48. Every Toddler Can Play Hannon!
A toddler can learn to play the piano just as easily and relaxedly as he can ride on a tricycle. And what’s more, he should!
To teach my preschoolers to walk with their fingers along the keys, I picked out several of the simplest exercises. We need to cover the entire keyboard gradually and with every finger (Do Major in perpetual movement), with a little help with a stretching exercise (Hannon 1), and with the help of alteration between black and white keys (Chromatic Scale) and three keys simultaneously (Triads).
I taught children of various ages to play these exercises. The quickness with which they grasped these movements surprised me, and gradually the age group of the students I taught lowered… to two years old! It turns out that at the age of two, most kids can master the coordination of their fingers and are absolutely able to “walk along the keys” with both hands.
My selection of the aforementioned exercises isn’t coincidental. At first I only worked with the scales that were very easy to imitate and memorize, but gave a maximum freedom of coordination. Then, I checked how the children took to them and how effectively they developed their coordination. It turns out that I wasn’t mistaken. These exercises, described in more detail later, really do help kids to get familiar with the keyboard’s space, and my students ‘run along these paths’ several times a day with delight.
Once, a mother of one of my three-year-old students told me a story about her toddler. Having learned these exercises, he was so amused by them that at the moment that he noticed a set of keys, he’d move towards them as if drawn by a magnetic force. More than anything, he enjoyed ‘wandering’ along them with his little fingers. One day, finding at a music store, he moved towards the biggest grand piano in the building with purpose. He immediately started to play the chromatic scale, shifting along the seat after his hands. Onlookers fell into an indescribable rapture, but he continued to play attentively, not paying the slightest attention to the adults. He was happy: he was doing it!
The ability to do something with one’s own hands is the greatest pleasure for little kids. They’ve got the most powerful internal stimulus to learn: the delight of achievement. Playing exercises is exactly what they like best.
Here is a short write-up of the exercises that work as a support in developing technical coordination in my classes.