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Announcements Blog

This is how kids easily learn piano now

I’m so excited to tell you that my second book in my series Piano For Kids 2 is available now at Amazon.

Like Volume 1, this new songbook continues to deliver songs in Musicolor Notation™ that enable beginners of almost any age to start (and stick with) playing piano and learning music.

Piano For Kids 2 Musicolor Method Songbook

The trick is that many other methods overwhelm the beginner with too much information.  By giving only the necessary information to start playing immediately, we can ignite passion.  This translates to a quick confidence.  “I can do this!”

From there, we can continually motivate and coach our students to higher levels with gently increasing the technical challenges and presenting conceptual information in a gradual way.

Piano For Kids 2 continues the upward momentum with a dozen new songs, theory concepts including rhythm, pitch and the music alphabet along with activities to make understanding fun and easy.

Here’s a video flip-through of the proof copy.

Categories
Mindset

What Happens When You Ask A Preschooler If They Can Do Anything

Ask a preschooler and see what happens.

Imagine this scenario.

You walk into a preschool classroom of three year olds and pose a series of questions to the children:

“Who here knows how to dance?”

Every hand shoots up.

“Who here knows how to sing?”

Again, every hand is in the air.

“Who here knows how to draw?”

The process is repeated over and over with virtually any subject.

Then, you walk into a classroom of 8 year olds and ask the same questions.

“Who here knows how to draw?”

One or two hands go up.  

“Who here knows how to sing?”

Maybe two and a third tentatively rises.

And it goes on with less and less hands going up to each question.

What happened?

About a dozen years ago, I was spending a lot of time in a preschool classroom. My son was three and he was experiencing a high degree of separation anxiety. The school’s policy was to not leave the child in distress and thus, I was in the class everyday.  In fact, it’s as if I enrolled in preschool all over again. I didn’t interact with the class, I just sat in the corner where my son could see me, and I observed.

The preschool teachers were kind, compassionate and patient.  They were in control of the room without resorting to yelling or scolding.  There was structure, order and everything just flowed.

I observed firsthand the incredible confidence of three year olds.  They thought they could do anything. The kids would try anything.

Shut Down By 8

In my music school, we have students in a range of ages, though most start at around four or five.  

What I’ve noticed is by the time a child reaches third or fourth grade, self-doubt has begun to creep in.  Even students who previously were fearless and brimming with confidence began shying away from certain activities.  

“I’m not good at singing.”

“What?!” I would exclaim.

“Who told you that?  You just sang beautifully at the last recital.”  

“No, I’m just not good.”

Sometimes I would dig deeper and find that an older sibling, a cousin, a neighbor or someone who had told them they should stop the activity.

It’s incredibly heartbreaking.

Some of it is a growing consciousness – an awareness in the child’s personal development.  And of course, we can’t all be good at everything.

But much of it comes from external factors.

I know this firsthand

When I was in second grade, I was cast as the Artful Dodger in our class production of the musical Oliver.  I would belt out that song clearly with full conviction. I was fearless.

The day of the show came.  My parents were in the audience.  I was on stage and my song came on.  I sang it to the back of the school gym to and received a thunderous applause.  But as my final notes were ringing out, I spied someone in the crowd. He was a boy who had bullied me, who was snickering and whispering to his friend.  My voice caught. I shrank inside. Something shifted. I forgot my stage directions. I mumbled through the rest of the show.

That day, I stopped singing.*

“I’m not enough, so why even try?”

This mindset is poison.  

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about teaching preschoolers music is the power to prove “you are enough.”  By teaching life skills of perseverance, practice and focus, you can truly surmount any obstacle.

If we, as a society, can teach in a way that breeds confidence and self-worth, hopefully, this poisonous mindset will dissipate.  It will give enough protection to guide these children to adulthood.

It’s the difference between mindsets.  Scarcity versus abundance. Givers versus takers.  Rescuers versus victims. Contributors versus the welfare state.

I think one of the reasons we as a society worship celebrities is that on some deeper level we recognize they have broken through this limiting belief.  

Who gave these people permission to believe that they are enough?

It comes down to just one person – yourself.

Of course it’s easier if you have a support network of family, friends, church, sangha, mastermind, coach, whatever.  

But in the end, it’s yourself.  I’ll talk more about igniting cognition rapidly in a future post.

*By the way, I do sing now, quite a bit.  I’m an active member of my parish choir.  But it took me years of unwinding that internal misplaced belief.

Categories
Mindset

Are you confusing THIS with learning?

What is learning?

The dictionary defines learning as “acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study or being taught.”

I don’t agree.  That definition doesn’t go far enough.

Acquisition of knowledge and skills doesn’t mean much without action. If you never change your behavior, have you really learned?

We all “know” that we should eat right, exercise often and get enough sleep and hydration. But have we really learned this if we never change our behavior?

Today’s media has seen an explosion of information as entertainment.

You can “learn” cooking, home remodeling, medicine, yoga and how to play piano on TV, Facebook and YouTube. We can all DIY everything!

(Note: just make sure you take me to a real doctor when I have a broken leg.)

I believe that to learn is to change.

The change happens from the inside at first. There’s a shift in perspective, understanding and mindset. A new mental model emerges.

A new possibility has come into view. Perhaps one that was not known before, or impossible to even understand.

Then change happens in action and behavior.

Learning=behavior change.

Let’s say you want to learn budgeting.

We all know we should live within our means, spend less frivolously, track and reduce expenditures, and save something for the future. But, knowing and doing are two separate things. It’s the difference between discovery and truly learning.

“Knowing” that I need a budget doesn’t mean that I’ve learned to create and use a budget.

“Knowing” that I want to continually expand my abilities as a musician, teacher, chef, swimmer, whatever… is just the start.

Even learning a new fact each day doesn’t mean much.

Only when you take the new discovery and change your actions will it lead to new outcomes.

I’ve always been a curious person, which leads me to seek new discoveries. From there, I may want to go further if the path aligns with my personal values and mission.

Or maybe I’ll do it just for fun.

This summer, I’ve been teaching my teenage son to drive. He’s so eager to do this. I’m cringing and worried sick. But, I want this to be a great experience for him. (I have pretty much blocked my own memories of my father teaching me to drive. It was definitely not pleasant.)

So we have been seeking large parking lots to practice in. Knowing how to parallel park is very different than doing it. Like playing piano, it takes practice.

The same can be said about teaching or parenting.

You can practice and get better.

First, you need some reflection on what you are doing and how it’s going.

“Without reflection, there can be no growth.”

So, in the last days of summer, I encourage you to go beyond discovery and truly seek to learn something new. Maybe it’s through one of my trainings, or something completely different.

What’s it going to be?

Let me know. I’m rooting for you!