Why I’m an advocate for Play-Based Learning

When I started teaching private music tuition, heaps of parents would come to me with their 5 or 6 year old children and say: “We want them to learn piano.”

Learning piano is hard. You have to sit on the chair, not fall off the chair and concentrate for half an hour. Not to mention the fact that most of that half-hour lesson is spent being told which piano key to put your finger on and then trying to attempt to repeat a pattern you have been shown. Throw in all the cognitive function that must take place and the fine motor skills that must be present to perform the way we want them too and you can start to understand why I don’t believe this type of music class to be the best first musical experience.

But then I went and learnt a lot more about play-based learning. I quickly realised how it is a much better method than the traditional music lesson when it comes to music education. I was finally able to merge being a big-music-nerd with a style of learning that works for almost every kid I have worked with.

The whole idea of making music is about hearing it in your head first

We use whole-song method in our music classes. It’s all about moving your bodies, engaging all the parts of your brain and having lots of choice when and if the child is comfortable in doing so. It’s about making music rather than moving your fingers and being able to count. That other way of musical instruction is not necessarily developing musical intelligence. It’s a logical reasoning experience but it’s not really a musical one.

Play-based learning is a much more musical, creative process.

I want to help children develop musically

When you think about it, practicing a new skill or doing something for the first time is a real challenge. We often expect children to pick things up, commit to their learning and struggle through all the self-esteem issues that come with trying something new. Would we ask that of ourselves as adults so readily? When was the last time you decided to learn something and set aside an hour a day to practice for several years? My guess is that it was as a child when you were faced with pressure from adults.

My mission is to help children love music and for them to continue to choose to have it in their lives.

Not for a term of piano lessons, not because their parents have purchased an expensive instrument so now they have to stick with it. But because they genuinely view music as something that brings them joy and pleasure, built on a foundation of play-based learning.

I still offer private tuition but not until the child can feel the beat and sing the song. can put the beat in their body and sing tunefully. That’s when I believe they are ready for more theory and music reading.

Until then, let’s keep playing together and foster a love of music that will last a lifetime!

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