Mominpa asked (in response to my piano recital blogging) about how we do piano lessons. We believe in of teaching them young to get those neuro-connections established in their developing brains. Suzuki appealed to us as the best method for teaching the 2-7 year old range especially, and we have been quite pleased.
Kaira and Kendra each started between age 3 and 3 ½.. Suzuki focuses heavily on ear training, but progressively incorporates more and more music theory and note reading. Basically they listen to CDs of the same music they are playing for most of their pieces, listening to a piece on cd until it is a familiar friend. (They do separate pieces for sight reading just a short way into their studies.)
I like the fact that Suzuki has so much parent involvement. While they do take lessons and go to a teacher once per week, parents are a big part of the lesson, and do an enormous amount of teaching at home. The teacher works to teach the parent as well as the child so that we can coach our budding musicians at home.
Once a month their teacher has a “group lesson” which allows the children to learn theory together, play their pieces for each other and such. Im not convinced that they learn much theory at these lessons, but they have fun and become well accustomed to playing an instrument for others. Guild, Masters Classes, and Recitals provide further opportunities for them to play in front of a group. Especially since they begin so young, they never have a chance to learn what stage-fright is. Playing for others is quite natural to them. (Perhaps TOO natural. If you come to visit they’ll probably beg to play for you! ).
I usually start teaching the children myself. I get them through the first few songs, which are various rhythm variations of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Once these are underway though, I do let the teacher coach us every week.
Suzuki is just the method that fits for us. Several people commented wondering about teaching piano on their own with the books they have on hand, and I admire you and think it is fantastic!
The thing I thin that is most effective for having the small folk practice is that it isnt an isolated thing. I dont leave a 3 year old (or a 4 or 5 or 6 year old) at the piano doing endless scales in the room by herself. Im sitting there with her, prompting, helping, etc and it is together time.
Generally I aim for 5-20 minute practice sessions 3 times per day with each child. Some months we do great, other months each child gets only one session per day in. (To be honest the past 3 months weve not done well on getting all three in.)
My eldest now does 5-15 minutes in the morning by herself, then later in the day has a session or two with me at her side. Shes old enough I wanted her to begin to take a little more ownership and discipline herself for some of her practice time.
That was long and probably dull. But hey, someone asked.