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Gentle Beginnings - a Lifetime of Rewards

My studio welcomes both young children and the young at heart, beginning or advanced levels. Instruction is based on a combination of methods that support each other: The Suzuki philosophy of learning skills one step at a time, reinforcing the skills by constant review of old pieces, focus on technique, focus on becoming comfortable at the piano before reading music, and ear-training is used with all students.

All piano students also receive lessons based on Edwin Gordon's Music Learning Theory. (Sound before sight before theory.) A baby learns its own language by listening first, then speaking before leaning to read it and understand it. All children who learn to run have learned to stand and walk first. Standing-before-walking-before-running is a universal skill-learning sequence. This piano studio acquaints children with the language of music before asking them to understand it. Sound-before-sight is just a first step in learning to understand music. Once children develop their aural and performance skills sufficiently, and once they learn to read music, their reading and listening skills will reinforce each other.

The Suzuki piano literature which includes many folk songs, the Shaak Piano Partner series and Music Moves for Children in combination are used with most beginning students until the age of 9 or 10. The literature for older students is adapted to each individual student with a focus on learning chords(or harmony) so they will be able to accompany melodies that they hear and want to learn to play.

All students are taught improvisation and composition skills. A reading curriculum is incorporated into the weekly lessons, as soon as each student is ready for that step. Pre-reading steps include classes where students move, sing, chant rhythm and tonal patterns before seeing them. When students are able to repeat rhythm and tonal patterns accurately, they are then taught rhythm and tonal solfege to label these patterns. When students identify the patterns through solfege accurately, they are then shown the written symbols that go with the sound. They begin to identify the patterns, link them together and are then able to become fluent readers.