I’ve recently written about the benefits of a preschool music class and how vastly different teaching preschoolers is from teaching older students. (Spoiler: I used to think preschoolers were mini elementary piano students who could sit on a piano bench for long periods of time!)
Once I became more enlightened about how to work with preschoolers, it became very clear that teaching preschoolers is an entirely different task than teaching elementary, middle and high school students.
So naturally, the goals of a preschool music class are going to look quite different from the goals that you would set for a beginning piano student.
For a beginning piano student, the goals you set will probably be very piano-centric: being able to play certain songs, learning how to read music, working through books, etc.
On the other hand, preschoolers have plenty of time to master those goals when they are older. For now, though, they have their own goals to work through.
Support In Reaching Child Development Milestones
Consider all of the skills that a child is going to need in order to be successful at the piano – coordination, fine motor skills, creativity, cognitive skills, listening, just to name a few. By the time a student is ready for piano lessons, these skills are already mastered, or at least practiced regularly. A preschool music class serves the purpose of helping children to develop these skills.
Every activity of a preschool music class should hone in on at least one child development need and address it. For example, movement-based activities help children develop coordination, gross and fine motor skills and become increasingly more complex as a child grows. Language and literacy activities support active listening and developing cognitive skills.
This may seem obvious, but a preschool music class should help families learn to love and enjoy music. If children learn to love music in their preschool music class, they will be eager to continue their music education when they are older.
Exposure to Musical Concepts
Most children in preschool music classes don’t have the fine motor skills and attention span needed to sit at the piano and focus on learning music in a traditional format. However, they are completely capable of learning many musical concepts that will transfer to piano lessons when they are older.
A few examples are:
- High and Low Pitches
- Notes Moving Up, Down or Repeating
- Steady Beat
- Loud and Soft
- Fast and Slow
If children are taught these concepts in the context of music, they will naturally apply them.
My daughter Sophie began attending my preschool music class when she was a baby. She had always been exposed to many different musical concepts. Shortly after she turned 2, we began learning the musical concepts in the song Hot Cross Buns. We practiced these concepts every week in music class, and one day, without prompting, Sophie sat down at the piano played the whole song.
It’s important to note that even though I’m a piano teacher, I had never sat down with her outside of class to show her how to play the song. She learned and applied the concepts on her own.
It has been so exciting for me to see this in action with all of my preschool music students. I wanted to share my process with other piano teachers. You can find simple instructions on how to break down the musical concepts of Hot Cross Buns in this free course. It teaches you 6 steps to follow with young children to help them learn music effectively.
Socializing and Relationship Building
Preschool music class might be a child’s first experience learning about a student/teacher relationship. This is key because it will help the students understand that a music teacher has authority, even if it very gentle and nurturing. They will learn their role as a student as they discover how to listen and follow directions.
Preschool music class is also a time for children to socialize and interact with other children and adults.
Creativity and Self Expression
Finally, preschool music class is a place for children to learn to be creative and express themselves. For many older students, playing the piano becomes an outlet for their creativity. It is a part of their identity. Young children will begin to get a taste for this in preschool music class.
If you’re craving more information on preschool music classes, click here to receive a free checklist: Components of a Successful Preschool Music Class.