Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Some of you may recall that the boys play the violin.  The 24th of June will be their two-year violin "anniversary."  They are learning the violin in a very traditional way (Suzuki).  They have lessons every week and I make them practice nearly every day.  In our mostly-Montessori home ONE activity of that nature is plenty.  So, when Kal-El started begging to learn the piano in September I decided to take a different approach.  If you ever lurk on the Yahoo! group "Montessori Online" to read the bantering of the traditional Montessori classroom teachers you will see that they talk about the best way to handle "special" subjects (Spanish, music) quite frequently. The ideal "Montessori way" would apparently be to have the specialist teacher there at all times and the children would choose that work like any other work on the shelf.  The problem is that not every guide speaks a foreign language or plays the right instrument. Who can pay specialist teachers to be there along with the guides every day?  I can!  What's my secret?... I don't charge myself for my own services.  So, after it was demonstrated that Kal-El was serious about the piano, I put the books out on the piano and told him that I will give him "presentations" anytime and he can work with what I've shown him in the books whenever he wishes.  

How is that working out?  Kal-El plays the piano 3-4 times a week and asks me for "presentations" 1-3 times each week.  He has nearly finished the first set of books. He likes to write his own music and today he wrote down one of his songs using staff paper and traditional notation for the very first time. He has a little more to learn about bar lines and time signatures (he knows how to read them but didn't notate them) but my husband and I could both read it and play it which is pretty great for the first attempt.

The staff paper can be found on a great blog I love, Susan Paradis Piano Teaching Resources.  There are a few free staff paper generators online but I this was the ONLY place I could find staves this size.  Love it.  

On a similar note, Kal-El has been asking to start Spanish.  We started Spanish using a very similar approach about two weeks ago and have been having a lot of success.  Me Too has accidentally learned everything Kal-El has been learning on purpose.  

Will I switch violin to this approach?  No.  Playing an instrument is a physical skill that should be practiced daily...like exercising.  He is developing competence on the piano but not like he would if he played every day.  

Hopefully I will have a new Montessori music post soon.  I have had a new work on the shelf for a WEEK and haven't gotten the kids to accept a presentation yet.  Keep your fingers crossed!

If you are looking for more of my posts in my series on Montessori Music they can be found at the "Montessori Music" tab the top of my blog just below the header.


  1. This is great! My father plays the piano and like Me Too I accidentally learned a thing or two.

    Of course like you said learning to play a musical instrument you must practice everyday, which I didn't:( and so wish I had.

    I am curious to know what the new work on the shelf is!

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. How neat. Wish I knew how to play an instrument. D is so interested in learning an instrument but would not practice daily. We have one of those highlighted keys/teach yourself songs keyboard and so far it has been working out perfect for her as she can play her own songs. It even teaches the right fingers to use! Wish I could help her when she asks me questions!

  3. I love this idea of letting them compose their own music! My two oldest have been taking lessons for a little while (a couple months) and they both love it - I am NOT their teacher, but they do have access to the keyboard very close to where we do our 'school' and can basically practice whenever they like, unless, of course, the practice time is initiated to get OUT of something they should be doing! I will have to talk to their teacher about what they would have to know to begin learning to compose their own music - and what I can do to help them get there. Where do you get your staff paper?

  4. That is fantastic! I would love to know where you got the staff paper, too. Bear loves to compose her own songs (to get out of her daily piano practice) and would love to make them permanent. We just read a book called Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido D'Arezzo about the man who developed written music. Your boys might enjoy it. I just chanced upon it at the library.

  5. The staff paper can be found here: http://susanparadis.wordpress.com/tag/large-staff-paper/

    I used the "giant size" for now. I might try the smaller "large" size next week.

    I meant to put the link in the post but flaked.

  6. TGWPT,

    Thank you! I put hold on the the Do Re Mi book seconds after reading your comment.


    That sounds great! The boys haven't learned any notation from their violin teacher yet.. I taught them to read rhythm and pitch with Montessori materials. Of course, those topics are covered in the usual piano books as well. Does their piano teacher have them do a theory book as part of their lessons? I'm not saying she should, I'm just saying they might have a lot of the skills they need already.

    Mommy to the Princesses,

    It sounds like you find just the right fit. We have six professional musicians in our family so things are a little amped up around here. You know how some families are "soccer families" and some families are "baseball families"...we're the "music family."

  7. Thanks for this link. L has just started learning the flute and is starting composition for the bells so it was perfect timing for us!