If you can find a small rubber ball, have Maria hold it in her fingertips and squeeze it - one finger with her thumb at a time at first, then a couple fingers, then all her fingers. Keep all the knuckles bent - even the ones between the finger and hand. It one collapses, stop squeezing and start over. I found a ball about 1 1/2 or 2 inches in diameter that has little spikes all over it so it is easy to hold anywhere without the fingers slipping off, so works really well. It also lights up when bounced!
I am also a violinist and as a child with really small hands, this was an exercise that I had to do to strengthen my fingers in order to hold down the violin strings properly. After awhile, my mother referred to my fingers as "fingers of steel".
I am glad that Hellene mentioned playing two keys with a bent thumb. I was going to mention that as well, but then noticed the third chord - the C, F, A - that really is beyond Maria's reach I think. Sometimes - and this is something I had to do - you can reach a note by touching the key with the thumb on the front rather than from the top. I hope I am making sense.
Thank you, Karla, for the suggestion about the ball. We don't have any that small, but I saw somewhere a suggestion about filling a small balloon with soft play-doe and using that to squeeze. It sounds like fun so I thought I would give that a try too!
She has been keeping up with her practice and faithfully writing it all down. I just have to take pictures of her papers and get them posted! Besides working with Soft Mozart, she also listens to Brill Kids Little Musician with her little sister nearly every day. They listen to and recognize several composers and titles of songs. She really has a hard time with clapping on a beat or keeping time. Is there anything you recommend to help with that. She does play the Note Duration game, but I don't notice a significant difference in her ability to keep time.
Here are her "lessons" for the month of February and March.
She also has started playing all of these songs in P4 and P5. She also likes to play some songs that she is not really practicing, just for fun and doesn't write those down! She loves the challenge and this is a great program!