February 19, 2007

The Color of Music

sound_of_music_lp.jpgI never knew that Do-Re-Mi, etc. is called solfege, and that the syllables associated with each note are credited to the same guy as modern musical notation itself, a 10th-century monk known as Guido of Arezzo. All this time, I just assumed it was Oscar of Hammerstein.

And though the whole Suzuki violin thing vaguely creeps me out, I don't know much about teaching 2-3 year-olds how to play the piano, either. But that's just what the Little Music School program is doing at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts in Massachusetts.

Where more traditional, holistic programs like, say, Kindermusik [which has advertised on Daddy Types, btw], focus on integrated play with sound, rhythm, rhyme, and various instruments, Little Music uses solfege and color coding--including games, stickers, and nail polish--to teach kids how to recognize notes on a piano. Apparently the kids move right along, and are able to play simple songs at 3 and 4, and kick butt in regular piano lessons at age 5.

This Boston Globe article mentions just in passing that in Austria, when Little Music was launched, "parents, many professional musicians themselves, signed their kids up in droves."

Even as the kid's never-ending fascination with singing and the piano me feel like we've been starving part of her two-year-old soul by not signing her up for any music classes yet, I have to confess, this still makes me nervous. And hearing that a bunch of Captain von Trapps who spent every waking hour of their own childhoods at a piano love it, too, doesn't really help.

Any thoughts? Experiences? Are my militant musical fears misplaced?

Kiddies on the Keys
[boston.com via dt reader sara]
Solfege [wikipedia]

1 Comment

The earlier the better. As the director of a community children's choir, I know from my own experience that Suzuki violin (offered free, from Kindergarten on in the public school of my yout') is what helped "set" my ear.

Musical geniuses didn't become so without having musical instruments in the house (pushy parents notwithstanding). Skip the pushy parent side of the equation, and let the kid enjoy as much music as she wants.

I remember a colored cardboard thing that went along the piano keys, sort of like the old Word Perfect keyboard guides. It had colors that corresponded to a colored music book. You learn the colors, and then by association the notes on the staff.

We did Kindermusic with all 3 kids. It was nice, but to me, with a pretty heavy musical upbringing, it was really nothing more than a play date with a soundtrack and a disco ball.

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