Originally posted by Lisa Kalmar:
Would y'all care to share some DETAILS with us unlucky ones?
Regarding Lisa's plea:
Here are some of my notes from the Faber Workshop, with my own commentary sprinkled throughout.
Randall opened by discussing characteristics of 5 year olds, and used 3 words that help to remind us how to motivate this age group:
Foray --> Feedback --> Fun --> Foray --> Feedback --> Fun
In other words, when children are allowed to explore and discover, then get positive feedback on it (descriptive feedback, not just “good job!” ad nauseum), it becomes an enjoyable activity which motivates them to explore some more.
The rest refers to MY FIRST PIANO ADVENTURES.
p.4 ~ Use this page as a way to build a rapport with the child. Find aspects of each friend that the child may identify with, such as Carlos’ baseball interest or Katie’s painting interest. Remember that “play” is never about one person being in control. Empower children by allowing them to play teacher sometimes, and take the time to become familiar with these friends, as they are important companions throughout the series.
p.5 ~ Use this at MANY consecutive lessons; avoid the compulsive “we did it once so now let’s move on” syndrome. Aside from the need to get familiar with all of the friend’s names, we need to use repetition effectively as educators. I truly think this is an art form in teaching, finding ways to expand on a concept during subsequent repetitions, monitoring the child’s responses and offering JUST ENOUGH challenge to make the repetitions exciting and never dull. An example here is to tap on lap the first week (lap-lap-lap-lap), tap on lap every 2 beats the next week (lap-clap-lap-clap), tap every 4 the next (lap-clap-clap-clap), etc.
p.15 ~ Playdoh is fun to use in building firm tips.
p.17 ~ Think if the white keys as the MILK you dip the donuts in (neat, huh?).
p.18-19 ~ Developing visual tracking is very important for this age group, and needs to be nurtured consistently. Note that tip #1 is the child’s first experience tracking left to right in the series.
Randall reminded us that we need to sing from day one. If the child is only chanting, that is fine; chanting will pave the way to singing in tune as the child gets comfortable in his or her voice. Making ANY vocal response is better than silence at this age!
p.23 ~ He demonstrated the “cat back” by moving the wrist forward with fingertips lightly resting on a surface the entire time. The “leap” is then executed by “springing up” from the surface, hinting at a more advanced technique for brilliant chord playing later on.
p.24-25 ~ In the PRIMER, we can refer to these rainbows also in Two Blackbirds (the birds fly on a rainbow from one set of 2 black keys to the next).
p.46-47 ~ We can encourage singing by having the child sing the “so-me-la-so-me” pattern (na na-na na na) along with CD; I think they may enjoy that!
p.72 ~ Be AWARE of child’s needs. Play “live” as a duet the first time, offering a gentle ritard to help the child find and play the first 2 C’s. Rubato can be very musically-satisfying in this piece. Don’t forget to play AND sing softer, louder, and vary this piece each time. The teacher’s melody is enough for starters, but I’d add various accompaniments at subsequent lessons (we teachers get to harmonize a melody!).
NOTE ~ BOOK B is tentatively scheduled for an October 9th release!
Other general notes are how we are instilling BASIC motions at this age; refinement comes GRADUALLY and slowly, and needs to be age-appropriate. I laughed at Randall’s response when one teacher asked about students bouncing their wrists in time….he remarked something like “bounce away!”. A loose wrist and a truly physical sense of beat should NOT be discouraged. We can narrow that range of motion as the child develops, but a non-legato touch with bouncing wrists is perfectly fine for this age group.