Develop Attention Span of Your Child With Music. Part 14.
Pressing the key.
This seemingly simple action is also composed of a number of physical components. Thus, if you ask the beginner to press a tighter piano key, the sound will be weak and muted.
For the student’s attention to be entirely focused on pressing the key, he should not be distracted by his search for it. With little knowledge of piano geography, forcing attention to focus on deciding how hard (“to sink into the key”) to press the key is the major cause for student’s hand muscle clamping.
A decision of how hard to press the key is an objective physical problem. It is important to remember that the hand of a child is still developing and the instrument with the “tight” keyboard can distract him from the study of piano geography. If the student’s attention is not ready to work with the impact force, the time delay on the Gentle Piano timer will increase. It is important to always watch the timer and try not to exceed the “normal temperature” of this “thermometer.”
The next steps of development will be: the ability to play staccato, legato, and non-legato; the ability to play softly, loudly as well as to use creative touch.
If the timer indicators continue remaining at high levels, the student’s keyboard should be replaced with a synthesizer with the light touch.
Background: Organ was the first keyboard instrument. Dynamically, it did not respond to the power of touch. Harpsichords and clavichords were not able to transmit nuanced tones either. Only in the 18th century, Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the fortepiano - an instrument responsive towards the force of pressing the keys (Forte - louder, Piano - quieter). Most composers (Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, and even Mozart!) have worked with music instruments, the sound quality of which was well below that of modern digital pianos and keyboards.
Jan Steen (1626-1679) A young woman playing harpsichord for the gentleman
Preparatory Activities for Development of Attention Span and the Strength of Impact Force
- Note Duration is a module helps make a gradual shift from visual to muscle attention. Initially, the effort of a student’s attention is directed towards the solving of visual problems (see note in a certain halo of color and bring it to the segment with the same hue by pressing the space bar).
If the student can handle this task with at a good rate with good timer numbers, he will switch his attention towards controlling the strength of impact force.
- Guess Key is a module that helps attention work on the key geography.
It can be used for a smoother transition from stickers to tabs and from synthesizer to piano.
- Exercises. Playing scales and exercises on synthesizer and piano helps attention learn to control the strength of the impact force, because muscles work on autopilot mode.The transition from synthesizer to piano will be smoother for the student’s attention, if he starts by playing the piano exercises that he previously worked on.
- Gentle Piano. With the help of this module, you can train the beginner’s attention to control the strength of the force of impact. The most important condition is the student’s ability to easily find notes and keys reflected in low timer rates.
Beginning of Coordination Development of Both Hands
Sound has a beginning, a development, and an end. This process can be shorter or longer depending on the length of the sound. For beginners, training attention to learn to recognize this information presents an additional challenge.
Animation in the Gentle Piano Module helps the student’s eyes to see when to press, hold, and release the sound.
By playing notes with separate hands, the student starts paying more attention to rhythmic cues faster. By learning to quickly shift his visual focus from notes to keys, he can switch his attention to read additional information. Thus, attention starts to see when the student should hold (sound signal from Mr. Oops), release (butterfly) and replace (spider) the key.
The next step in hand coordination development is playing with both hands when one hand holds the note (blossoming flower) and the other one switches the keys (butterflies). If a beginner is unable to perform this task, it means that his attention is not yet ready to coordinate both hands. In this case, he should continue working on improving the timer reading and wait for his attention to be able to complete this task.
On this video at 1:06-1:16, little Titus is not controlling the movement of his left hand yet and spontaneously press it with the right one. At 1:26 – 1:28 Titus gradually gain control over his movements and learn to press piano keys in one hand while changing them in another.
You have to watch carefully the timer and wait, when child's attention will be able to comprehand this task.
Physical Problems in Concrete Measurements
In the Gentle Piano Module (presentations 1 to 5), the timer is the delay indicator that reflects the physical difficulties of a beginner.
If the rate of delay (in the lower right corner of the screen) is much higher than the number of notes played correctly (in the lower left corner of the screen), it means that the student’s attention is overloaded with physical problems.
To release attention, the following has to be done:
Change the presentation view to the level more comfortable for the eye.
- To suggest that the student reads the text for one hand instead of both.
- To cut the text (down to 1 note, if necessary, in one hand).
Playing the keyboard with "weighted keys" and traditional sheet music without visual cues is the most challenging for attention, which leads to increate in time delay and higher number of mistakes. In contrast, playing synthesizer with stickers in a light key mode on level 1 of visual presentation is the least challenging.
Spending attention on physical tasks is an objective problem that can not be ignored in working with the.
To avoid putting the student's attention in “frustration mode,” it is essential to watch the timer closely: the lower the number the better the result.
Additional Ways of Attention Development in Working with Keys
There are several types of activities that will help you learn to quickly identify any key:
Guess Key is a game that helps beginners find a key with the help of an image;
Note Alphabet, Alphabet Song, and Note Sequence activity help direct attention towards memorizing the key sequence;
Fruit Lines, Treble and Bass Puzzle, and the Gentle Piano Modules (game presentations 2, 4, 5 and 6) train attention to see lines and spaces.
The Main Stages of Attention Development in Reading Music
Hiner Method not only helps students see notes, but also teaches them to see the note positions on the lines and spaces of the music stave.
At first, the beginner's sight finds a note with the help of a symbol. Later, the focus is shifted to reading lines and spaces. This process can be compared to looking at a GPS: first, a driver zooms in on a certain street on the map and then zoom out in order to see the whole area.
Cards training attention to focus on the lines of music staves represent an additional tool. They should be used when a beginner is able to focus on the fine details of the musical text.
Note Alphabet, the Alphabet Song, and working with note sequences direct attention towards memorization of note sequences. Knowing these sequences helps visual perception find the note in the system.This principle is utilized in creation of catalogues and other optimizers of visual search.
The ability to focus on a music note, isolate it from among the musical text, shift the visual focus from the note to the key, control the strength of the impact force – all these and other physical problems should be considered when working with beginners.
Only gradual development and improvement of these skills help them switch to autopilot mode. This saves student’s attention energy and enables him to independently solve superstructural problems.
In the Soft Mozart program, the physical parameters of attention development are measured with numbers. The figure on the left helps understand the number of mistakes. The figure on the right shows the time delay in relation to real time (presentations 1 to 5). As a rule, delay is caused by namely switching attention to solving physical problems.
Decrease in the amount of mistakes as well as lower time delay on the timer helps both the student and the teacher decide whether the student is ready to move on to more complext tasks and what the maximum optimal increase in the work load is.
Attention and Development of Ability to See Musical Notatio
Just like visual perception of images develops in newborns, so does their attention, directed towards visual perception of music notation.
Focus. In order to teach the beginner to focus on music notation, we work with cards where he can learn to find them with the help of images, voice, and sound.
Concentration. For the purpose of visual perception development, the Gentle Piano Module contains a focus line where a student can concentrate on a music symbol, study its distinct characteristics (color, position on lines or spaces), and remember it in more detail.
Focus Redirection. Identical key coding helps students learn visual focus from the music notation space to that of the keyboard.
Balance Between Visual and Motor Perception.
Beginner's attention is evenly distributed between muscular and visual development throughout all modules of Soft Mozart. For development of motor skills, visual tasks are simplified and vice versa.
In the Note Duration Module the student receives a signal through color-coding that tells him how long to hold a key. With the development of skill of pressing and releasing a key, the color-coding is gradually removed, and the student's attention switches working on the sound of the music piece and the visual representation of the note length.
All modules of the program use interactive algorithm that reads the beginner’s reaction speed to visual images. As his coordination improves, it makes visual tasks more complex.
In Gentle Piano Module attention is directed towards motor skills development. Here visual presentations 1 and 3 should be used, as they are easier for reading musical text.
While gradually increasing complexity of the text at level 2, 4, 5, and 6 presentations, we choose the piano pieces that are easier for the student’s motor skills, thus, redirecting his attention towards reading musical text.
If the build-up of complexity is gradually and properly adjusted, the student will be able to choose his own workload and will be in charge of his own progress. This significantly improves the efficiency of his attention and helps reach the stage of solving superstructural problems faster.
In this process, the role of a teacher as well as of a parent is to learn to work with the student's attention instead of fighting it.
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