Of all the things that could keep me awake at night in my mid-thirties, I never expected a kids’ song called Red Is For Apples to be one of them.
But so it was one weekday night when, sitting at my sons’ new electric keyboard in our living room, I forced myself to stay awake until I had perfected the playing of that infuriating little tune. Newsnight came on and went. My husband sloped up to bed. I looked up briefly to watch a neighbour walk up our road with a torch, calling for her dog, and still I ploughed on. I went to bed in a foul mood, after fluffing the simple notes too many times.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分The keyboard was a Christmas present from my mother-in-law to my sons, aged four and two. When I woke the day after my late-night session to find I could play the ditty perfectly with both hands, it felt like my very own Christmas present too.
I’m not a piano player—let alone a piano teacher— so, on finding that no local tutor would take on children so young, I spent the New Year researching learning methods for under-fives and happened upon the . It’s a preschool-friendly system which does away with normal sheet music, replacing notes with colours in the order of the rainbow. The songs, the first of which is the tuneless but finger-exercising What’s Your Favourite Ice Cream? are noted down in the book in rectangles of block colour which correspond with little coloured stickers you place on the keys. Each time you practise, you can also place matching stickers on your relevant fingers. I say “your”, but really the scheme is meant for children. Sadly, once I’d set up the book and the stickers in order to start teaching my children, I couldn’t resist getting stuck in myself, and the lessons never formally started.
I have terrible memories of piano lessons when I was little. My parents tried to encourage me to learn but, for a Barbie-loving telly-addict, 30 minutes spent in a room alone with a strange man was not my idea of fun. I thought up increasingly far-fetched stunts to dodge the lessons, from pretending to be ill to hiding the music book, and my parents, fed up with wasting their money, soon got the message and switched the TV back on instead.
Andrew Ingkavet, a film score composer, devised the Musicolor method when his three-year-old wanted to learn the piano but, like me, he couldn’t find anyone to teach someone so young. He had also studied music education, and used the theory of scaffolding —using temporary learning structures to support a pupil’s needs—to inspire this method. Traditional music scholars may sniff at the colourful notation (if a child wants to pursue the piano they will eventually have to learn how to read music) but Ingkavet’s theory is that little ones are more likely to fall in love with the piano if, instead of being bogged down by note names and musical symbols, they can start playing something resembling a tune the moment their hands hit the keys. He says this speedy delivery of success is also useful for pupils with special needs.
And though he doesn’t say it, it can help competitive parents like me, too.
As I’ve made my way through the first level book, learning a passable Let’s Jump Into The Pool And Play and Bingo Bongo Boom, my kids have naturally started to show an interest too. Have I shamelessly hijacked my kids’ toy? Perhaps. But I call it teaching by example.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分They watch Paw Patrol inches away from me as I punch away at the keys, headphones on and singing quietly. I don’t cajole them into learning but, when they show an interest, I back off and let them play. I’ve sent Granny a film of the two-year-old bashing away randomly, but singing a very recognizable Birthday Cake. The four-year-old can play two out of the 10 songs with one hand.
There are little built-in rewards in the book, such as a themed picture with each song that the child can colour in once they've learnt the piece. At the end of the book there's a certificate of achievement, which you can cut out and frame before moving on to the next level.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分My kids will have to race me to get their names on it.
Andrew Ingkavet’s top tips for teaching a child piano
Schedule a routine for piano practice and stick to it so it becomes a habit rather than a hassle.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分It is better for children to practise little and often: 5-10 minutes every day is more than enough to start with.
Some parents make the mistake of putting the instrument in a far-off corner or playroom. This is almost certain to fail because children long to be around their family. Put the piano/keyboard in the living area, you will be amazed at how much more they want to play.
2020欧洲杯足球即时比分Kids seek your approval: praise their effort no matter how many times you’ve heard the same piece. The more you take an interest, the more they will be encouraged. Try and find a specific thing to praise, such as their effort or singing rather than just “good job!”