Why, hello there . . . I’m a piano.
A month or so ago, our piano finally made it out of storage – aka my bedroom closet – and back to the place in the living room usurped by our Christmas tree. (I would like to reassure all the horrified members of the readership that our Christmas tree has long since been packed away. Two months ago, at least!)
Max and Charlie were so excited to have it back again! They played on it every day, all day. Any time they had a moment of down time one or both of them were over in the corner, playing a song I mentally labeled ‘Potato Masher.’ Since, in my head, my sons will one day be skilled pianists, I was pleased by their dedication. However, ‘Potato Masher’ began to wear on me. I decided that Max, at least, was old enough to learn a simple tune to play between mashups. (See what I did there? Hahaha.)
Max thought differently. He was more than willing to learn, but it was pretty clear that he couldn’t see any distinguishing features among the keys besides ‘black’ and ‘white.’ So, before both of us got frustrated, I devised an alternate approach.
Pooh can do it!
I cut a small piece of clear contact paper and applied it to the keys. Over that, I placed brightly colored stickers. The contact paper is theoretically to protect the keys from sticker residue. (My piano has plastic keys. I won’t vouch for what contact paper will do to antique ivories. Why is your kid learning to play on an expensive antique, anyway?) Each note gets a different color. We started with three notes – now we have five – and I may be adding more soon.
Next, I took a spiral-bound sketchbook and turned it sideways . . .
This one was $1.49.
. . . used a sheet of notebook paper as a guide . . .
Just imagine how wiggly the lines would be if I didn’t use a guide!
. . . and wrote out some simple songs, matching the notes and colors…
Look. It’s never the wrong season for Jingle Bells.
. . . and added a picture so that the boys know which song they’re playing.
And it looks pretty, too!
First we had experimented with songs written just as a series of dots, then I wrote some with the note values but no staff, but I think that having the notes on a staff will help the kids get used to reading music without realizing that they’re doing it. Plus, the same music can still be used without the stickers because it’s actually musical notation.
Max practices his songs devotedly and can play them quite well – and even Charlie, at three years old, can play ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ beautifully. Let me tell you, it’s a refreshing change from ‘Potato Masher.’