Saturday, April 9, 2011

Piano Lesson - Old MacDonald Style

My daughter has been talking about wanting to have piano lessons like her brother. I have been teaching him in impromtu lessons since about first grade, which she is now in, really nothing formal because that's how it kind of it started and he lost interest when we started talking about the lines and spaces.

He does have quite a collection of songs he can play after two years, nothing extravagant like a symphony by Mozart, but I would say he's got a good 25 - 30 songs under his belt most of which he can play without the book. He finds an interest in a song, asks me to teach him to play it, I play it for him a few times showing him the keys to play and with a little practice he is usually able to pick up the song. He doesn't like playing much with his left hand but does do a few songs with both hands. He doesn't play much by the book and that's okay with me, he's learning, thinks it's fun, and plays enough that she is now interested too.

Neither one can pass the piano by without tinkering a little something out. His standby is either "Eye of the Tiger" or a little circus tune we call Doctor Doctor.

I decided to take a little different approach with her, being that she loves stickers I chose to (godforbid) put colored stickers (on my grandmother's 100+ year old piano) on the keys each with their own color see below.

We put a STAR sticker on middle C so whe would know where to start and we talked about the different letters of the musical alphabet. She liked the fact that it only goes to G and then starts over again with A - she said it was much easier than the regular alphabet. She picked up quickly and was able to name the letters off faster than I thought she would. We then picked out a song in the book that she wanted to learn.

Old MacDonald, yes good old Old MacDonald who my children are convinced must be a distant relative somewhere like a great great great grandfather or something as MacDonald is my maiden name. They still laugh whenever we talk about it and I'm not sure they really believe that it was once my name.

We talked about finger position rather than the notes themselves and we numbered the notes on the page to help identify which finger to use on what key. I left some numbers out so she could fill them in herself, proving that she was correlating what was on the page to what was on the keyboard. I also placed the coordinating colors from the keyboard onto the notes on the page, leaving some for her to place and she was able to put them in the right place. I explained that we only had to do one line because it repeats the exact same notes on the second line. Sticker happy as she is, she agreed even though I am sure she would have been happy to put the rest of the stickers on the page.

She can now play Old MacDonald!

I feel like the color coordination made it easier for her to pick up and fun at the same time! We picked out a few more songs from the same book that she wants to learn and now we are on our way to more music in the house that are actual songs! Not that I don't love the little songs she makes up all the time, my favorite being "I love Mommy". I hope she keeps that up as time goes by. 

She is quite proud to already know a song from her first piano lesson and plays it quite often making sure that anyone in earshot is listening of course!  She loves to put on a show - I'll have to record her playing it once she really has it down and post it so you too can be lucky enough to have it stuck in your head!


Have yourself a great weekend!


Kathy said...

I love this post! What a great piece. I found myself smiling all through my reading of your adorable daughter and her new journey with music! Thanks. You are quickly becomming one of my favorite blogs to read.

Photina said...

What a great idea! I love this. My 3 year old wants to play piano and I think this would be a great way for her to learn. I love having music in our house. :-)

CoffeeLovinMom said...

Thanks Kathy!
This would work great with a 3 yr old, let me know how it works!

Anne said...

Do they have this method for guitar playing? I'm taking classes and it is so hard! I'm still trying to master Old McDonald had a farm! LOL

Sergio Oyola said...

So glad to know you're using the color-music approach. Just now I want to try it on my guitar, before that I used it on my pc keyboard to practice with an online piano. It feels great.