64. Short Sums, or An Outline of Other Skills
The language of music is the most universal of all earthly forms of communication, and a quick development of musical skills grants a slew of useful secondary effects. These include a good spatial thinking, an understanding of the logic of language, increased concentration, systematic perception of what is given, musical philosophy and coordination, and most importantly, the skill of an effective development of other skills. Undergoing such a preparation, a person will easily master all other sciences – the natural as easily as humanities. There is a vast collection of material out there that examines the effect of music on development in detail. Gordon Shaw’s “Keeping Mozart in Mind” is a great starting point for those that want to learn more about this.
In the meantime, I continue to see how quickly toddlers that have learned music grammar learn to read and write. I am convinced that it’s worthwhile to start one’s music education long before learning to read and write.
Our instrument of choice is an electronic piano connected to a computer through MIDI, which enables interaction between the two. Sight reading, when played and voiced in Solfeggio, is developed simultaneously. The support for this is an elementary representation of the music staff and corresponding stickers on the keys. At the same time, each of these skills can be worked on separately, which will speed up familiarization with music notation.
Music reading should develop in all possible directions, both in “height” and “depth.” Here are some of the best supports for this:
- For fluent reading: the most basic music material on a traditional, black and white music staff. Simple is best, as the coordination shouldn’t be overtaxed.
- For development of coordination: “practice” material on a simplified music staff with colors and shapes.
- For perfection of the technique of playing: special exercises for the visual, tactical, and auditory perceptions. They should be carried out parallel to all other work.
No person is obligated to be born with musical gifts in order to make music. While teaching, we should depend on the basic abilities of any person: his ability to hear different sounds, distinguish different colors, and move his fingers. This is absolutely enough. The abilities of a person aren’t gifts – they can easily be developed. A true gift is the success of a method of education, not the talent of a “genius.” And, of course, the most important element in such a method is natural gradualness.
A person between the ages of 2-5 to 80 has come to learn from zero. Which skills of his can we rely on to start a gradual progression to fluent sight reading with both hands? Distinctly speaking plain words and syllables. Distinguishing one picture from another. Distinguishing colors: red and blue, green and brown. Pressing down a key with one finger. That’s all! A two-year-old child has full control of these skills. More than that, even in the cradle, he was already capable of hearing and remembering all types of different music.
Speech memory can act as a support for familiarization of the music alphabet, the keys, and notes. Differentiation of pictures and colors ties the screen to the keys. And the ability to press a note clamps together seeing, checking, pressing, and naming the note, all into one. This is sight reading.
Deriving the concrete sounds, emphasized by their visual and figurative references, the child can easily grasp the language of music – he makes it himself. The pictures gradually change into note symbols, his coordination develops, and auditory experience is developed. A person becomes an educated musician just as naturally as a seed grows into a flower, without coercion or difficulty.