This "Where to Begin" series is written to answer the most common question members ask me- "Where do I start?" This has especially been an issue as we have added so many new materials this last year. This mini-series is the first post to help you see a path among all the trees. Let's start at the beginning- something for preschoolers.
Materials especially for Preschoolers
When I first began creating music products, it was very young children I especially had in mind. It was while my oldest son was a toddler and I was reading everything I could get my hands on regarding early learning. They call it "first child syndrome"- that time when you FINALLY become a parent and become obsessed with making everything just right. Maybe you were able to escape this dreaded condition, but I didn't. And I wanted to get my child's music education off to the right start. As a result, my first product was "Rhythm for Preschoolers", which later was updated and expanded to become our number one best seller, "Beginning Rhythm". This is a great place to start!
Rhythm is a basic skill, but mastering this aspect of music early is essential to fostering overall musical growth. Too often a heavy focus on reading notes leaves rhythm in the cold, but in our home, this is where our musical journey begins. The oversized rhythm cards are especially engaging and attractive for little ones. There are plenty of activities and a suggested teaching sequence to help you get the most out of these materials.
Suggested Transition form Singing to Piano
Next, learning to sing in solfege is a very useful skill that will translate well to playing an instrument later on. "The Solfege Train", as well as some of our supplemental solfege activities will really help with that. Here is my recommended sequence with preschoolers in mind.
- Learn to a few nursery rhymes with traditional words. We have an entire section dedicated to nursery rhymes in the "Solfege Train", as well as a few others in our supplemental activities section. It's likely that they already know a few like "Twinkle". You can work with that!
2. Learn to sing the major scale in solfege and familiarize your children with the colors that we use. There are lots of solfege games in the supplemental activities to help. "Rainbow Castle" under "Board Games" is a popular choice.
3. Learn to sing the same nursery rhymes in solfege. "The Solfege Train" has these nursery rhymes written out in solfege to help you, and there are other songs in our "supplemental activities" that will help you.
4. After they are comfortable singing the nursery rhymes, introduce playing them on the piano. Use the color-coded piano insert. This can be as simple as an invitation to learning. It doesn't have to be formal lessons if you're not ready for that. Simply having the color-coded insert on the piano along with sheet music for songs they already know is a fantastic invitation for learning. Play them yourself with enthusiasm and celebrate if they decide to try it too. You can help them by going through the song as they play, pointing out the notes one at a time until they finish. Celebrate when they do!
5. When they have learned a few songs in a "for fun" setting, and if you feel they are ready for something more formal, go through "My First Piano Lessons". These songs have video lessons to help you know where to place the hands and know how each song should sound.
Other Preschool-Friendly Activities
This is such a fun age! I feel like the best approach to learning is to make it as fun and playful as possible. While this is true for any age, it is especially important for preschoolers.
Definitely check out "The Solfege Train". The "Solfege Circles" are my kids' favorite music activity- we put them on the floor and they sing while they hop around from one note to the next. We also put the solfege on the staircase and they sing the scale as they walk up and down the stairs. There are many videos and activities in our members area that are well-suited for preschoolers.
If you are looking for a structured approach, follow the sequence I've recommended. Teach rhythm first or better yet, along with solfege. There is a smaller, less complete version of our "Beginning Rhythm" program included with the Solfege Train materials. Otherwise, simply explore our site and find an activity and have fun with it. I think that consistently doing musical activities and keeping things fun is more important than a formal curriculum at this age. Make music part of the learning environment. This will really set the stage for accelerated learning when it comes time to begin more formal lessons.