Likely you’ve heard your educator refer to the 7-year Kindermusik experience during class. We know many of you are just getting adjusted to life with a baby or toddler so we aren’t trying to disguise “marketing” a 7-year commitment. But as you probably have gathered, everything we do in Kindermusik is very purposeful—very age-appropriate, well researched, and sequential.
In fact, you may not realize that the “original” Kindermusik curriculum was our class for big kids, 5-7 years old. The curricula were extended downward so everything your child is doing as a little one in class just leads to a fuller and fuller experience, culminating in our Young Child classes and leading perfectly to studying an instrument such as piano, guitar, or violin.
I was reminded of the magic of this sequence at our recent recital. It’s always a joy to see so many former Kindermusik “babes” all grown up. All the children shine, but my personal favorites each year are the children who are true Kindermusik graduates—started as newborns and finished the Young Child curriculum.
This year, we had 2 superstar graduates—twins, Matt and Kiera. They started in my Village classes as babies years ago and never stopped until they completed Young Child this past spring. At that point, they graduated to piano lessons and after just three months of lessons, you should have heard them. Wow wow wow!
The 7-year sequential benefit of Kindermusik couldn’t have been more plainly shown. What happens with these children is that they have a built in sense of all-things musical—rhythm, melody, movement, listening—and then we put it all together and send them off into instrument lessons with true ease. Each year, we watch these graduates seamlessly transition from the Kindermusik glockenspiel (like a xylophone) to the piano with nary a care. They just get it.
(I can tell you that in my 15+ years of teaching, children who do not complete the Kindermusik sequence never just “get it”. It takes a bit more effort. Sure, they can do it, but the Kindermusik kids rise head and shoulders over their peers almost instantly.)
We often get questions about starting private lessons for children younger than 7 and children who have not completed the 7-year Kindermusik continuum. Here’s what happens in that 5-7 year old class (courtesy of my Greenville, SC colleague, Theresa Case):
At about the age of five, many children are ready for first experiences with a melodic instrument. Eye-hand coordination is improving, melodic memory is stronger, and the child has a keen interest in re-creating the melodies he or she sings and hears. Because of its size and delightful sound quality, the glockenspiel is an ideal first melodic instrument for young children and will be used throughout all four semesters of the program. However, the child’s success with this instrument is very much dependent upon careful preparation, a highly sequential approach to its use, and encouraging reinforcement at home.
In Semester 1 of the Young Child curriculum, long before the glockenspiels go home with the children, there are many experiences that nurture a level of beat competency and basic melodic memory that help to ensure success for each child at the glockenspiel. Of utmost importance in this process is the notion that children play from musical memory rather than by simultaneous reading and playing. This is not to say that children do not learn to read musical notation. On the contrary, children learn to read notation vocally and to commit to memory what they have read and heard many times. From this musical memory, the child approaches the glockenspiel with patterns so familiar that full concentration can be placed on the actual manipulation of the instrument.
Of course, learning to read and play simultaneously is a skill all musicians need to develop. However, very few children at this stage of development are ready for this highly integrated skill. This skill will develop naturally in most children as the processes of sensory integration are refined, but this rarely happens before the age of seven or eight.
So we encourage you to stick with us and see the fruits of your Kindermusik investment really pay off when your child is ready and eager to learn an instrument. We promise you won’t regret it.
This post brought to you by Miss Lisa–it just never gets old seeing children grow with music.