Archive | April, 2014

Intuitive Playing for Children

play, intuition, and ear

Teaching Children Music

If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.

—Shin’ichi Suzuki

 

Introducing music to your child is one of the greatest gifts you can give.  It sharpens the senses and relaxes the mind.  The benefits of building a strong musical foundation will be revisited throughout life.  In a post-war Japan, Shin’ichi Suzuki used music to renew a sense of beauty into people’s lives after the devastation of World War II.  The Suzuki method was developed to encourage playing in a natural way, by feeling rather than intellect.  He believed that creating the ‘right environment’ would foster excellent character in his students.  Song-playing is encouraged rather than technical exercises, with a heavy emphasis placed on learning by ear.

Each student contains unique pathways to learning.  If the initial learning experience is approached with intuition, curiosity, and trust, the student will have more fun and will be drawn to the instrument more naturally.  A student must first reach an appropriate level of maturity to play in order to retain focus, with a genuine interest in exploring sounds.  The act of play should be free and easy, where the posture is supported yet relaxed.  Eventually, a communication emerges between student and instrument.  Effective lessons should instill confidence in the student and be part of a fun, rewarding experience.

As a teacher at Philly Music Lessons, I’ve found that young beginners learn most effectively when they are introduced to brief recognizable melodies.  Using short repetitive phrases, their ears begin to pick up on tonal patterns while the movements of their fingers become absorbed in muscle memory.  It’s amazing to see the light bulbs go off when a student learns how to play one of their favorite songs.

Intuitive playing emphasizes process over repertoire driven results.  Students should enjoy their lessons, while the teacher should make sure students develop a solid feel for rhythm, melody and harmony.  Learning in the spirit of lighthearted exploration is the surest way to achieve success at the piano and begin a lifetime appreciation for music.