Posts

Buying a Keyboard or Digital Piano

The Mac Meridian Logo

We get asked all the time what keyboard parents should buy for their child.  It’s not a wonder parents can feel overwhelmed when looking for a keyboard—there are so many out there!  There are many brands, models, features, sizes, and terms that probably feel foreign to many parents.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way first—buying a piano is better that buying a keyboard.  But, and that’s a big but, it needs to be a quality piano that has all working keys, can stay in tune, and has good tone quality. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive, but you will need to know what to look for.

With that out of the way, there are still many parents who will choose a keyboard, usually for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They don’t want to make the investment in a piano until they know their child will stick with it
  • They don’t have room in their house for a piano
  • They want the extra capabilities that come with a keyboard—ability to plug in headphones, recording or midi options, etc.

When buying a keyboard, you will want to consider how much money you will want to spend. In Let’s Play Music class at The MAC Meridian, we use mainly the lower end keyboards.  Always use a keyboard that has full-sized keys, meaning the keys are the same size as piano keys.  When your child does transfer to a piano, this will allow for an easier transition because he/she will not have to relearn hand-spacing, which could be very frustrating.  Most keyboards do have full-sized keys, but those that are considered more to be toys than instruments may not. You will also want to have at least 61 keys on your keyboard. If a keyboard has less keys than 61, there is not enough room on the keyboard to play many pieces/songs, and your child will outgrow it very quickly.

We like the Casio brand for the lower end keyboards.  You can often find bundles that come with a stand, power cord, and headphones on Amazon.   We like this Casio CTK2400

Of course, you don’t have to buy a bundle. You may be thinking, “I have a table to put the keyboard on.” And maybe you do!  Keep this in mind—the correct position for a child to sit at the keyboard is at a height that will allow the forearms to be parallel to the floor and the elbow to be at a 90 degree angle.  For a young child, this would mean you need a very low table. A keyboard stand is adjustable, and will allow for you to raise the level of the keyboard as your child grows.

The 61-key keyboard will get your child through Let’s Play Music, or about 2 years of piano lessons.

If you are wanting a keyboard that will last longer and be a more quality instrument, you will want to move into the digital piano area, meaning the instrument is designed to closely mimic the feel and sound of a traditional piano. We like the Yamaha P45.  This digital piano has 88 full-sized weighted keys. An instrument with weighted keys will require more finger strength from the child.  This is a good thing!  It will build their muscles!  Your child will also be able to learn to control the volume of his playing with the touch of his fingers. The softer a child presses on the keys, the softer the sound.  The harder a child presses, the louder the sound.  It does have a volume dial, which will also help control volume.  This digital piano does not have a lot of the fancy keyboard options, but is an excellent keyboard for a beginner student to have the feel that mimics a piano, and a parent who wants the flexibility of a keyboard. It is a heavy instrument, so make sure you have the double x stand or a furniture stand.  A single X-stand will not be sturdy enough to support this digital piano.

For those parents wanting to spend more money and have a digital piano with more options and capabilities, we like the Yamaha DGX660.  We did a lot of research on digital pianos in this price range.  We liked this one for its GHS weighted action keys, 128-note polyphony, PureCF sampled piano, and USB/recording capabilities.  It has many more options that these, but these are the ones that has us sold on this model.  This digital piano is LARGE! It is not easily portable and will definitely need a furniture stand to sit on. We have owned this digital keyboard for just over 2 years and are still extremely happy with its sound and performance capabilities.

A quality instrument will do wonders for the excitement your child feels for music lessons!  This cannot be stated more firmly or importantly.  If you want your child to enjoy lessons, make the investment!

The Mac Meridian LogoLet's Play Music logo

Let’s Play Music Third Year Graduation Recital

The third year of Let’s Play Music is very fun and very full—jam packed with learning to play scales and chords in different keys, learning to improvise and transpose, learning to count music properly in different time signatures, and the coup de gras—composing an original piece to play at the recital.

Students begin thinking of ideas for the composition in January when Orange Roots semester begins.

Let's Play Music logo

We talk about inspiration and what they, the student, gets excited about.  We talk about how music can tell a story, just like a book can, and how music follows patterns, just like books do.  We explore different sounds on the piano, e.g “What would it sound like if it was raining outside?” “What does an elephant walking sound like on the piano?”

In mid-February we are ready to begin putting notes down on the manuscript paper. Students (and parents) often feel apprehensive about beginning a composition. But, after meeting one-on-one with the teacher to begin their composition, they leave their lesson feeling excited about going home and adding to what they just wrote.

beginning composition

Students spend the next few weeks making changes and adding new ideas to their composition. Once again, there is a lesson, one-on-one with the teacher, at the end of March where students will put the finishing touches on their masterpiece.

final composition

Then they begin practicing for the recital.  Parents are often surprised that a student will need to practice something they wrote themselves.  Let’s Play Music students are often able to write and play music that is beyond their ability to read music, so practice is necessary.

The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recitalLet's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

The recital is truly a time of celebration! Each student has progressed at their own pace, but we celebrate where they are right now!

Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Parents are an integral part of the Let’s Play Music program.  This program is successful because of dedicated parents who come to class with their child and follow up with practice time at home.  Sometimes practicing is not fun and life gets in the way, but LPM parents are truly the best! Why? Because they have committed to helping their child through this wonderful program and have given them the gift of music. At the recital we always take time to honor the parents and their contribution to the child.

Let's Play Music at The MAC MeridianLet's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Let’s Play Music graduates are ready to enter private lessons and be successful. They have been given the tools for a strong musical foundation and been taught successful practice techniques.  They have learned to intelligently listen to classical music and recognize classical form. Their ears, eyes, fingers, and voices have been trained to help them decipher and play difficult music passages.  But, most of all, they have learned that they can do hard things, and for this, we celebrate!

IMG_5094 Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Let’s Play Music Recital for First and Second Year Students

Every year at recital time, parents ask, “What do the kids do for the recital?” It’s a valid question—after all, Let’s Play Music is not like traditional piano lessons, so what would that recital look like?

ShrugEmoticon-

Recitals for first and second year students have two goals:

  1. Demonstrate how much we have learned over the past year, and show how we have learned it.
  2. Celebrate each student and their progress.

celebrate

With those two goals in mind, this is what a Let’s Play Music recital looks like for first and second year students—

As a teacher, I pick 8-10 songs for each first year and second year that demonstrate a wide range of the skills the students have been working on. Some of the songs will have bell accompaniment, some will have autoharp accompaniment, and some will have piano accompaniment. The first-year students have been practicing playing 2 out of those 3 instruments, so they will help accompany the group on bells and autoharp. The second-year students have been learning to accompany while playing piano, so they will help with the piano accompaniment.

Bell assignments and keyboard assignments are done as a group, which is always a relief to these young children.

IMG_5008 IMG_5007 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC MeridianRecital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian

 

We will also demonstrate one of our puppet shows—how could we not?! They are “Sol-fun”!

This year the first-year students demonstrated “Magic Lamp,” which is actually “Aragonaise” from Georges Bizet Carmen.

Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian IMG_5012

The second-year students were excited to show how much they love Johannes Brahms “Hungarian Dance No. 5”

Let's Play Music recital at The MAC MeridianLet's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian

At the end, we celebrate each child and their progress.  Let’s Play Music is all about teaching a strong musical foundation and skills that a child can apply to any instrument. We are not a performing group, and we don’t spend a lot of time in class perfecting the recital pieces.  Still, the students have so much fun showing off their stuff and it is a great night for all of us!

Let's Play Music recital 2017 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music Recital at The MAC Meridian 2017 Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music recital Let's Play Music recital at The MAC Meridian Let's Play Music Recital at The MAC Meridian The MAC Music and Art Center Recital 2017

When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!

The MAC Meridian lets play music logo

Climb the Mountain-A Perspective on a Child’s Music Lessons

In 2004 I was living in Arizona.  I had recently started jogging, but since any form of exercise is not my forte, I was still struggling to run a 12-minute mile after months of exercising.  My brother, who was born with my share of the athletic genes, invited me and my sisters to come to Idaho and run a half marathon with him.  He said, “Part of it is uphill and it gets steep sometimes, but it’s not bad.  Just train with the treadmill on an incline.”  Naïve exerciser and marathon runner that I was, I bought his bag of lies and agreed to come, as did my 3 sisters, who were (and still are) in much better shape than I am.

On a side note, the half marathon is called “Robie Creek” and is considered the toughest half marathon in the Northwest. 

As we arrived to the start line for the race, my brother looked nervous and began to pace.  It was then that he told us the first 8.5 miles were all uphill. Up a mountain. A steep mountain. All. Uphill. Ugh. Lucky for him, we didn’t truly understand what he was telling us, but it was too late for all of us to back out and we forged ahead.  The race started and it wasn’t too bad.  We wound around a neighborhood and into the foothills.  At first the path was paved and smooth, but soon it turned into a dirt trail with rocks and divots and I had to look down constantly as to not trip and fall.  At first, there was very little incline, but after a mile or so, the trail became more and more steep.  The steeper the trail became, the slower my pace became until I was merely walking, and not running at all.

My brother took off and pulled ahead of us soon after the race started. Two of my sisters who were fitness instructors at the time, held back and we stayed together for the first few miles. And then they left me and my youngest sister behind.  By the time we made it to mile 6, every muscle in my body was screaming at me to stop.  Just sit down. You hate this. Curse Craig (said brother). It was not long before I began to share these desires with my remaining sister.  She would say, “see that tree up there? You can make it to that tree.” When we made it to the tree, she would say, “there’s a water station up another 100 feet, you can make it to the water station.” This continued until we reached the top of the mountain.  She never stopped telling me I could do it. She never let me stop and sit.  She knew and I knew that I would never finish if I stopped.

At the end of every semester, at Station Day, I have an opportunity as a Let’s Play Music/piano teacher to visit one-on-one with the parents of my students.  I always ask them how it’s going at home.  Do they have any concerns? I often hear stories of frustrated students and “I’m at the end of my rope” parents.  What to do?

I tell parents that learning an instrument is like climbing a mountain.  It starts off so fun and easy.  The excitement of learning something new gives the child the desire and incentive to practice because it is just so fun.  In other words, the path is paved and smooth and not much effort is needed to accomplish what the teacher is asking the student to do. Then as time goes on, the music begins to get harder, the practice time isn’t as fun, and the child must start working.  There may be rocks and divots in the path. That’s when the complaining starts. That’s when they begin to fight practice time. That’s when the child starts saying things like, “I hate this,” “It’s too hard,” “I can’t do it, “I want to quit.” You know what I mean.

So, as a parent, how do you support your child while he or she climbs the mountain? Do you give them small goals and celebrate when the goals are achieved? Do you say, “See this measure? You can play this measure.” And then give lots of high fives and praise when they play the measure? Do you keep encouraging and keep gently pushing and let them know they can do it? There are countless ways to support your child and be the encouragement that they need.

I love the lightbulb moments and I see them happen at different times for each student.  You know what I mean—the moment where everything clicks.  Their fingers, their eyes, their brains, all begin to work together and what was once hard now becomes enjoyable and fun again.  They usually run into class with a huge smile on their face and want to show me how great they are at playing ___________.  I love this moment and I love to celebrate with them and exchange knowing nods with their mothers.

Interestingly enough, the lightbulb moment is not when the growth was happening.  The growth was happening during the pain, during the tears and the frustration.  That’s when the student was growing and learning. It was hard to see then, and it is next to impossible to feel it when you are in the middle of it, but that’s when it was happening. If they had stopped when it was hard, they never would have experienced and seen the fruits of the growth.

Learning an instrument is like climbing a mountain, there will be tough times, hard times and it will hurt.  You may even think that you should quit because there are times when it is hard and painful, but if you keep pushing through and keep moving and working, no matter how slow that movement is, you will eventually reach the top of the mountain where everything suddenly becomes a little easier and more enjoyable. It is then that you can reap the rewards of hard work and dedication.

There will always be another mountain to climb.  Some will be small hills and some will be so large they will seem impossible to climb, but there is always another mountain and that keeps us moving forward. Don’t sit down, don’t stop. One step at a time.

Thanks to my angel sister, I did make it to the end of the marathon and only lost 2 toenails.

The MAC Meridian

themacmeridian.com

Let’s Play Music Station Day

At the end of each Let’s Play Music semester for the 2nd and 3rd year students, we have Station Day!

lets play music logo

green turtleshells logopurple magic logo

What is Station Day, you ask?  Well, Station Day is a celebration of everything the students have learned that semester.  Instead of keyboards lined up in rows, the classroom is set up in stations where students will rotate through with a parent and show they what they have learned through the games and activities set up at each station.

Let's Play Music Station Day at The MAC Meridian

This year’s Green Turtles and Purple Magic students are creating rhythms and performing them on rhythm instruments, and are performing puppet shows for their parents to classical music from Strauss, Mozart, Vivaldi, and Copland.

Station Day Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

They are celebrating their new knowledge and skills as they perform from their songbooks, play “Don’t Eat Pete,” and create an original 5-finger melody in C position.

Station Day Let's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

Station Day is one of the highlights of Let’s Play Music and one of the favorite days for students and parents at The MAC.  Don’t forget the “Elf Yourself” bonus station in the lobby!  Merry Christmas MAC families!

The MAC Music and Art Center Christmas

Let’s Play Music is a 3-year music foundation course for children entering the program between ages 4 and 6. Students learn complete musicianship as they learn keyboarding skills, compose, transpose, and complete college level music theory.  We will be accepting new students for the 2017-2018 school year in March 2017.  Please contact us to attend a sample class and add your child’s name to our waiting list. For children ages 2-4 please visit our Sound Beginnings page for information about this fabulous music class for young children.  Both of these music programs are available at The MAC Music and Art Center in Meridian, Idaho

Sound Beginnings Instrument Day

Instrument Day! is always a favorite day in the Sound Beginnings class!

Sound Beginnings is a parent and child music class for young children–2-4 year olds.

sound beginnings logo

 

This semester’s class was named “White Horses”

white horses logo

and many of the games, songs, and activities centered around horses.  The final class each semester of Sound Beginnings is called Instrument Day.  This is a super fun day when students can bring their parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends to participate in class with them.

Sound Beginnings Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian Music and Art Center

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Each family bring instruments from home—some are professional string or brass instruments, some are children’s toys, and some are homemade.  Whatever the children bring, they are excited to share with the class.  We always make a rhythm instrument to take home and this year it was the jingle glove!

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

 

Just find a child’s size glove and hot glue jingle bells on the fingertips for a super fun and easy instrument.  Of course the parents are the ones doing the gluing, but the children are the ones picking out the color of the glove and the jingles.

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

Instrument Day at The MAC Meridian

At The MAC we love to see the joy on the children’s faces as they explore music and share it with their families. Thanks MAC families!

Join us for the next round of classes beginning January 9! Register HERE

The Birth of The MAC

The MAC Meridian family

Micah and Tina have known each other ever since they met as 14 year-old high school freshman. They have always had a love of the arts and cultural activities.  One of their favorite dates has always been to go on an art walk to local galleries, then hit a food truck or small locally owned restaurant for a bite to eat.

When Micah and Tina began having children in 1992, they knew they wanted their children to have a strong art and music background-with an artist father and a musician mother that’s a pretty obvious path!  Raising their children in Mesa Arizona for the first few years, they found many options for music and art for their children’s education, and watched their four children grow and develop their own talents.

boy playing cello

When they made the move to Meridian Idaho in 2005, they saw those opportunities shrink exponentially as they searched diligently for quality and affordable art programs.  They wanted something more than a so-called “instructor” in a room with art supplies on a table and the children left to their own devices.  They also looked for something that was affordable and fun, yet still educational and skill-building.  After several years of searching, they gave up and nurtured their children’s artistic pursuits at home.

Meanwhile, Tina had found a great music program called “Let’s Play Music” and began to teach classes for young children out of their home.  Within 3 years, those music classes were maxed to capacity and it stayed that way for years.Let's Play Music at The MAC MeridianLet's Play Music at The MAC Meridian

As Tina explored the possibility of expansion of Let’s Play Music and the mommy and me music classes called Sound Beginnings into a new venue, adding art classes was an exciting addition.

student art painting

The MAC Grand Opening August 2015

Micah and Tina searched for months for the perfect space for the music classes and the new art classes. Two of their top requirements were that the location had to be in NW Meridian and it had to be family friendly. Finally they found the perfect spot! Located near 2 elementary schools, a daycare facility, and a pediatric dentist, The MAC is nestled right in the heart of where many young Meridian Idaho families live.

student art painting

The MAC Grand Opening August 2015

The MAC is truly a family-run and family-oriented facility.  You will see Tina teaching many of the music classes, Taylor (daughter) teaching many of the art classes, and you will see Sam (son) manning the front desk. The MAC has added a few new teachers in the last 18 months who feel like family!

Let’s Play Music and Sound Beginnings are growing by leaps and bounds at The MAC!  Art classes are gaining in popularity and enrollment!  If you haven’t been to The MAC yet, what are you waiting for?

Hey Music Thanks for the Therapy

One of my earliest memories is of lying on the floor next to the piano while my mother played from a big book of popular songs called, “Reader’s Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs” and my younger sister danced around the room. My sister would always say, “Mom-play the oo-oo-la-la song.” We knew what she meant, she wanted “Blue Moon.”

treasure of best loved songs

From my vantage point I could see the hammers striking the strings of our Kimball spinet piano and it was fascinating. Music was important to my parents.  So important, that the first piece of furniture they bought after getting married was that Kimball spinet.

baldwin piano

I come from a family of 9 children (no that is not a typo).  My mother’s greatest musical talent was a desire for her children to be musical and to instill a love of music in every one of us. My father has a beautiful singing voice and he can sing every song in the hymn book at church without looking at the music.  Not just every hymn, but every verse of every hymn and for each verse he will sing a different part-bass, tenor, alto, and soprano.  Yes, it does sound a little odd when he belts out those high notes, but every time I hear him I’m impressed with his ability to pull it off.

Growing up I played three instruments-the piano, the harp, and the French horn.  Two of those instruments I love and one I loathe.  I had to lug my French horn back and forth from school every day, and that was a heavy load for a petite girl who could have fit herself into the case.  Sooooo, my father built me a custom French horn trailer for my bike out of a luggage carrier and bungee cords. Since I don’t think an actual picture of this trailer exists, my totally talented artist husband sketched this out for me in just a couple of minutes.  This is me:

sketch of a girl on a bike

Forty years later I still have people commenting on me riding my bike to school with my French horn trailing behind. Apparently it’s legendary.

I spent my junior high and high school years as a band and orchestra geek and loved it.  To this day, every time I walk into a music store, school music room, or rehearsal hall and smell the valve oil, dried spittle, and bow rosin, it just calms my soul and I know I’m with my peeps.

In high school when I would come home after having a not so good day, I would sit at the piano and play Mendelssohn’s “Agitation” as fast and loud as my fingers would allow.  Always made me feel better and that was my go-to stress reliever, and inevitably left me with a sore left hand.

On those days when I felt I would burst from happiness, my go-to song was Debussy’s First Arabesque. This piece still makes me happy inside.

On days when I was feeling adventurous and excited I would play Fire Dance from the Petite Suite by David Watkins.

On days when I just wanted to fit in with other teenagers I would play Jessica’s Theme from the Man from Snowy River. (Because apparently every teenager that played the piano loved the drama of this piece and it was a necessity to know how to play it.  Common question in the 80s, “Do you know how to play “Jessica’s Theme” from the Man from Snowy River?”)

Eleven years ago my husband and I decided to move 1000 miles away from our home, our family, and our friends so we could start a new life.  It was rough and I was very sad and very lonely.  The Kimball spinet came with me and we spent countless hours together that first year because it was my best friend.  It was always there, it let me express myself without words, it soothed my troubled heart, and it made me remember what it felt like to be happy.

Even now, when my children see me stressed, sad, or anxious, they ask, “Have you played your harp or piano today?”  They just know.  Music is what feelings sound like.  Music is what gives sound to my thoughts and life to my soul.  I may not be the best pianist or harpist, but that doesn’t matter. What making music does for me is life-forming and life-changing.

Hey music thanks for the therapy picture

Music Lesson Practicing Helps and Tips

It’s almost October…really?!  Where did the time go?  Weren’t we just camping, swimming, and boating at the lake just last week?  Well, it seemed like we were, and time goes quickly, especially between music lessons, and especially when the day for your child’s lesson arrives and…. you remember they were supposed to practice!  Ooops.  Then you are trying to cram a week’s worth of practicing into the morning before the lesson. How many times has this happened to you?

When you signed your child up for music lessons you had a great idea. You are most likely aware of all the cognitive benefits of music lessons and the academic and social benefits as well.  In fact, I don’t know of an extra-curricular activity that gives more lasting benefit to a child and family than music lessons does. But, big rewards come with lots of consistent effort, and because your child is…a child, that consistency has to come from you.

I recommend 5 practices each week for my students. This is for my Let’s Play Music students and my private piano and harp students. This is optimal, and none of us achieve optimal levels 100% of the time, but we shoot for them as often as possible. And now that it is almost October, and the novelty of starting piano lessons for the first time, or starting them again this school year has worn off, you may be encountering the practicing struggle. The practice struggle is the #1 reason parents give in and let their child quit piano lessons.  If I had a nickle for every time I’ve had an adult say to me, “I wish my mom had not let me quit taking piano lessons…” then I would have lots of nickles.

picture 001

One way to avoid much of the practice struggle is to establish good habits and routines from the very beginning.  Establish these habits and implement them early and you will avoid a lot of conflict:

1. Establish a time to practice and make it the same time every day.  What is your child’s most productive time of day?  Is she a morning person?  A night owl?  Does practicing right after school work best? You know your child’s body clock and rhythm and let it work for you and him.  Don’t try to practice at a time when your child has brain fog because they are tired.

2. Practice right after your lesson or at the longest, the first day after the lesson.  As a teacher, I can only write down part of what we covered in the lesson.  The sooner after the lesson your child practices, the more he will remember.

3. Don’t worry so much about the length of time practiced.  Twenty minutes can be used wisely, or it can be wasted and pittered away, but either way, 20 minutes has still passed.  Focus instead on the number of times your child has practiced each piece, and whether the trouble spots for that particular piece have been the main focus and properly practiced.  I will have another blog post soon about how to learn and practice a piece, but that is for another day and another post.

4. Actively practice with your child at least the first 2 days after the lesson.  The younger the child, the more they need you to be active in their learning and practicing.  Sit together and go over the lesson-identify things that might be new or hard that week and work through them together.  If you don’t read music or play an instrument, attend lessons with your child and learn it together so you can be your child’s greatest asset at home.

5. Make practicing fun!  Children learn through play!  If  a child has fun while practicing, you better believe she will want to come back and “play” again another day. Again, I will address the “fun” aspect of piano practicing in another blog post.  You are anxiously waiting for this one, aren’t you?

6.  End on a positive note.  Studies have shown that if you end an activity with a good feeling, the challenging part of the activity will not be remembered as much as the good feeling.  The feeling your child has when they leave the piano is the same one they will bring back with them the next time they practice-make sure it’s a good one!

Kelan

Let’s Play Music FAQ

What age is the program for?
Ideal starting age is 4 or 5 in September. However, since the skills and concepts taught are quite advanced, many children have begun classes at age 6 and finished successfully.

How is the curriculum calendar structured?
The curriculum is organized into 6 sequential semesters spanning 3 years. It follows the regular school year. Classes begin August 24 and run through the end of April. A recital will be held after the spring semester is over.

How long and how frequent are the classes?
Classes are taught weekly. 1st year: 45 minutes, 2nd year: 50 minutes, 3rd year: 55 minutes.

What is the cost of tuition?
First year tuition is $200/semester or 8 monthly installments of $50 each. Second year tuition is $220/semester or 8 monthly installments of $55 each. Third year tuition is $240/semester or 8 monthly installments of $60 each. There are 2 semesters every school year.

What materials do I get?
1st Year materials include an 8 Tone Bell Set with carrying case and mallets, student binder with weekly Lesson Guides and Theory Assignments, Flashcards, Home Study CDs, and a Tote Bag. 2nd and 3rd year materials include Piano Songbooks, Home Study CDs, Flashcards and new weekly Lesson Guides and Theory Assignments.

What is the cost for materials?
Cost for materials is approximately $88 for the 1st year and $63 for 2nd and 3rd years.

How big are the classes?
Optimum class size is 6-7 children, though there may be anywhere from 4-8

Why are they group lessons?
It has been well documented that children in group settings learn and perform better. They are more comfortable and stimulated in this environment. They thrive on the synergy and playful interaction of the Let’s Play Music class.

What is the parent involvement?
Parent involvement in music training is crucial. Parents are involved at home and in class. The first year, parent/caregiver attends with the child every other week. The second and third years, parent attendance is only once a month, though at home involvement remains high.

Is there any vocal training?
Let’s Play Music adheres to the philosophy that the voice is the first musical instrument. Most of class time is spent singing. The voice is trained to sing in tune, to sing naturally and openly, to sing in harmony, and to sing accompanied. At ages 4-8, specific tone, placement or support instruction is not completely beneficial. Let’s Play Music is not a performing group.

Which is emphasized more: ear-training or note-reading?
There is a beautiful balance of ear training and note reading in Let’s Play Music. Note reading is not delayed and the traditional letter names are taught so that graduates make a smooth transition to traditional private piano lessons.

Isn’t age 4-5 too young to learn piano?
Research has proven that age 4-5 is an ideal age for music instruction. The ears are at prime listening capacity and the brain is busy connecting a network of neurons. Let’s Play Music captures this opportunity window by training the ears without requiring the finger strength or dexterity that a piano does.

Can I register for the 2nd or 3rd year without having been through the 1st year?
No. Let’s Play Music is highly sequential, meaning that concepts are introduced and then built upon. Completion of the 1st year is a pre-requisite to registration for the 2nd year.

What are the main instruments for the second and third years?
The piano becomes the instrument for instruction and practice in the second and third years. Each child plays on his/her own keyboard in class and needs a keyboard with full-sized keys or a piano for practice at home. Because of the intensive training in staff reading during the first year, this transition to piano is smooth and natural.

What do students do after 3 years of Let’s Play Music?
After graduation, students are prepared to excel in private piano instruction. They enter private lessons with knowledge of note names, rhythmic values, chord structure, etc, and with skills of playing scales and cadences in five keys, transposing, and composing.

How is Let’s Play Music different from other keyboard methods?
Let’s Play Music is the only program that contains over 25 original songs, games and activities that teach precise musical concepts. It incorporates the philosophies of Kodaly, Orff and Dalcroze and adapts them specifically to the piano. Classical music is introduced in “puppet shows” that will forever endear children to this genre. There are numerous innovative, creative ideas for internalizing music. In addition to these items, Let’s Play Music differs from traditional piano methods in that musical concepts are taught through games and full body involvement, it is in a class setting, and ear training is emphasized from the start. Let’s Play Music also differs from other “ear-training” based methods in that note reading is emphasized from the onset and that the traditional letter names are used.

Why should I enroll my child in Let’s Play Music?
Your child will LOVE it! You will love it because you will see him/her demonstrate advanced musical concepts and skills. Your relationship with your child will grow as you enjoy class time and practice time together, in a playful, nurturing environment. Your child’s talent will become evident as he/she develops into a musician with an in-depth understanding of music theory, classical form, harmony and composition. Your outlook on teaching children music will never be the same!