I recently bought a Yamaha Clavinova CLP-635, which is an awesome digital piano. Using SM with it is almost like a completely new experience. There is, however, one strange problem: As soon as I connect headphones (in order not to disturb my neighbours) and run GP, the only sound output I am able to get is a mysterious mix of harpsichord and Honky Tonky piano! Classical pieces sound really fun when played like that. All other instruments, including the default ones, seem to be blocked.
I have tried many settings on the piano, but the problem won't disappear. I have also tried all combinations of settings in the SM tuning software, but it won't go away. The problem only appears with this combination, i.e. headphones and SM.
Any ideas? What could be wrong here?
First, a general disclaimer to all those who have commented (wisely) in this thread: It has become popular nowadays to call upon neuroscience in order to support one’s claims, for better or for worse. Neuroscience is sometimes mistreated. I’m not saying that this is the case here, nor am I making any accusations, however one should be cautious about the popularisation of this science. To take but one example, there are many scientific articles showing the benefits of using a soroban to strengthen mathematical ability as well as memory. I don’t doubt the benefits of the soroban, but really, there is not enough scientific evidence to say that the soroban is a better way of learning than other methods, such as Mortensen, which some schools do.
The same thing would apply to music, or anything else. To sum up what is known by today’s neuroscience, the only scientifically proven way to make a child more “bright” (I’m using a very wide definition of the word here) is to increase working memory. (For academic research about this I recommend: cognitionmatters.org/ .) This can be done practicing with a musical instrument, with the soroban, educational toys or whatever. It really doesn’t matter that much. However, the effects that playing a musical instrument can have on a variable such as self-esteem is another matter. But I think we should all try not to use general phrases like “neural connections” or “neural pathways” in order to make some kind of statement. At least, we should be more specific.
To take one specific example: Suzuki teachers say that not learning the right fingering from the beginning is comparable to hammering a nail deeper and deeper into a wall. The deeper the nail goes, the harder it will be to pull it out eventually. The teacher who said this is actually a medical doctor, however I don’t consider him an expert in muscle memory. Still, his statement sounds logical to me. As little as I know about piano playing, I think it would be possible to compare it with a person who is learning how to type on a typing machine or computer keyboard. Surely, this person could learn how to type very rapidly using only his/her index fingers, but eventually a need would probably arise for systematic fingering. I only learnt how to type rapidly using correct fingering when I was an adult, but since I had already been typing incorrectly for so many years it is still hard for me to use correct finger positions unless I am thinking actively about doing it. I am writing this text now using incorrect fingering, for instance.
Therefore, it would be very interesting to see what solid, peer-reviewed, scientific papers have to say about muscle memory. Is there enough support for the claim that little children could start by “playing around”, then switch to more correct fingering by learning from parents who have themselves learnt from Youtube videos or some other visual fingering system such as Yamaha’s Flowkey (which I would never try myself), without muscle memory putting up later obstacles for future performance?
If somebody could post links to peer-reviewed scientific papers in support of such a claim I would be grateful.
“Suzuki school is the worst thing that ever happened in music education. It heavily relies on muscle memory and echoic memory (Solfeggio) with no consideration to eye-sight. You mechanically learned the pieces upon finger numbers and after that had to re-learn everything again, because the music wasn't fully imprinted in your mind - just sequence of muscle movements. From outside it looks legid, but in reality it is your waste of time, money and efforts. Bottom line is: you didn't collect any valuable skills, but one complicated and absolutely useless skill to recite one piano piece with certain finger numbers… The eye-sight of any learner should be trained to sight-read notation, but Suzuki students have no opportunity to do that. When, after a lot of singing and mechanical playing they finally introduced to lines and spaces, they start memorizing piano pieces rather then sight-reading them.”
Yes, this is the most common criticism of the Suzuki method. This is also why I will continue to use SM (during the 1,4 year or so that I have left on my licence) in conjunction with Suzuki. Then we’ll see what works best. To repeat what I said before: I think SM/Gentle Piano is a great system, and you are of course right in what you say about visuals, multi-sensory learning etc. With a finger notation system in GP that could be turned on or off, SM could become the ultimate system: a flagship in musical education. Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be willing to introduce such a feature? Not even as a competitive advantage against Yousician, KinderBach, Flowkey, etc?
Forgive me for pointing this out, but I look at things as an economist. SM may be the incumbent on the market now, but it is very easy to get overrun. (Remember the story about the hare and the tortoise?)
To give you a good advice, you should pay more attention not only to competitors, but also to product innovation. If you did, crowdfunding/fundraising would also become easier. Somebody above *cough* *cough* has given you one tiny suggestion of a feature to introduce that would be easy and cost efficient and still have a big impact.
”Кстати, о Судзуки. В своей книге "Воспитание талантов" "Взращённые любовью" в одной из глав он удивляется, как так, все японские дети осваивают без проблем сложнейший язык в мире - японский! Выссказывает такую мысль:
"Если бы в школах применялась методика, схожая с обучением родному языку, то мы добились бы превосходных результатов. Например, часто приходится слышать: «Этот ребенок не блещет способностями, у него от рождения низкий уровень интеллекта». Но как же тогда соотнести это высказывание с блестящими способностями ребенка в освоении японского языка? Может быть, лучше поискать более подходящий метод обучения?"
Вот в этом месте я подумала: "как же близко он здесь к методу Хайнер". Азбучный подход при обучении музыкальному языку - и соответственно, результаты не заставляют себя ждать!)”
Soglasen s vami! Overall, I don’t understand why there is so much hatred against the Suzuki method. I even remember having a violin teacher when I was in my twenties who always used to complain about the “bloody Suzuki shit method”. And then, more recently, there is the O’Connor criticism of Suzuki. I haven’t had the time to dig further into O’Connor’s criticism, but I understand much of it has been refuted already? Maybe Ms. Hiner could help us out and write something about it?
But all of this has many dimensions, of course, and I think, just like you, that the Suzuki and Hiner method have many things in common. One philosophically interesting aspect is the “what is music and what is noise?” question/problem by Ms. Hiner. Humanoid robots who can play the piano have been available for some time, especially in Japan, and they are getting better and better due to advancements in AI and digitalization. Still, we call Suzuki students, who are sometimes accused of playing like robots, virtuoso’s, but we call robots…well…robots. Can a robot play with “feelings”?
Another aspect when comparing various systems of music education for children is peer pressure. Having friends and playing in a group environment is definitively very important for them. There are no SM schools in my country, unfortunately. However, there are Suzuki schools. It is possible that my daughter is going to like the Suzuki method better because of this even though she is used to SM, who knows? Only time will tell. For sure, this is going to be an interesting experiment.
"Fingering can be different for people of different age. The worst thing about it also is that it is 'Pandora box' for abuse. Teachers/parents have little to know understanding how skills are getting build and how attention span is being delivered, but they start pushing a beginner, especially child to use 'right fingers' to add more stress to his/her muscle system. After that people have phantom pains for life time (and I am not talking about scars on their self-esteem). Enough nonsense already! Beginners develop fingers management. It is natural process. The fingers management develops organically. Give me the numbers that your child gets after playing a song and I will tell you, is your child ready for this step."
You didn't quite answer my original question. I still don't understand why a child should first learn to play a piece using his/her own fingering and then, when a certain score has been reached in GP, be "deprogrammed" and start to learn the correct (=most efficient) fingering. This simply doesn't make sense to me. If correct fingering is subjective, and if there were no such thing as a more efficient fingering, then how come many piano books change fingering between editions? One prime example of this is Suzuki's piano school books. Talent Education has been using the same songs throughout the years, but fingering has changed - to the better. I have experienced this myself. When I bought a new edition of the same book, I had to relearn some pieces, but it was actually easier to play them that way.
So, I guess that by trial-and-error, and by scientific evaluation, music professors change fingering in their song books because there is a reason for doing that?
I don't understand what abusive parents, chasing their children with violins or bending their fingers, have to do with this. This is the parent's problem, isn't it?
" The historical fact is that most of the composers before second part of XIX century played 'bad' not touch sensitive instruments. Bach, Mozart, Hayden even Schubert didn't have any idea, what fortepiano - real fortepiano with all the functions is."
Stradivarius violins, i.e. really good instruments, were available long before that. Some of the composers must have at least listed to those. But let's say that most composers played "bad" instruments (compared to ours), or actually quite good instruments for the time in which they lived. In those days, such instruments were the standard, and if they didn't differ much between them, then what is the problem? There simply weren't many else to compare with.
Even if those instruments weren't touch sensitive, at least they didn't have light-weight plastic keys like modern keyboards do. This is a big difference, I think. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I figure it would actually be easier to switch from the cembalo to the fortepiano than from a cheap keyboard to a touch sensitive piano?
"Haha, you compare completely different things that have no common ground. Lines and spaces of Grand staff came from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_of_ArezzoGuido's fingers."
Ah, okay. Sometimes it is a bit difficult to know what you are referring to since Soft Mozart is a mix of so many different things. You have said that it is based on Montessori, too, so I thought this was the case here. Still, this particular issue may be confusing for some Montessori children who play instruments.
I'm not questioning your background. As a matter of fact, I probably know better than most Westerners that university education in "my second home country" (Ukraine) has a high standard. This is especially true for the mathematical sciences, but also for music. To be honest, I even have a PhD from a NIS/CIS country myself. People often ask me how I could be such a jackass (or even kamikaze pilot...) to enter aspirantura there when I already had my Master's degree with good grades from a good Western university. The main reason I did it was because I considered the benefits stemming from the quality of education (especially in mat. modelirovanie) to be higher than the costs of corruption and red tape.
[Here, it should be said that I certainly do not recommend any sane person from a rich Western country to study in Ukraine without having consular or political contacts beforehand, as I did. He or she will most likely be seen as a wandering wallet: extorted, blackmailed for bribes and "eaten alive" by faculties, departments and authorities.]
...which brings us to the point: Everything in this world - be it higher education in Ukraine or the Soft Mozart package - carry costs and benefits; advantages and disadvantages. Soft Mozart is a great system. Its biggests strength are the visuals, no doubt. The fact that it starts which solfeggio is also great. In many countries musical education doesn't start with solfeggio, which I think is bad.
But what I'm trying to say is the following: Gentle Piano would be the perfect system, even the ultimate one, if you could just add the finger notation feature in the software. If you did, the system would have everything. Therefore, for your own sake, I think this would be a very competitive and welcome improvement for many people. Without it, on the other hand, I personally would probably not be willing to extend my subscription for another three years when this one runs out.
The logic is as follows: In the Suzuki method, the parent plays the most important role when influencing the child how to play the piano. This is why Suzuki classes start with a course for parents, extending over a few months, before the child is even allowed to sit by the piano. As I understand it, this is your philosophy as well (Mozart and Leopold and all that...)? Here, I have to admit, I simply can't learn how to play the "higher" pieces in Gentle Piano (even some intermediate ones) without knowing which fingers to use. If I don't know this, then I won't be able to teach my child, and if my child doesn't show any progress because of this problem, then why should I pay for the software?
As for the keyboard issue: I personally think that the difference is enormous when playing on a digital piano with weighted ivory or wooden keys, and so does my daughter, obviously. Comparing such equipment with a cheap keyboard is like day and night. If a child plays on a cheap keyboard with plastic keys and bad sound/pitch that may even distort her ear for music for a few years and then switches to a good digital piano, I'm afraid it would be like a bad habit that might be difficult to wash away. (Here, I keep thinking about Suzuki's anecdote in "Nurtured by love" about the nightingales they train from birth in Japan: If the birds hear "bad" sounds they will sing badly themselves.)
Actually, I found a third issue with the SM educational program that I would like criticise as well (you may call me a stariy vorchun if you like... ): You teach children that "girls live on the black streets, boys live on the white streets". This you have adopted from Montessori. Or not. You see, the problem is that in Montessori, things are exactly the other way around: Girls live on the white streets. When my daughter, who attends a classical Montessori pre-school and has actually become a good flute/recorder player, was told that "Anna (A) lives on the second floor", which was white, she became quite confused. From Soft Mozart she had been told that the boys live there.
I doubled checked this with the Montessori teacher, who is probably one of the most experienced in my country, having worked as she has for over 40 years in traditional Montessori schools. And yes, that's the way it is taught. Therefore, my policy recommendation to you is that you simply change this, so that it would harmonize with the Montessori system.
While a good system, there are some flaws with Soft Mozart that need to be addressed and, if possible, mended.
First, the biggest drawback by far is that there are no superscripts or subscripts indicating which finger to use (i.e. finger notation) for the notes in the Gentle Piano system, as there are in traditional piano books - even Suzuki. I have written posts on this forum before about the fingering problem. For a layman - and probably for a child as well - you simply need clear directions. It is not sufficient to watch an instructional video on how to play a certain piece. I don't buy the argument that a child or an adult should "play" in order to learn how to play, and that correct fingering could come later, when a certain score (amount of points) has been achieved. Finger notation ("1", "2", "3" and so on) simply has to be present in every piece in Gentle Piano, and from the very beginning. Toddlers usually learn to recognise numbers 1-5 very early, by the way,
My recommendation is therefore that you add functionality for this in GP. Technically, this shouldn't exactly be nuclear physics. The user should be able to press a key on the computer in order to show or hide finger notation, which would appear beside every note, whether in solfeggio or not.
My second concern is your statement that one can begin with a cheap keyboard in order to learn how to play the piano (using the SM system). No, you can't. You simply can't. If you use a keyboard, then you learn how to play the keyboard. In order to learn how to play the piano you would need a digital one with at least graded hammer feature and "heavy" keys, such as one in the Yamaha Clavinova series. Connect such a piano to your laptop running SM and everything should be fine.
My recommendation is therefore that you remove the statement about cheap keyboards from your webpage.
While I am no musician myself and maybe not qualified enough to talk about this, I have been discussing the above issues with music professors, both traditional ones and Suzuki, and they absolutely agree.
My daughter was accepted to a Suzuki school (piano) the other day, which of course made me very happy. There is only one such school where I live. It is quite prestigious and they accept only very few children each year. Why my daughter was accepted remains a mystery. Maybe it actually was because I told them that she has been playing with Soft Mozart from an early age. At least I think so...
Now, the question is how one would be able to combine the Soft Mozart and Suzuki methods. Of course, I know that Hellene is going to say that Soft Mozart is a completely unique system etc, but I still find it worthwhile to create a thread on this forum where we could discuss differences and similarities between the two schools/methods. Maybe someone here has even tried them both out?
I personally would like to let my daughter continue with Soft Mozart when the Suzuki class starts this fall, but the question is, again, how easy or hard it would be to combine them both and how it should be done in the best possible way.
Now, my daughter, who recently turned 4, has made enormous progress. She plays most songs up to and including Grieg's Morning mood - with notes! There is just one very big (and maybe stupid) question on my behalf: When you start playing the piano, aren't you supposed to learn how to play with the right fingers from the very beginning? Because as far as I can tell, if one looks at all the videos/recitals published here, some kids play only with their index fingers while others play "correctly", and still others, like my daughter, already play well but not using the correct fingers as shown in the instructional videos.
Therefore, I think you should publish some kind of F.A.Q. "for dummies", where such basic questions are being answered. They are not easy for a non-musician to know the answer to. To a layman, it would seem that if one starts learning the piano with the wrong finger setting, or just let kids "fool around", as you recommend somewhere, it becomes more difficult to unlearn and play correctly later on? Or am I wrong?
In other words: should we just let the kids play the songs exactly as they want, not paying attention to the instructional videos except when the parents/adults themselves learn how to play a song?
Speaking of the latter: have any instructional videos ever been published for Favorite classics 0?
Thank you! You should become a graphic designer.
SharryHuang: Yes, that might seem like a good idea. I will try to build on that "recipe" of yours. Thank you.
By the way: Where did you get those stickers with BOTH letters and images on them? Maybe I will get them as well when/if I renew the subscription before February the 1st?
Elena: Spasibo bolshoe. I will try to upload some videos of my three year old daughter when I have time. But please tell me: Are there any step-by-step instructions for adults on the site when it comes to fingering? By this I mean: When you know how to play the basic position with your five fingers, where do you go from there? Hanon #1? And so on.
Also: If I renew/buy a basic package for 36 month, could I then download the song package for adults as well (containing Fur Elise etc.) or just the one for toddlers with Hot Cross Buns in it?
Now, at last, my daughter has actually begun to play with all fingers on the right hand properly, i.e. thumb for DO up to little finger for SOL (=basic position). However, the big question now is: Where do we go from here? I don't even know this myself. I feel completely confused about the various hanon exercises - not to mention Fingerobics 8, for example. (I saw that there is another thread on the forum about the "logic" behind Fingerobics 8, and I agree with the poster there...)
While the software/invention itself is excellent, I think one of your biggest problems except for proper price setting of the product is structure. There is simply too much information pulling in all directions at the same time. Please, Elena, in this case ('teach fingering to toddler') couldn't you do a simple step-by-step guide "for dummies", explaining what the next step is after the toddler can play from middle DO to SOL with proper fingers? For example: I find it hardly impossible to suddenly have her play lower DO with her little finger (as in some Fingerobics exercises) since she now "knows" that DO is equivalent to the thumb. She cries hysterically if I try to explain that DO can mean other fingers as well. And I understand her.
Therefore, I would really like to see some numbered/ordered guide when it comes to fingering. I know that there are Youtube videos on how you play each and every (hanon) exercise, but this is not enough I am afraid.
One step forward and two steps back for me at the moment... My daughter was playing Hot Cross Buns, French Song and Ode to Joy very well with her index finger when I wanted her to start playing with at least three. Then, however, she refused to let us hold her little fingers and show her how to play correctly, and she is still strongly refusing this, so I have no idea what to do. She starts yelling hysterically and jumps off the chair if we try this, and she is not interested in watching us play correctly with all fingers either. I really don't understand how people manage to have two and three year olds play the piano since toddlers of this age are not only obstinate but also in the "Do myself!"-stage of development. Is there any magic formula? Or just genetics?
What is much worse, ironically, is that she actually seems to listen to me and my wife when we tell her to play with more than one finger, but then she tends to mess everything up, playing with all fingers randomly and even with both hands on treble staff if we press the "R" button in Gentle Piano.
I saw this video that someone had published on the forum: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycWOts1NRG4 . Is it possible to download those hands from somewhere or do you have to make them yourself?
Some extra help would also be appreciated, because I really don't know what to do any longer. We try to use Soft Mozart with her every day, but this doesn't seem do help. And bribes/rewards...yes, they are plentiful!
Now, at last, things have started rolling! A few weeks ago, my daughter all of a sudden started playing Ode to Joy! This was the first piece she ever played, and I filmed it. (I will start a progress diary and upload the movie later on.) Ironically, she hated Mr. Oops, playing the Guess key game, and basically all other things proposed by you in the curriculum. But then I found out that she really loved the do-re-mi song from "Sound of Music". By now, she must have listened to it 300 times or so! Out of this, i.e. with the help of Julie Andrews, I finally managed to have her play the piano - and she was sure to start with her papa's favourite musical piece (except for Carmina Burana)!
By now, she is already playing the other pieces (Hot cross buns, French song etc.) quite well, but a new problem has appeared: the very topic of this thread. I am having the same problem as the thread starter here. During the last few weeks I must have tried everything in order to have her play with at least three fingers, but in vain. Showing her myself, trying to direct her fingers, showing your videos...nothing works. Even when I bribe her with ice cream she starts to cry when I ask her to play with three fingers. So what are parents having this problem supposed to do? As far as I understand, you are telling us that the problem will pass with age, as she enters a new stage in her development? But when exactly will this happen? Are we supposed to let her play Ode to joy, Hot cross buns and French song with her index finger every night for the next six months, or what?
In other words: Where am I supposed to go from here? How can I break this deadlock?
I have a daughter exactly the same age, and with similar problems. While she recognises all the flashcard notes, and loves listening to the do-re-mi song over and over again, it is really hard to have her concentrate on the piano/keyboard itself. She obviously is still in the exploration state and merely slams the keyboard with her fingers. So far, "Can you show me Do?" and similar things shown in the videos have not been successful. She isn't interested in arranging the flashcards either, simply telling me that it's "not funny".
While she is fascinated by Mr. Oops and the spider in the Guess Key game, she won't press the corresponding keys when the notes fall.
Any advice or maybe similiar experiences? Will my daughter become interested in the piano if she sits on my lap while I play, or something like that?
I have to add that she is otherwise a smart girl. Brillkids' products have had a positive influence on her, and she reads very well, for instance. So I don't know what could be wrong. Maybe I should just give it a few months and hope for improvement?