Introducing Dogs and Birds, a wonderful way to teach piano to very young children. Yes, children as young as 3 years can learn piano through the Dogs and Birds method. I have found that 3.5 to 4 years is the lower limit for most children but some children are ready to start earlier.
As a piano teacher I am often frustrated at the lack of musical experiences shown by children when they start piano lessons. Children benefit enormously if they have some sense of beat and sing before they start learning piano. In Australia, unfortunately, it is rarely so. A generation ago children learned nursery rhymes on their mother’s knee, then they would watch Play School or Sesame Street and pick up songs which they sang as they played. My son at the age of 2.5 years would wake us up each morning by singing through his extensive repertoire of songs. I’m not sure why but it doesn’t necessarily happen any more and children often tell me that they don’t sing at home and seem surprised I asked. The consequence is that children are deprived of a happy occupation and source of comfort.
I’ve been teaching these basic music skills to very young children for a few years now, but Dogs and Birds has made me very excited, as it really does include everything to make our little people into fantastic musicians and give them a love of music to last their life. The method is ideal for children aged from 3 to 6 years.
How does it turn a three-year-old into a wonderful musician, and is it hot-housing?
- Dogs and Birds was devised by Elza Lusher, who is a native Hungarian and studied at the Liszt Academy in Hungary. In Hungary all students study solfege for at least a year before learning an instrument. When Elza moved to England she discovered that it was necessary to build musicianship into her piano lessons. Dogs and Birds was born. Ella has taught the method to children as young as 2.5 years, but recommends the method for children over 3. She has
taught groups in a Montessori nursery school with excellent results.
- The materials are beautiful and very appealing to young children. The pictures and stories are designed to capture the child’s imagination and excitement.
- Animal tiles and coloured staves significantly speed up learning notation. Children do not need to know letters or numbers, only colours.
- Children graduate from picture notes to traditional notation.
- Children sing as they play, reinforcing learning.
- Use of arm weight for first pieces ensures relaxed playing.
- Children acquire a good sense of beat and rhythm through activities and games.
- Imaginative play leads to sensitive playing.
- Children are learning the way they learn about everything, through a sense of fun and wonder. Parents do not need to push their children, so hot-housing it is not.
Early music experiences aid learning in many other areas, including reading and maths. This method is perfect for parents who are committed to giving their child the very best start in music. But I have some words of warning:
- This method needs a friendly and gentle approach. Parents need to be deeply interested and involved and be sure they understand what the child needs to do at home each week.
- The helper parent should assist with all home practice, never getting cross or forcing the child to practise. Dogs and Birds is a very enjoyable activity that small children will enjoy. It should be done every day but kept as fun.
- Although it is possible to learn with a keyboard, musicality is greatly enhanced if the child has a piano to practise on. Electric keyboards do not have the nuances and range of sounds that delight a small child.
Please contact us if you have a small child and feel that Dogs and Birds might be right for you.