chant, and move to music they will learn to play.  A solfege ( syllable) system helps students organize the sounds they know and is key to successful transition to reading notation. When students are ready to read, they are able to bring meaning to what they see on the page. Incorporated into this instruction is a wise and systematic presentation of purely pianistic skills ( keyboard knowledge, technique and body awareness) using an attractive and musically rich repertoire of folk and original compositions. Creativity  and improvisation are part of each lesson from the very beginning. And finally, students in our program are given an opportunity to take advantage of the  benefits of peer group setting in addition to their private lesson.

What books do you use in class?

We use a new series called Music Moves for Piano ( published by GIA in Chicago), which was written specifically to apply the systematic and profound music learning theory of Edwin Gordon. Students who used this series show high retention, secure performance skills, solid reading and writing skills , music creativity, and development of audiation skills ( the ability to think musically with understanding). Many are able to easily create arrangements of songs, transpose and harmonize songs, improvise, compose original music, or play music for parties.

Explain the private/group lesson format that is available

Students benefit tremendously from group instruction. They not only enjoy being with one another, but also learn more from watching and listening to one another. In Piano Transitions Classes , we use one piano  and limit the group size to 2-4 students so that the instructor is able to observe all individual playing. For older students ( first grade and above) , flexible schedule is the key to our Piano Lesson format. Some students come for a 30 min private lesson and then share lesson time with the following student for another 15-30 min. Some students share a full lesson together for 45- 60 min. Some students schedule  only a 30 min private lesson.

What do you do at the lessons?

Lesson activities are organized around four specific areas of musical development:

1. Audiation skills ( ability to think musically with understanding) using singing, chanting, moving, and pattern instruction.

2. Keyboard geography and technique

3. Keyboard exploration, creativity, and improvisation

4. Book/ listening assignments.

Students will engage in movement and sing songs that will later be performed. They will also chant and sing tonal and rhythmic patterns, and learn to play piano pieces, initially without using notation.

Is your program like the Suzuki program?

There are some similarities. We both believe that children learn best through listening rather than the printed page, emphasize the importance of positive early music experiences, make comparisons to language  development , and incorporate both group and private instruction. However, the Suzuki program encourages children to learn to imitate, whereas our program encourages children to go one step further and learn to audiate. As a result, our program emphasizes creativity and pattern instruction in addition to its sequential repertoire.Both methods use carefully chosen and properly sequenced literature; however, MUSIC MOVES uses shorter pieces and more diverse collection of tonalities and meters. In practice , Suzuki students are asked to listen to an entire lengthy "paragraph" of music and then to play it. MUSIC MOVES students are asked to listen to and understand a few "words" in a much shorter "paragraph". Those musical "words" ( or patterns) are recognized in the many short pieces the students learn to play.

What exactly is audiation?

Audiation is the ability to think musically with understanding , to be able to hear musical sounds even if there is no music present , to be able to sense when and what to sing or play.  Audiation contrasts with imitation because it  involves learning through one's own ears rather than someone else's ears.

How do you teach children to audiate?

The easiest and best way  is to begin with positive music listening and exploratory experiences with infants, toddlers, and preschool children to encourage the development of a rich musical vocabulary. Participation in our Music Together® classes provides an excellent opportunity for those experiences. Listening to just commercial children or music videos will provide experiences with a limited number of sounds, an action similar to feeding your child only their  two favorite foods, or teaching them only some of the letters of the alphabet. After age 4-5 , the MUSIC MOVES program continues to use a developmentally appropriate , but more formal, sequential approach  (with more expectations for correctness) and emphasizes the continued development of a music vocabulary. When students are comfortable with tonal and rhythm patterns, we introduce syllables to help them organize the patterns. Soon they are able to play and create a piece that begins on "DO" as G.

When and how do the children learn to read notation?

Just as in language development , children learn to read when they are ready. Some children pick it up quickly without much teacher assistance. Other need more time and assistance. In our approach to music literacy, the use of pattern instruction and associating syllables with the patterns is key to the transition to reading notation. Students much more easily associate symbols on the  page with  the patterns they have sung, moved to, and understand in their heads. Moreover, the ability to give meaning to notes, phrases and styles is preferable to just reading note names and finding the right keys.

What if my child needs to change teachers at some point? Will the transition to a traditional method be difficult?

Students can transition very easily to a traditional method. Any perceptive piano  teacher will recognize that  your child has inner musical skills , which are the foundation for good piano playing.

When is  the best time to start piano instruction?

At MUSIC MOVES , we believe children  are most successful playing an instrument when they complete a strong aural and movement readiness program, are able to sing in tune and keep steady beat, and possess a desire to meet the challenges of playing an instrument. Families are encouraged to consider our Music Together classes and  the Piano Transitions Class before enrolling in Piano Lessons. Students are generally ready for the Piano Transitions class in Kindergarten and all students begin Piano Lessons in first grade. Some Preschoolers are able to successfully participate in the Piano Transitions class .

How do we decide whether to sign up  for Piano Transitions Class or Piano Lessons?

The pace and activities of the Transitions Class are developmentally appropriate for Kindergarten age children  and some preschoolers. Students may re enroll a second year in Piano  Transitions Class. Students enrolled in Transitions Class are not required to have  a keyboard , but will make more progress and enjoy being  able to share pieces at home. The pace and activities of Piano Lessons is developmentally appropriate for some students first grade and older. Some kindergarten students are able to enroll in Piano Lessons if they have completed Piano Transitions Classes. Students enrolling in Piano Lessons are expected to have  a piano available for some home practice , attend all of the schedule lessons, and will have  opportunity for more individual lesson time.

How much practice will be necessary?

Students enrolled in Piano Transitions Class are not expected to practice , but encouraged to share their pieces at home and  listen to the CD's. Ideally, some practice should occur every day for children  enrolled in Piano Lessons. Expectations for each child will vary, however.

How can we help our children practice?

You can best help practice by recognizing that a regular time each  day helps build a good practice habit. The earlier in the  day, the easier it is for practice to occur. Try to find ways to reward your child externally for practice. At lessons, we reward with stickers. At home , look for other ways to encourage your child. Remember , praise is always the most coveted reward. In addition , help your young children deal with practice time by focusing on repetition rather than a specific amount of required time at the piano. Playing  each piece three times or tree different ways is less overwhelming than practicing for 30 min. Remember that listening to the CD's and creating pieces at home should  be a regular part of practice time along with creating  a piece each day. Review is also an important part of piano instruction. Students may practice specific review pieces listed in each unit or any other pieces that they have already learned. For a demonstration of the  rhythm system that we use , watch the on line video from Marilyn Lowe's piano studio in Springfield, MO www.musicmovesforpiano.com

Can my child start piano lessons before we have piano at home? What about digital or electronic keyboard?

Students do not need a keyboard for the Piano Transitions Class, although it does make classes more enjoyable for them and they usually make better progress. Students must have an acoustic or digital piano for Piano Lessons. A good acoustic piano is preferable; however, digital pianos are acceptable. If you choose to purchase a digital piano, plan to replace it with  an acoustic in about 3 years.

Where we can find a good Piano?

If you plan to purchase an acoustic piano , Field's Pianos has an excellent selection of used pianos as well as new pianos. At Rawlings Piano in Laguna Niguel you can even rent a piano at a reasonable price. If you plan to purchase a digital keyboard, please purchase a full size keyboard and request that the action simulate an acoustic piano. The Yamaha and Roland digital keyboards can be seen and heard at Keyboard World www.keyboardworld.net

What happens if we need to miss a class?

Please read the Piano Policies on line before registration