Friday, July 24, 2009

Music Class for Toddlers #2 (Below 5)

For kids who are below the age of 5 years old, these are some of the activities that can be introduced:-

Between 1 to 3, kids respond best to music when they actively experience it. Passive listening (like in the car) is fine, but look for opportunities to get your child rocking, marching, rolling, tapping, clapping, and moving to the beat.

At this age, give your toddler a pot and a wooden spoon and sing a song or play some music that has a steady tempo. Invite your toddler to bang out a rhythm, and then imitating what he or she does. Extend the game by tapping a slightly more complicated rhythm and inviting your child to follow or by asking your child to tap on different surfaces and seeing what sound these different taps make.

If you'd like to introduce an instrument, keep it simple. Very young toddlers will enjoy instruments they can shake like bells, rattles, shakers, tambourines, or rain sticks. As your child gets older and a little more coordinated, try rhythm instruments that can be banged, like drums, cymbals, or xylophones.

Some 2 to 3 year olds can use simple wind instruments, like a recorder, a pipe whistle, or a kazoo. Many companies now make musical instruments that are appropriately sized and shaped for little hands and that are safe for toddlers. Check the label when you buy them.

Kids' music CDs are great, but don't forget to share your own favorite music with your kids. Folk music and music from other cultures also can be good choices for kids. When you try new music, ask if your child likes it and discuss your opinion as well. Expose your child to various forms of music.

There are live performances suitable for kids. Museums, libraries, and bookstores often host child-friendly events. Outdoor concerts where kids can run around without disturbing anyone are also a good choices!

And some other very interesting ideas:-

Music Class for Toddlers #1

As my niece and nephew are 2+ years old now, and my sisters had always hoped that I can give some simple music lessons for them, and maybe for them to see if they will like to pursue music when they are older. And also, since my little girl will also be arriving soon. I thought would be a good idea to do some research on how to actually introduce music to toddlers.

Based on the advise given by most people, the best time for a child to start formal music lessons is 5 years old. And anything before that is actually play!

For 5 years old and above:-

When I went for my piano class, I notice that my teacher has lots of games, flashcards and magnetic board (very cute stuff) which is used to teach very young children. I found those games and toys very interesting. And can see that she puts in a lot of effort in planning for the lessons.

What I know from my friends when they learnt piano when they were young, there wasn't those fancy games and colourful cards, but instead, they were using those black and white scores, with BIG letterings. Nowadays, the manufacturers really know how to make money.

Something I found online (Piano for Little Kids 5 years old & above - as a start):

Level 1:
1. Right hand only includes the following content:
a. Location of keys
b. Middle C position.
c. Recognition of quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes.
d. Location of Middle C, D, E, F, and G (Learned by letter)
e. Playing Middle C, D, E, F, and G
f. Counting correct rhythm while playing.

2. Left hand and hands together includes the following content:
a. Playing C chord
b. Playing G7 chord (simplified version of G7 chord)
c. Applying both chords to songs.
d. Playing songs with both hands simultaneously.

Level 2:
This level continues to build on reading real notes, incrementally replacing all previous play by letters with real note recognition.

Level 3:
At this level, your child will be reading simple sheet music, applying rhythm and have a very solid understanding of how to read music. Basic music reading skills are used in easy songs with fun lyrics.

At the end of these lessons, your child will be playing simple songs with both hands, using two different chords, knowing how to apply rhythm, not looking at hands, and have a very strong foundation to continue to reading music.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My 2009 Musical Resolution (Revised)

Previously, I have posted about my 2009 Musical Resolution in my prior post and revised it once:-

But now, I need to revise it again, because a little girl (tentatively named 陈思晴) will be coming my way in November, and because of that my piano teacher advise me not to take the Grade 2 theory exams this end October. Haha, she didn't want me to make a scene in the examination hall just in case it is due then.

And because of 思晴, I will need to stop my piano lessons in November and probably December as well. And after I have gotten used to the new additonal to my family, able to manage my time again, hope that I can continue to learn piano.

But just thinking, by 2010, when I return back to work and I need to pick up 思晴 from my in-laws place everyday after work, and of coz play with her, feed her, I might be too busy to practice piano again. Let's see how. Meanwhile, learn as much as I can! Hope that I can continue my hobby, and maybe take both my Grade 2 practical exams and theory paper in 2010.

I am very excited that 思晴 will be coming out soon - 4 months to go! Haha, now, I play piano everyday for her to listen, not that she has a choice! Haha! She kicks a lot, so I suppose she is enjoying the music. Or she is trying to tell mummy to stop playing, it is sooo noisy! Haha!

Don't know if she will pick up piano or not. But definitely, I will introduce it to her...

Some "Artistic" Shots of my Hailun by my Hubby...

My hubby recently bought a new camera, Sony HX1, so trying to do some artistic shooting for my piano. It is more like testing his camera! Haha! Enjoy the pictures!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Contemporary Period (1900 to present)

Contemporary Period is the fifth period of music (European) which I am exposed to, where repertoires in this period are composed from 1900 to present. It refers to the modern forms of art music. For a more detailed historical background of repertoire created during this period can be found here:

Bela Bartok is one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was born in 1881 in Hungary, and died in 1945. He began studying piano with his mother when he was five years old. The family settled in Pressburg where Bartok met Ernst von Dohnanyi who became a good friend and advisor. He also became good friends with Zoltan Kodaly, with whom he later researched Hungarian folk music. In 1909, Bartok married Marta Ziegler. His six volumes of piano pieces called Mikrokosmos were written for his son, Peter. He used many folk tunes in his compositions.

To play music of this period, we need to take note of the following:-

1. The melody is based have unpredictable or irregular phrase lengths. Shape is often jagged using very narrow or very wide intervals, often based on non-traditional scales.

2. Greater usage of irregular meters. Chords are made up of 4ths, 5ths or clusters of three or more adjacent notes to create a dissonant sound. Tempo changes are common.

3. The full range of the instrument is utilized, from ppp to fff (a wide dynamic spectrum).

4. Need to plan fingering carefully to play the less familiar patterns and hand shape must adjust to narrow or wide intervals and unusual chord shapes.

5. Titles tell a story, pieces express a wide range of emotions, sounds reflect the character.

6. Often use of unconventional pianistic movements such as playing with the palm or forearm, or tapping the wood of the piano. Big physical gestures and motions needed to accomodate extreme registers of the piano.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yeah! Invited to a Piano Party...

Made a couple of friends in the Piano Forum, and I feel so happy to be part of the invitation list to their 2nd Piano Party coming September! Will share more about it then.

They had their 1st Piano Party sometime in February this year, but as I wasn't that close to the host then, I was not in the invite list. Was pretty sad though, but haha, not as if I am professional, so even if I go, I am very unlikely to touch the host's ivory keys. So nothing to be sad about.

But really looking forward to the September Piano Party. And a chance to meet a lot of powerful pianists showing off their skills!

The host bought a Sauter Omega 220 (Grand Piano) sometime in 2007 and was only delivered to his house on the 8 August 2008. 080808 (huat ah!) Though I don't know how much the piano costs, but I would think it is at least 100K SGD. I think he managed to request the kind of piano design in terms of the wood, the colour, and even how to make the piano sound the way he wants it. So effectively, it is a tailor-made Grand Piano. And for all that, he had to wait 11 months from the time when he ordered to the time the piano finally reached his house!

Though the wait was long, but can see that he is very happy with it. He used to own a Kawai K-8 upright piano before he bought this Grand Piano. Haha, guess his taste has already moved up. But come to think of it, to appreciate and learn pianos is really very expensive. Is good that he is a working adult and able to afford this kind of luxury, but imagine if in future, my kids have the talent and needed pianos of this standard before they start working, I would have gone bankrupt first. Haha! So, haha, it might be a good idea for my kids to be exposed to music, but don't be too professional into it.

The host bought the piano from Raffles Piano, from a person named Alvin. Based on the forum threads which I read about this guy, he seems to be someone who is very highly trained and provide very good service and advise to his customer. But I guess, of coz, it comes with a price too. Haha, not economical for me to engage him to help me with the tuning of my Hailun piano right? Anyway, great to read and hear from people from the other side of the "bell curve".

The host was very generous, had invited us to his house for a buffet lunch (Peranakan food) and when I asked for this account number so that I can transfer him the money, he doesn't want it. So, I am thinking hard, how I can help to "pay" for the lunch, unlikely that they will enjoy whatever that I am going to play on the piano, given my limited skills. Haha, maybe I will volunteer my hubby to be the camera man, since he loves taking photos so much. But there again, it depends on if the host already have professional camera man to help with the photo taking. Coz my hubby is only using Sony HX1, not the professional type (DSLR) where you can change lens one. Haha, so anyway, we will bring the camera and see if we can "pay" for the lunch through this =P Else, we will most probably be just 2 parasites, sitting there and enjoying the party =)