Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music Lessons

I've mentioned many times that Xander LOVES music. He loves to dance, he loves listening to music, he loves banging on his drum, etc. I have tried hard to expose him to a variety of types of music. He also has had exposure through Trebellina and Your Baby Can Discover. However, a few weeks ago I decided it was past time to start a more organized music curriculum with him.

I suppose I should first start with the background on the idea of teaching music to babies.  Babies and young children (generally five and under), have the remarkable ability to distinguish all of the various sounds of every language.  Adults and older children, on the other hand, can only distinguish the sounds of their native language (languages).  It kind of follows the "use it or lose it" theory of brain development.  Why waste brain space being able to distinguish sounds you never hear?  Well since babies have this ability, they can also distinguish the various sounds of the notes, meaning they can be taught perfect pitch.  Since the baby can already hear the differences between the notes, they aren't really being taught anything new.  Instead, they are being given a name for those sounds.  By using the name for the sound and practice, the child should be able to retain the ability to distinguish the notes.

I not only hope to teach Xander perfect pitch, but to read music as well.  For our lessons I dug out the music note flash cards I ordered months ago with our Trebellina disc.  I know there are free printable flashcards elsewhere on the net as well.  I show him the front of the card with the music note on the staff, tell him what note it is, and play the note on the piano.  Then I flip the card over where it has the corresponding letter for the note and play it again on the piano.  I am fortunate enough to have an electric piano, so we go through all of the notes in the treble clef twice, once on the grand piano setting, and ones on one of the other settings.  I want him to understand that a C is a C whether it is from a piano, strings, bells, etc.

Xander absolutely loves the lessons.  The first few days he would literally shake with excitement, although luckily that has stopped.  He sits very still and quiet, watching and listening.  When we are all done I encourage him to bang around on the keys, experimenting for himself.  While he enjoys playing the piano, he seems to like me going through the notes with him better, go figure.  I would love to get him some hand bells if  I can be sure they are accurate.  A glockenspiel might also be fun and offer variety.

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