'Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play'.
The Music Lesson, Henri Matisse, 1917.
When I first read this quote by Matisse on a classroom wall, it immediately appealed to the 'curious' piano teacher in me, especially the bit about having a love of play!
'Play' is an important part of my instrumental lessons, especially at the beginning stages, and one of the easiest ways of introducing play is through appealing and engaging songs and games. What's more, the songs and games provide accessible ways to introduce musical skills and concepts and can help to bridge the gap between the sound and symbol.
The researchers, Richard Parncutt and Gary McPherson, have written extensively about how and when to introduce notation to young instrumentalists. They concluded that no single approach could be argued to be the solution but they did identify several steps that would help young pupils make the links needed between what they saw and what they heard and played. Here are five of them:
- 'Familiar pieces should be taught by rote and by repeated listening’
- ‘Emphasis should be on encouraging beginners to sing and then play familiar repertoire on their instrument’
- ‘Singing helps to establish a correct mental model’
- ‘Singing should be a common and natural part of all early lessons’
- ‘Mentally and outwardly rehearsing (singing and fingering) a piece by ear develops ability to experience sounds through gestures and touch’
(p. 110, Parncutt and MacPherson, The Science and Psychology of Music Performance, 2002)
So, to get you going here is a link to Spinning Top, a song that will help young pupils to start to build just such musical structures in their heads whilst 'playing'.
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