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a head start in music, math and life

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teaching kids with no attention span

Posted by  admin  Aug 28, 2014

Something I often hear from parents is that their preschooler does not have the attention span to sit through a piano lesson.  For a traditional piano lesson attention and ability to sit still is an important aspect.  But, when you are teaching a preschooler, they probably do not have the maturity to be able to concentrate for 30 minutes.  The answer to the problem is to have a great lesson plan and curriculum to keep the pace moving and changing.  Make it fun and keep them learning while they are playing games and making creative choices.  That way they are learning skills like steady beats, finger independence, pattern recognition, counting, reading, etc which are important for learning music while having fun!  Learning music has many benefits for learning math and self control, and rhythm even improves athletic skills! 

One of the skills I teach is to recognize patterns.  How do we do that?  I have picture magnets of animals and we learn to name them (reading skills), and imitate patterns (reading and math), and create patterns (critical thinking and math).  How does this help piano?  When you read music you first learn to name what you are seeing, then recognize and imitate patterns, and eventually create new ones.  By being able to name it you are using your cognitive abilities, just like learning to read out loud.  By recognizing patterns you understand how to assemble your music and even memorize.  We also use listening skills to become better able to hear patterns of rhythm and melody.  All of these skills will lead to mastery of so much musicality in time.  But, we have to walk before we run. 

Do these things require attention span?  Not necessarily.  By doing it in a fun way, preschoolers are learning without the chore of sitting still.  I think it works very well even though parents may not see traditional piano lessons.  Eventually, the child will be able to spend more time playing piano and less time playing games.  Is it worth it?  If they learn to enjoy piano and think of it as a fun time, it is absolutely worth it!  Do you have to have a group lesson to keep your child happy?  Not at all.  In fact it might be better to let them know that a one on one lesson can also be fun!  It can be a tremendous gift to the child to know that they can learn piano and also be comfortable learning.  It will set them up for success in lessons as they mature. 

So, why start so early?  Because there are advantages to capturing a child's love of music and showing them that learning it can be fun even when it becomes a discipline.  Parents must adjust their expectations and understanding of what is being taught and how to judge accomplishment at this age.  What is being learned may not be as readily demonstrable yet, but it does set up a future musicality that I don't see in students who begin later.  There is much to gain and not all musical.  Understanding of math and linguistics as well as self control is improved.  When the child begins formal education they will have a huge head start. 

So, don't wait!