Thank-you so much for the Christmas gifts. It was wonderful to see the children so happy to be giving the cards and gifts they brought.
By researching how children learn naturally and optimally we can provide the best environment and instruction to develop and expand children’s ability to learn.
Dr. Suzuki named his school “Talent Education Institute” because of his realization and belief that all children with the right environment can learn music and develop “talent”, or ability. In his book Where Love is Deep Dr. Suzuki says about the word “talent”:
Ability education is the development of life ability-or talent at life. I use the phrase core education to refer to the same thing. The definition of the word core is: ” the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.” It is learning that enables the ability to learn which is the essential part of education. This is why I use the term “core education”
Developing talent involves preserving and nurturing the natural way children learn from birth. It is through their sensibilities that children learn. In her book Sensibility and Education, Dr. Kataoka says:
Whole learning is a process of ingesting the environment/concept all at once in an intuitive way.
It is the same principle that Dr. Kataoka refers to in learning through the senses rather than only the intellect. Children learn through touch, sound, intuition. We remember smells from our childhood that bring back vivid memories.
Babies and children learn through absorption of the total environment rather than part by part. This is also sometimes called ”right-brain learning” Whole learning is a better way to describe this absorption as it involves the right brain (learning through the senses/intuition and left brain (analytical) types of learning working together.
Whole learning is a concept which means that the child has a grasp of a concept without necessarily knowing the details or even being able to produce anything. It is this type of learning that enables a person to perceive what is going on without necessarily being able to actually say in words what is happening. In learning language, babies are absorbing the environment and understand long before they are able to articulate. Children in general understand feelings even when they do not know exactly what is being said.
So, “knowledge” in this way is not really measurable. Students who learn primarily this way may not always do well on a test. However, given a practical situation they may be able to cope with the problem solving issues that another student going by the textbook answers would be unable to solve. This is how a person can be in a completely foreign country where they do not speak the language,yet be able to communicate and act appropriately without ever learning the customs or being told the protocol.
Contrast this with how a person can grow up to be completely unaware of how other people are thinking/feeling/perceiving, or unable to make good judgments. We see this in real life all the time and wonder how to educate children to make wise judgments in the complexities of day to day reality.
In music study, it is being able to understand and speak the language of music without necessarily knowing what a dotted quarter note is or the actual definition of all those Italian terms. Of course this knowledge is important. However, the child who learns holistically can play freely without the burden of too much thinking in the way.
The principle of skill development or sequence learning is the aspect of learning that develops ability. It is the principle that the most fundamental aspect in a child’s learning must always be addressed rather than focusing on the content of what is being learned. This is the balancing concept of whole learning and involves understanding of learning in relationship to sequencing and the development of ability through the acquisition of foundation skills. It is step by step that one can execute an ability whether it is playing piano, tennis, math or any endeavor that involves skill development. Without this we become a society of people that have knowledge, but fail to actualize that knowledge into ability.
Dr. Suzuki says:[box] “We may be able to say in an adult life, in many cases, is a life in which one cannot practice what one knows to be good.” [/box] So, we are always balancing whole learning where the person has an overall sense of the situation and learns freely/naturally with sequential learning where the ability to do something is developed with day to day practice and diligence.
In relation to the children’s learning at this point in time:
Whole Learning: Continue to have listening on all day even as the holiday is busy and there may be less actual focus time at the piano. Sing solfege in the car with the disc. This absorption or internalization of the pieces is the “ready” for playing the melodies which we will begin after the holidays. To help your child learn holistically, allow them to experiment with finding the notes to the new pieces without any assistance. Allow the child to make mistakes without any judgment, but as a natural part of the learning process the way we know a baby will take a step and then fall down. Be careful not to give too many verbal instructions.
Sequential Learning/Skill Development When we are assigning spot practice we are using sequential steps to build ability. This is the Twinkles with “ready-go” part of the practice right now and occupies most of the practice at this point. To help students in sequential learning continue to write down the specific points from the lesson and mark off the assignment sheet with the sticker to show that the assignment is completed as assigned. Also give specific affirmations such as “When you moved your finger the sound/tone was really good.”
*Please be sure in the ready position on thumb that the fingers are relaxed and not closed in a tight position. When the fingers are tight and the thumb plays there is a strong tendency to then put the thumb over top of the fingers when going to the next finger-finger #4. (Try it) The thumb should never be over top of the fingers or else the fingers are unable to move when it is their time to play.
As parents and teachers we have the response ability to provide the environment for whole learning, and the structure to enable sequential learning and develop life ability.
The holidays are a wonderful whole learning experience for children.