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Yamaha Method
Suzuki Method
Alfred's Basic Prep Course
Pace's Music for Moppets

Preschool-age Beginners
(age 4-6)

During the last two decades, educational psychology and medical science have been providing an abundance of research information and opinion about how music could remarkably improve young children's learning. Parents, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly involve their children in enrichment activities, so that the early years of their children's development are not wasted. All of these contribute the fact that children are starting their music learning as early as at age 3 or 4.
Children between age 4 and 6 have a relatively short attention span and their physical coordination is not mature enough to tolerate some certain piano techniques yet. So, in my opinion, the teacher should provide them the music education of complete musicianship rather than trying to train them to become a virtuoso. Therefore, their music lessons should include a variety of activities including rhythm exercises, music appreciation, reading games etc..

Yamaha Method:

The Yamaha education system was found in the 1950s in Japan and introduced to the United States in 1965. The Yamaha teaching philosophy emphasizes the study of music as a training in the basic musicianship rather than the study of performance on a particular instrument. The Yamaha teaching focus the primacy of experience, particularly that of the ear. The beginning student learns to express rhythmic technique through the whole body movements and singing. The Yamaha education system has complete courses for the students of all ages. The class is in group setting of 6 to 12 students:

The Junior Music Course(JMC) is designed for children age 4-6. JMC is a two-year program. It includes four volumes of books. Each book was designed to be completed in six months. The classes is 50-minute in length and meet once a week. Parent's precipitation is monetary so that they can tutor their child at home.

JMC includes several activities in each book:

Students will have solid ear training through the two years. The students who graduated from this course is encouraged to create their own music. They will have complete musical foundation, rather than just keyboard playing. Because of the group setting, Children have the opportunity to perform for others on a weekly basis, thus they learn to feel ease when playing for others. Moreover, students are more motivated then those merely taking private lesson.

Since Yamaha is not a piano method, rather a complete music course, students will not have solid piano technique.

The Yamaha books and the knowledge of teaching can only be gained by enrolling in a Yamaha teacher-training program. Yamaha teachers need to pass Yamaha grade examination and be trained by Yamaha in order to be certified to teach. Also, Yamaha materials cannot be purchased except through Yamaha schools.
Click here for more information about Yamaha Education System.

Suzuki Method:

The Suzuki method, originated in Japan, is designed to teach instrumental performance, even at the very young ages. Unlike Yamaha method, Suzuki approach focus on the teaching of a single child, although the parent and other children may also be present at the lesson. However, Suzuki also has the group performance to serve as an opportunity for repertoire and performance reinforcement but not group activity as in Yamaha.

Suzuki method concentrates on development of the ears. Children learn by first listening, then repetitive copying, and only then learning to read and write the notation.
There are six volumes of the Suzuki Piano School, but only volume 1 is considered here as for preschool. The entire volume one is taught by rote. Since Suzuki method depends heavily on training the ear, recorded performances supplement most of the printed materials. Teachers usually begin to teach music reading after the student has completed the first volume. The music reading is always easier than that which the student is currently performing.

Although the Suzuki piano books are easily available to anyone, the books themselves provide no information how to teach. In order to learn the Suzuki approach to the piano teaching, one must attend workshops and teacher training courses.

Strength: This method exposes little ones to a very positive performance opportunities.
Weakness: Because the lack of the sufficient training for the Suzuki teachers, many American-trained Suzuki students are often cannot read music, depend too much on playing by ear, and can lack a strongly developed technique.

Alfred Basic Prep Course:

Alfred Prep Course, Lesson Level C

The Alfred's Basic Prep Course is designed for students age 5 and up. It includes six levels:

levels A, B, C, D, E and F. It is meant for about three years of study for the average students.
The material contains theory books, activity & ear training books, solo books, sacred solo books and Christmas Joy.

Strengths:The full-color and lovable pictures and graphics really attract youngster's attention. Alfred uses the familiar tunes to promote student's interests of learning. Also, the large print helps the young student to read. The well preprogrammed lesson format is great for beginning teachers to follow.

Weaknesses: The Alfred method uses the concept of position playing that students sometimes do not learn to read the notes, but rather rely totally on position playing. Therefore, they cannot easily learn a piece of music that is not written in a Five Finger Position. Also, students have no opportunity to explore the multiple key learning in the early stage.

Pace's Music for Moppets:

The Pace method has three books for preschool children and kindergartners:
* Music for Moppets
* Moppets' Rhythms and Rhymes
* Kinder-Keyboard

Music for Moppets can be used for group private teaching. However, the method is originally designed for group instruction (6-12 children recommended) in 45-minute classes twice a week, along with 45-minute orientation sessions for the parents twice a month. The parents are not present during the children's classes, but are strongly encouraged to participate in the child's home practice.
This book teaches about the piano, as well as musical concepts such as high and low, question and answer, pentatonic scales, and melodic lines. Students play on both black and white keys. Attention is drawn to directional reading. All pieces are taught by rote.
The Moppet's Rhythms and Rhymes and Kinder-Keyboard books may supplement Music for Moppets to provide fun and reinforcement.

Strengths: Students are explored to multiple keys in this very early stage so their experiences are not limited. This book also provides play-a-story pages to encourage creativity and free expression of musical thoughts.
Weaknesses: The books are very highly organized, but it requires teacher to read the teacher's manual carefully and thoroughly in order to understand the philosophy of the books and how to teach the musical concepts.

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