by Janice L. Morris
Here at the music Place, we work with teachers of all ranges of skills in both education and performance. We require a degree and /or ten years of technical study or experience in preparation to teach.
We are also teacher training school; that is, we train teachers as young as high school age, and supplementally educate even those teachers who have advanced degrees. In that educational process, and in each teacher's' initial technical interview and training, we are able to identify the leaning phases in which each teacher is most comfortable to teach. Since no one teacher is apt to teach all three phases of learning, children in our system can move easily through the developmental process with any teacher changes that become necessary.
The evaluator, teacher, parents and director work as a team to care for the ongoing fine arts needs of the child. Re-evaluation is often in order as children move gradually from one phase of learning to another.
To summarize point "A", please keep in mind that our primary goal is NOT high achievement, but rather inspiration. Wonderfully, however, we have not found it necessary to sacrifice academic progress for fun. We have many kids in class as young as 2 and 3 years old who are learning how to tread music in an age appropriate manner, who have no idea just how much they have learned, because they are having so much fun!
The key then, is to identify HOW children learn in the various developmental stages of life, who they are unique individuals, and teach them according to their own learning styles and preferences. For example, an unusually gifted auditory (ear oriented) learner would rarely be successful in a traditional educational setting because traditional education tends to be so visual (eye-oriented) in its approach. The child will usually quit the learning process before his or her gifts and talents have even been discovered, much less inspired.
At The Music Place, because we are an educational institution as opposed to a store renting teacher studios, we work very hard to develop curriculums, train teachers, and stay abreast of the innovative research that will ensure a much more positive experience than is available in a "choose -the- opening-you-want" type of a setting.
B. Teach According to Natural Development
The second bit of general information that we feel we must share is the incredible importance of teaching children in a manner that is sensitive to the various developmental stages of their lives.
For example, children in the first 5 years of their lives are extremely language developmental. By two years of age most children are beginning to put words together in sentences and can easily learn not only their native language, but also number of other languages to which they are regularly exposed. They do this easily and with incredible speed, often in a matter of months.
Since music is a language, and the ability to copy sounds and retain auditory information is so acute during these first five years, it just makes sense that a child should be exposed to music, and actually learn "the musical language" before they ever enter elementary school .
This is best accomplished at home by simply singing with children, noting the sounds they can use to sing with and adapting your voice to fit their singing range, It is also helpful to sing as close to their faces as they will let you get...thus increasing their ability to feel the actual vibration s of sound that are produced from your voice. There is not sound in the universe to which children are more readily responsive than the sound of a parent's voice because children have heard them even during their journey in the womb.
If you sing with children in these years, they will develop the ability to hear, remember, and operate the sounds of music. Later on, after the language developmental phase defers to other types of learning (visual for example), children begin to lose this acute ability to copy sounds and finally enter puberty with very little ability to clearly mimic new sounds. This is why adults have difficulty recreating language sounds to which they have never been exposed, when the actual structure of the language might be simple to learn.
I believe that young children are even able to create a type of index of sound that they are not yet even able to produce, from which they an later draw to sing and understand music as a language.
Recent studies have verified what music educators have noticed for years:
- The brain creates little neuron transmission pathways to allow the easy recurrence of every process that is to become a learned ability, and
- There are certain developmental windows during which those pathways can be built.
We know, for example, that it is nearly impossible for an adult to learn a second language to which they have never been exposed, unless they have operated those sounds as a very young child--during the language developmental phase of their lives. The same principles hold true for the visual , fine motor, large motor, sequencing, patterning and all other types of development occurring in a child's life.
Another example comes from some research that was done on animals where an cat with two healthy eyes had one eyelid stitched closed. After a operand of time, during which the open eye was developing neuron pathways, the closes, unused eye did not develop. Upon reopening the eyelid, the cat was blind in the previously healthy eye.
The challenge therefore, is to ":get on the boat" while you can. Learning young simply makes learning easier later...if the learning is done in an with the proper education approach.
We therefore encourage every parent to sing with their children regardless of how many classes in which your child may be participating, an regardless of the singing voice of the parent. Remember, the issue is mimicking musical, not learning the exact pitches of particular songs. In addition, it is extremely important for even the most insecure of parent singers to communicate enthusiasm about singing to a young child...particularly a boy. This will be crucial as the child enter the 6th or 7th year where they become very sensitive to what others s of the same sex think about what they are doing. Kids who have had an enthusiastic encouragement of song and the arts will move easily through the first phase of peer pressure. They will also be undaunted by what they are now able to notice about how they sound as compared to other children.
It is basically now or never.
Teach According to Each Child's Unique Needs and Personality
Although not possible in an external school setting, we give parents of choice of convenience in schedule and geography or a the best teacher match possible.
Last Modified: 2005.07.02T21:59:10
Actual Customer Testimonials:
"We have recommended to many of our friends. We love the place. It has totally helped our daughter to not only know the notes but to truly have fun with them! We love the teacher(s) and wish them all the very best. - " -- Happy parents
"Our daughter, Melissa, loves her music class, and she looks forward to the recitals. She's made friends and become more confident. We'd recommend the Music Place to anyone. -- Melissa's parents, Kathy & Matt, Los Gatos" .
I tell everyone who will listen about the amazing introduction to music that our daughter is getting with the Music Place. People are always amazed when a 3-year old explains that she played an oboe last week and is going to play a piccolo next week! Most importantly, our daughter can't wait for music class & asks to go every day. -- The Pace Family