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Learn the language of music

I can’t seem to get my mind and body to cooperate in writing words these days. If I pass the piano, there is an unexplainable, uncontrollable urge to sit down and let my fingers caress the black and white ivories creating amazing sounds — melodies, harmonies, rhythmic patterns and more.

There are so many different spoken and unspoken languages — English, Spanish, French, German; love, pain, power, fear; and then there is music.

Right now I seem to be speaking and hearing music. Even though not many people will ever hear or read my little black dots sprinkled on the lined page, I can hear them in my head and on my computer. My program, Finali, willingly translates my ideas into music notation and translates ideas into the language of whatever instrument I wish to hear it played.

I am so thankful for sounds and hearing and the marvelous language of music.

How many piano dropouts do you know? How many people do you know who have taken piano lessons? How many people do you know who enjoy playing piano in their adult life? What happened to all those piano dropouts? Was it the cost of lessons? The dedication of parent to encourage the young student? The interest of the learner in the first place? Was it no fun and not really important?

Or perhaps there is a basic misunderstanding of how children learn? Think about the way a child learns to talk — lots of imitation of sounds, experimentation and encouragement.

Then come words, phrases and eventually sentences and lots of bright-eyed parents giving positive feedback. Discovering, imitating and experimenting with sounds comes long before words.

With learning to play piano I think there first has to be a period of real play, a time of discovery and appreciation for the instrument and what it can do. Perhaps the magic in the piano and its music is obscured or totally dulled by jumping to the reading stage before entering the fun stage of discovery.

What if once the student begins piano lesson assignments of practicing included not only exercises to build finger strength and coordination but also the challenge to discover, create and replicate familiar tonal patterns, as in “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star?”

Then after these basic babbling skills have been developed reading music using circles on lines and spaces might not be quite such a daunting task. I firmly believe there should be more fun in learning to play the piano.

Jeanie Oakleaf Anderson is a member of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.



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