Climbing Mount Music

Ideas for Making a Musical Life


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Album of the Week – Juno Award Winner Diana Panton’s Children’s Album

I Believe in Little Things

Hurrah for this beautiful and creative album of Diana Panton’s!  I was so thrilled when I found out her album “I Believe in Little Things” had won Best Children’s Album of the Year at the 2017 Juno’s.   This is an album you will love to listen to even without your kids around.  Believe it or not I have already put this on, poured myself a glass of wine and done some Sunday evening cooking for the week after Evan went to bed!

I suppose it should be no surprise to me that this artist created such a winner.  Parents can be assured that behind the music is a winner of a person too.  I collaborated with Diana for a Jazz concert a couple of years ago at Hamilton Place and was struck by her approachable, kind and open spirit.  Interesting fact about Diana; she has what is called synesthesia which is when one sense is stimulated by another sense.  In Diana’s case she sees colours when she hears music depending on the key and the pitches.  There is a connection in her brain between the part that processes colour and the part that processes what she’s hearing.  Very few people have this – pretty cool!  Here’s an article on the phenomenon.

Things I love about this album aside from Diana’s sweet, addictive voice.

  1. The production. You feel like you are in a room with her, the band and yourself.  Crystal, clear and pure sounding.  It matches the quality of her voice so well.  Love it.
  2. The conversations you can have with your child that it creates. Some lyrics are in French, there are instrument solos you can point out “that’s a cello” “that’s a guitar”, some of the songs are from movies you can watch together (The Muppet Movie), so many jumping off points.
  3. These are jazzy versions of songs you may already have listened to with your child and if you haven’t you can add them to your playlists to open up the idea that there are so many ways to interpret the same piece of music. Kind of like when someone has a different accent or speaks a different language.
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Make Practice Fun – Roll for Review

boredgirl

The most important element of Suzuki work is review.  Why?  We use the pieces we know best to develop our technique and add new musical elements like dynamics and phrasing.  When we don’t have to be preoccupied with what notes to play we can concentrate on new things and bring our playing to a new level more easily.

Very young children love repetition so review can be a very enjoyable part of practice.  For older children it’s boring to play songs they already know and when they want to get through the book, playing songs they already know can become a drag.

This idea will be particularly helpful when it is time to get prepared for a book graduation and at all times make review a fun part of daily practice.

needed-for-diceYou’ll Need

In a dream world…

Realistically…

  • Foam Dice or any sort of cube shaped toy from your child’s collection of toys
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Songs for Review. Lots of options here***

*** The name of each song scribbled on paper you managed to find (although consider a drawing since perhaps your child can’t read yet let alone decipher your handwriting).

*** An opportunity for a time-killing, yet highly creative, activity of choosing an image together either as you learn each song or when you need this exercise.

*** The image could be in black and white and your child might like to colour it.

Adhere the images to the sides of the dice and have your child roll to find out what piece they should practice. The nice thing about using Velcro is that it re-sticks very easily and is less of a mess.  I recommend putting the hook half (the scratchy half) on the dice.  You’ll need more of the loop half since there are more images than sides of the dice.  I just cut mine up to make enough.

dice-completeHow to Use the Dice

In a Standard Week of Practice:

If your teacher gives you specific review pieces for the week then you should use the images for those pieces every day on the dice.  Interchange the remaining faces of the dice with other review pieces and change them each day.

For Book Graduation Prep:

Change up the faces of the dice every day.  If a song didn’t go very well, leave it on the dice until it is smooth.

Review Traps for Parents

You cannot get sick of a song!  The last thing we want to teach our children is that something can get boring if it’s played too much.  Try and keep that love of repetition going as long as you can by not mentioning that you are sick of listening to a song or playing a song or especially hearing your child play a song.

Don’t let your child play the same mistake over and over again!  It may be a song they learned ages ago and at the time there were no hiccups or strange fingerings but over time something might have cropped up.  Fix the problem in isolation before it is repeated over and over in review.  If there is a problem it should not go on the dice.  It will take double the effort to fix something after it has been in review mode and repeated so don’t wait!