Monthly Archives: December 2012

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #2: Piano lessons? Too Young? Too Old?

Many times during my career as a piano teacher, I’ve been asked, “Is my child too young to start piano lessons?” “Am I too old to start piano lessons?” “How old was the youngest and oldest person you’ve taught?” I’ve seen many answers to these questions and now, I’m going to add my “two-cents”!

On the young side of the equation, I use the ages of three and four as my general guidelines for accepting students. The youngest child I’ve personally started was four.

Fact: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart started piano around the age of three!

Fact: Glenn Gould started piano around the age of three!

Fact: Keith Jarrett started piano around the age of three!

Fact: Three, just as a number, is not too young to try piano lessons. It’s been done successfully!

Don’t underestimate your kid(s) or “sell them short”! Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching several very young multi-lingual children whose minds were able to deal with the complexities of learning and speaking as many as three languages, and keep them all separate! I say that their young minds are just as capable of handling music education and learning to play the piano or any other musical instrument since these types of musical activities will only further enhance their brain’s capabilities!

There arest_brain_music_photo a number of “official studies” and articles that have documented the many benefits of music education on the minds and development of young children. A Google search string like “music education benefits” will give you as many as 328,000,000 results. Any of the resulting returns will stress the importance involving your children with music ed at an early age!

Young children are very smart and if you put them in an environment where they can have lots of fun while they’re learning, they’re more likely to develop and retain self-motivated practice and study habits. So give your kid a chance to try it as early as possible because it might work!

Now! On the other side of the equation, I do not accept any such notion of anyone being “too old” to start taking piano lessons. In the first week of this month (December 2012), I just accepted a beginner student who is in his eighties! That’s not a typo! I mean 80s as in EIGHTIES!

This gentleman has a quick-witted, razor-sharp mind and in each lesson so far, he has been “fired-up” and “ready-to-go!” He’s turning out to be a great student and I love working with him!  The benefits of music learning, that apply to our kids, also apply to our senior citizens! It keeps their minds active and young! I’ll have to include myself in the latter category!

So to everybody who is between 3 and 103, I’ll just quote a Charlie Parker song title that expresses my view on this whole subject matter most succinctly and say, “Now’s The Time”.

If you have an interest in piano, I say, “Go for it!” If anyone you know displays or has an interest in learning piano I say, encourage them to “check it out!” Have them try it with any teacher like me who likes to have fun because having fun while you’re learning makes learning fun!

Hey! Speaking of fun…If your web browser or viewer is Flash-capable, try playing along with this one-note song I wrote for my beginner students.  “One-Track Mind” is one of 18 original songs you’ll find in a book titled, “1-8 Note Songs”, which is available in my online store.

When you click the the play button just under the speaker icon, the speaker will start vibrating and you’ll hear eight (8) drum tick beats as a count-in to get you ready for the up-coming action. On the ninth beat, the song will start and you’ll see a red square that will outline each note as it moves through the song.

Your mission, should you decided to accept it, is to play play “MIDDLE C” using your piano or MIDI keyboard, or the Art’s Corner interactive two-octave keyboard to play along with the music and stay in exact synchronicity with the song’s melody! Just follow the red box! If you want a short visual example of what to do, go to my Art’s Corner Profile Video and advance the play head to about the 1:55 mark to watch Anthony and his dad play a short excerpt. If you’re beyond beginnership, you might try rhythmically syncing the bass notes and/or some harmony notes to the red box.

Anybody remember Mitch Miller?

Play via MIDI file (avec melody) Play via MIDI file (sans melody)

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Well have fun, have a great week and I’ll write you again soon in my next AC#3 post. Happy practicing! Art

 

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC #1: Here Comes Art’s Corner!

TheSchool

Hi. I’m Art Matthews and music has always been a very central and important part of my life. My father, Dr. Artie Matthews Sr. (1888-1958), was my first piano teacher, and because of him, I fell in love with ragtime, blues, jazz and classical music. Not only did I hear all of this music on 78 records and the technology of his day like wire recorders, I heard it played live at home and at our music school which he founded in 1921.

 

Dadandme-01A Here, I’m about to take a lesson and it looks like Mozart is coming up next. I learned the importance of study, practice and patience at a very early age. Rudiments, reading, repertoire and study are four of the main pillars upon which I was taught to base my musicianship. I learned the importance of developing a solid “left hand” which is required to play authentic ragtime music.  “Hey dad, which one of these notes is Middle C?” (:-)

 

Like my dad, I have dedicated the larger portion of my life to being a music educator and performer. Although I am now retired, I’m still actively involved in online music education by conducting live, truly interactive, face-to-face piano and music lessons with students from around the country and around the world via the Internet.

Come back soon to view the updated version of the video that used to be here. In the interim, here is my most current profile video.

Hey! I’ve gotta’ do something to keep my sanity, don’t I? Or maybe it’s too late!

Anyway, “Art’s Corner” is where you’ll find me posting and sharing my views and opinions on things related to piano lessons/practice and music education. I intend to keep things light, informative, and fun with such things as an occasional “Silly Games” contest where you can win a silly prize! Sound like fun? Then follow me. Please subscribe and watch for Art’s Corner #2 coming soon!