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Parental Support

How can parents assist further to enhance their child’s musical experience?
There are many ways that parents can get involved and play a proactive role in their child’s musical development.

For example, listening to music is always highly recommended especially for music students. There are many resources to look for music to listen to. For example, you can visit your local music retail shop and look for CD’s or DVD’s, concerts to get for your child to look and listen.

The radio is another source where you can get access to a lot of music, old and new. There is also MTV on the television as well as music from the Internet. Internet today has resources for lots of music; especially Internet radio and they are all available 24 hours a day.

If uncertain, you may consult your child’s music teacher to get recommendations or advice. Or you may ask your child what he or she prefers. Perhaps they may have an idea of what they like. So, bring your child to the music retail outlet and let them choose.

Let you child see and hear music being performed live. This is one of the most exhilarating experiences for anyone, whether you are learning music or not.

Allowing your child to participate in musical events, for example, their music school’s annual concert or their piano teacher’s annual concert or music clubs in their schools, or music camps, or recital events that’s being held publicly.

Starting Music Lessons

What to expect during your first few lessons?
Primarily, there are two areas of focus, which is theory and practical. For theory, you will be learning the basic fundamentals of music to be able to read and write music. This is very important because when you can read music, all the printed music that is available out there is accessible to you. For practical, it simply means that you will also start learning to play a musical instrument of your choice.

Besides theory and practical, are there other music reinforcement activities?
Yes, there are. It is very important to include ear training and rhythmic activities. These add to the students overall development.

How do these help and what is involved in these reinforcement activities?
Ear training consists of an assortment of activities to help enhance the student’s musical mind to analyze music, to perform music and to create music.

Singing is a part of ear training. Singing intervals and short passages helps with accuracy in musical pitch. It also helps with musical phrasing and musical feel. There are students who eventually are capable of acquiring perfect pitch from singing and ear training activities.

Besides, developing your voice from singing may result in you being a brilliant vocalist in the future. You will never know!

Rhythmic activities are equally important. For example, these are exercises involving clapping short passages or long passages. This will help you understand rhythm. This will also help you develop good tempo and good pulse, which is very important for playing music.

Would every teacher subscribe to the same syllabus?
Well, every teacher must have his or her own teaching syllabus. Although every teacher subscribes to the fundamental syllabus involving theory and practical, there are teachers out there who may include other activities in their lessons. And these varies from teacher to teacher based on their own personal experiences.

Card Games Made Easy Holiday Workshops

Last December, I conducted two holiday music workshops for toddlers and pre-school kids separately at the Junior Scholars Kids' Garden. It was two mornings of fun musical activities with them.

The first session was for toddlers (3 and 4 years old) while the second session was for pre-school kids (5 and 6 years old). The workshop for both groups are based on the Card Games Made Easy program.

Other than singing, music and movement, and rhythmic activities, the pre-schoolers in particular were involved in an additional segment that requires them to create a simple composition using the cards. This is to encourage the kids and let them feel that they can create simple music at such a young age, and without any music knowledge.

Other than musical activities, the young kids also participated in a drawing and coloring segment, which is very interesting as it allows us to see their world and thoughts through their eyes and minds.

It is always very encouraging when we see kids who are eager to participate in our activities and clamoring to answer our musical quizzes.

The end result is to let the kids experience the joy of making music through the Card Games Made Easy activities. In this program, we strive to let the kids feel that they have the potential for music.

I think the defining moment is when we perform their compositions for them. Many may not realize the virtuous impact music has on a developing child. Therefore, we seek to help inculcate interest in music on the kids.

Here are some photos of the event.

Reflections on the Medan Musik Camp 2009

This was my second visit to Medan in Sumatera, Indonesia by invitation of Medan Musik to conduct some workshops at their music camp. It was well attended by their students, teachers and a few parents numbering a hundred and fifty in total. Brastagi, where the music camp was held is an ideal location as it is a quaint hilly resort not too far from the city where one can enjoy the cool temperate climate.

The students seemed eager to learn and know more about other music genres. Therefore, introducing and initiating them into jazz music (at their request) was appropriate. Of course, a few of them have heard a bit of jazz and the style that they like is fusion jazz.

So, we listened to, and talked about the various other styles in jazz from traditional to modern. I reckon that after that session, some of them would take the initiative to gain an appreciation in jazz music.

I was very encouraged by the attendees who showed much enthusiasm participating in the workshop activities. They were very attentive throughout the entire day’s various workshops and responded well during the quiz and interactive sessions.
The recital later that evening featured all the students performing pieces of their choice ranging from classical to contemporary. There were also duets performances that added much color to the evening’s recital. Congrats to all the teachers for preparing their students to perform, which they did well.

In all, I had a truly great time and would like to extend my sincere thanks to the management, staff, teachers, students and parents of Medan Musik for making my stay memorable and enjoyable.