At the Fun Music Company we are in communication with music teachers from all over the world. These ideas came from a music teacher named Kalliopi Charitaki. It is great to see that music teaching is truly an international language – and that we can all take some small ideas from her work.
Since 2003 I am giving music lessons to very young children age 3-5. They really enjoyed all the songs and dancing, the instrument exploration and the games we played. But as a music teacher I wanted to experiment on music theory information, without though to miss the fun. Rewarding children’s efforts is very important as you also say, as they get a positive attitude towards learning. You have also mentioned that usually theory classes become boring or one more lesson that children have to do, not want to do.
On my first lesson every year I introduce to children myself, my puppet, and Mr Sleepy (crotchet rest). He becomes alive, he is my puppet’s friend and they both observe the lesson. If Mr. Sleepy decides to join in, the children have to do “sh” and be quiet. So they learn discipline and theory at the same time. From day one children also introduced to a board: “our friend’s today”. It is a big stave with coloured dots on the notes from middle C to B. As children introduce themselves they are given a coloured card to write their name or colour something they want. That will be their name card for the year and they will have to put it on the stave board at every lesson they come. So for example Rafaela coloured something on a purple paper and then she has to match it with the purple dot on the stave boar, which is the place for B note. Actually every note matches with a colour . I have borrowed the colours from Thompson’s easy piano book, so when eventually children will start piano they already now the colours and it will be easier for them.
Back to the stave board. After a few lessons where the children feel comfortable placing their names on the colour dots, remove the dots so see if the children can remember where was the position of their name card. You can play lots of different games and you will be impressed seeing that some children remember who comes before and who comes after.
After you have practiced that stage for a few lessons the rewards are starting. Every child get a reward for something good they did. So for example this week Rafaela sang very nice that is why she has earned a note: it is B note ( or Si) and from now own B is here own note. When she comes at the lessons now she can put her note on the stave instead of her name card. By the end of the year “Our friend’s today ” board is full of coloured notes that you can use for a number of different games. This method i have used with 3-5 years old children. If the children are 5-6 slowly you can start removing the colours and add black notes and again it works as a reward and a game. Sometimes my puppet for example will send the children a letter where all the notes are coloured and one is black, and children have to find which one it is.
Thanks to Kalliopi for sending through her ideas on teaching young preschool music students. It is an inspiration to me to hear stories like this from all around the world. If you wish to send your teaching ideas to us we’d be more than happy to post and share them on the music teachers blog.