Music lessons.

Music is fun. Learning to read music takes repetition and practice. That's one thing we work on three times a week. I alternate it with literature.

Music is fun. Learning to read music takes repetition and practice. That’s one thing we work on three times a week. I alternate it with literature.

We practice piano every day in our house. Currently, we are using the Faber and Faber Primer series. It’s a good series – when I teach beginners this is the series we start with. The only problem is that there’s not enough repetition in the note reading.

For a child, reading the music is going to be the hardest part – besides getting their fingers to work. Once they can read music fluently, the fingers seem to become easier – maybe it’s just because they don’t have to work so hard at reading music, so they focus on playing the music.

So I needed some more lessons for my kids to read music – to practice reading the notes and knowing what they are.

Here’s what we are doing this week:

Basic note reading:

C-D treble clef (Unit 1)

C-D-E treble clef (Unit 2)

Whole notes, half notes ( drawing them on the staff paper).

 

 

Easy music lessons.

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Do you need an easy way to teach music to your children?

We learned the difference between half notes and quarter notes with an easy activity.

I drew a page full of half notes and quarter notes. He had to circle the quarter notes. Then I had him color in the half notes to make them quarter notes.

It was a fun and easy way to teach the difference between what they look like.

Free app: Classical Kids Education

So you want your child to learn about music? Here’s a new and wonderful app – Classical Kids Education (the link is below). It’s free today, so get it and try it out.

It has quizzes, a recorder, and stories to go with the various songs. It also has a metronome to help kids learn how to stay on a beat. It is really a neat app. I hope you go try it!

Here’s the link to the app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/classical-kids-student-edition/id528086872?mt=8

Feelings and “G”

So this year we are in a new preschool group. It’s nice because it is all boys – and boys tend to be more active than girls. With this group we are more academically focused than the last group. It’s my turn to teach, and I have the topic of “feelings” and the letter”g” for Tuesday’s lesson.

I started where I always start – I Googled “preschool lesson plans feelings.” No reason to reinvent the wheel, and a lot of times there are great ideas out there that I can incorporate into my own lesson.

I found this great site – http://www.toolsforeducators.com/feelings.php – that let me create worksheets based on feelings. I made a worksheet where they match faces to the words, one where I picked 5 words (happy, sad, sleepy, mad, dizzy) that they get to trace and print, and a picture dictionary they get to make. This site – http://downloads.cas.psu.edu/4H/Feelings.pdf – had a great full lesson plan to follow and I took some of their ideas too.

So here’s my  lesson plan:

1. Circle time: We do the traditional songs/weather and things we do.

2. The feeling-faces game: I made cards with the following feelings on them – sad, happy, crying, upset, tired, sleepy, dizzy, hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, silly. I’ll lay them out and have the kids flip one over and everyone can make a face/action that goes with the word. We will do this until they get tired of making faces.

3. Feelings worksheet: We will do the feelings worksheets I have printed out.

4. Music: Here’s our music time list – “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home,” “5 Little Monkeys,” “Hokey Pokey,” “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” Notice that they are all active songs. I even have little shakers that they get to use to pick how fast we sing the songs.

5. “G” worksheets: Did I mention I love Starfall (www.starfall.com)? I printed off their “G” worksheets and some writing paper with the letter G on it and we will do that.

6. Beginning Scrabble – I made a set of index cards with the following letters on them (B, H, 2 E’s, 3 O’s, D, S, N). I’ll call out a word and they get to use their cards to spell it. The words are: be, he, do, so, and no. They are 5 short and easy sight words from the Kindergarten list.

7. My feelings today: I took a paper plate and wrote, “Today I feel…” on the outside. They are going to color the plate with their face and how they feel today.

Hopefully that gets me through the 2 hours. If not, I’ll have to figure out something more. But 7 activities will generally take 2 hours (about 15 minutes each with 15 minutes for leeway). If it runs short we will find things that make us happy, play “Red Light Green Light,” and then, if it is sunny, tag is always a favorite.

There’s the lesson!

Piano lessons.

People think I’m crazy for doing piano lessons with a 3 year old. But I know I started early – as soon as I could hit a key with one finger. My mother has pictures of me sitting on her lap playing when I was little. I want that same early introduction to music, especially piano playing, for my children.

These aren’t formal piano lessons. In no way do we have a book to work from. Instead, we sit side by side at the piano and hit the keys. We name the keys as we hit them. He is beginning to see the pattern in the keys. He can pick out all the C’s in all the octaves because they have a “white key on one side and a black key on the other.” He knows the black keys are called flats and sharps. We play simple songs, like “Mary had a Little Lamb,” “Down by the Station,” and “ABC,” and sing along. I put my hand over his and play. We also do scales, reciting the notes as we try and match our voices to the notes. This is our lesson.

I did try working on the concept of reading music, but he’s having a hard time differentiating that a note has a letter name just like a letter has a letter name. So instead we work on keeping the same tempo and what a staff looks like. These are early musical concepts that he needs to learn in order for him to have any musical ability, and the earlier he learns them the better.

One day soon, maybe when he is 4, we will get a real book and do real piano lessons. He has no problem with me being his teacher for things; he claims that it is mommy and me time. Today, when he woke up, he said “Mommy and me time at the piano please.” This means he is enjoying it and having fun. If he is enjoying it and having fun, then I am teaching him correctly.

An added bonus is that sometimes, when I am busy feeding the baby or cleaning something, he runs to the piano and picks out notes, one by one. Sometimes he plays scales on his own, reciting the notes. And after breakfast, I even heard my three year old play “Mary has a Little Lamb” on the piano – by himself and pretty correctly. What a sweet sound.

For more on the benefits of learning to play the piano as a child, click on the following links:

How Piano Lessons Benefit Young Children

12 Benefits of Music Education

Benefits of Your Child Taking Piano Lessons

The Psychological Benefits of Piano Playing for Children

Easy ways to incorporate music into your day.

Music time

Teaching music to toddlers can be simple and fun

Music time happens every day at our house. It is not a formal thing, but music is a part of our life and a part of our day. Whether you have older children who play instruments or sing and need to practice every day, or if you have infants and toddlers and just want music to be a part of their life, it is easy to include it.

Our daily music time lessons always include singing. I make sure we sing in the car. Car rides are a great time to expose children to all kinds of music – they are a captive audience. Everything from classical to 80s rock gets played in our car. I will intersperse one song I like with a bunch of the children’s songs. However you choose to do it, singing in the car is a great way to instill some love of music in your toddler.

At home we leave the TV off (when it is off) and we listen to music – a large variety. We dance to the music, making sure to jump on the beats. This is teaching music, expression, and whether the beat is in the music. Learning where the beat is in a song is something everyone can benefit from regardless of whether they will sing, play an instrument, or simply be enjoyers of music.

We don’t have sit-down music lessons. We simply do a bunch of music all day long. Sometimes, we even go to the piano and practice playing with our fingers, one at a time. Then we also sing the names of the notes of the piano keys.

Toddlers learn a lot through absorption, even when you don’t think they are learning. So however you incorporate music into your daily life, know that they children are learning as you sing, dance, and play music.

Easy ways to include music:

1. Sing in the car.

2. Dance to music at home instead of having the TV on.

3. Make tambourines or shakers out of paper plates and toilet paper rolls, then shake them and dance (or shake them to the beat of a favorite song).

4. Make up a song about “cleaning up” and sing it every time you clean up.

5. Sing a special “potty time” song when your child is on the potty.

6. Play freeze dance as a game.

7. Give your child access to a piano and let them play – hands only (toddlers might want to play with their feet or elbows or head).

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