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.