Piano pedagogy for four- and five-year-olds : an analysis of selected piano methods for teaching preschool children
Thomas-Lee, Paula Marie
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The purpose of this study was to analyze nine early childhood piano methods designed for teaching the beginning four- to five-year-old piano student and to determine whether or not they included the elements which researchers and practitioners deem necessary for an age-appropriate comprehensive music program. The research questions examined in this study were 1) to determine which methods are currently available for teaching piano to the younger child; 2) to determine whether or not these programs include the ageappropriate elements that researchers consider essential for early childhood musical development such as playing instruments (the piano), singing, moving, creating, and aural skills development; 3) to determine the variety of styles of repertoire found in each series; and 4) to determine whether or not parental involvement was discussed in these methods. Criteria for selecting preschool piano methods were methods which 1) were specifically designed for the four- and five-year-old beginning student; 2) were currently in print; 3) and were recommended in James Bastien’s (1988) How to Teach Piano Successfully and Marienne Uszler’s (2000) The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher. Thus, the methods which met these criteria were Music for Little Mozarts (1999-2000) by Barden, Kowalchyk, and Lancaster, Invitation to Music (1993-1994) by Jane, Lisa, and Lori Bastien, Prep Course for the Young Beginner (1988-1989, 1993) by Palmer, Manus, and Lethco, Piano for the Young Beginner (1987) by James Bastien, Sing and Play (1987) by Collins and Clary, Music Readiness Series (1984) by Glover, Glasscock, and Stewart, Mainstreams Primer Method (1977) by Cory, Music for Moppets (1971)and Kinder-Keyboard (1977) by Robert and Helen Pace, and The Very Young Pianist (1970, 1973) by Jane Smisor Bastien. A Data Sheet for Review of Preschool Piano Method Books was developed which focused on the key elements considered necessary for preschool music programs. Data were analyzed using frequency counts, and percentages of each element were calculated. The data showed that each piano method focused on one or more of the key elements; however, no single method contained similar percentages across elements. Researchers should continue to investigate the most effective proportion of these key elements in teaching preschool piano students.
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