Chapter 3. Soft Mozart and Your Child's Self-Esteem.
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After the birth of the great Mozart on 27 January 1756, the world of music was affected by Child Prodigy Syndrome. People have always been delighted when they discover a new 'Mozart.' We look at a person like this with admiration, then, just as quickly we forget about them, never giving thought to their future or about what tremendous opportunities we are passing by ourselves.
Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave. This symbolizes something. The geniuses that we raise, do not receive any special benefits from our fleeting admiration. The attitude towards child prodigies is also cruel and unjust, like when we fall in love with a puppy. When the cute little fluffy ball grows up, he is abandoned. This is the case with Child Prodigy Syndrome. It is a lose/lose situation. It produces injustices, it is unkind to the geniuses and in no way enriches our lives.
This Child Prodigy Syndrome casts doubt on how special your child is. This absurdity was already evident when Mozart was alive. Poor little Beethoven was given a serious thrashing by his father just because he wasn’t enough like Mozart. People now understand that it is wrong to hit children. However even if we insist that our kids should be a copy of Mozart or some other great musician, we are treating them cruelly.
In music education, Child Prodigy Syndrome is harmful too, because it destroys a person's belief in his own strength: why try to achieve anything, if being a musician is a 'divine gift' and given only to the chosen. This attaining the standard of ‘a child prodigy’ is like Procrustes' bed into which we try make every person fit. [According to a Greek legend, Procrustes was a robber who claimed that he had a bed which fitted anyone; to make good his boast he stretched or cut his victim's legs] Not only has the result been that the world has not become a better place with new ‘Mozarts’, it has also crippled countless children who have grown up believing that they do not have a gift and that, compared to others, they are ‘second class citizens’.
Soft Mozart was not designed to create a child prodigy, no matter what the cost. Soft Mozart is a path to understanding the beauty and the depth of a composer's works. This helps one's love of music grow, understanding our beautiful world and every child’s place in it. Each person needs to be happy and confident about how special he is, if he is to appreciate the beauty of music and to grow to love it.
In the fashion world we no longer accept the wholesale use of only very thin models, because if their figures are the standard for all, it can ruin the life of an ordinary person. If someone imposes on himself the ‘image’ of others, he stops loving and respecting himself. This often leads to a person not wanting to accept his own body, to achieve the ‘ideal image’ (bulimia) and later destroy oneself for the sake of a fantasy (anorexia).
The last stage in glorifying the ideal is being completely absorbed in it and denying one’s self.
Even now we can hear older folks recounting how they were rapped on the fingers with a ruler and that was considered an integral part of learning to play piano. In our days, it is unlikely that you would see such absurdity on the internet. However, if you do a search on YouTube using the key words ‘piano lessons’ you will find many examples of piano teachers who correct the children’s hands, move their hands and place their fingers on the keys, mechanically moving fingers and elbows, forcing children to hold their hands in a certain way while playing and sometimes simply taking their hands off the keys.
There is also a hidden harshness in teaching, even when a teacher does not touch the child, but all the same, in one form or another, demands that the child blindly copies his movements: the teacher forces the student to play in the way that he himself considers ideal. You may not see anything inappropriate in this, as we are used to considering these requirements as standard and such methods of drilling as unavoidable.
However drilling is an attack on the natural development of skills. No matter how great that ideal is, it also has to be popular. If it is your idea is to show the student how the song should be played, when he asks you, you are forcing your knowledge on the child. It is that simple. Imagine a flower that has not had enough time to come out in time for a special occasion. You force the petals open. So you get what you want. But this will make the flower die.
Why is drilling so common in teaching the piano? Because it is based on the concept of memorizing off by heart and it is always connected with the absence of visual support. When learning languages visual support is the reading and writing of a text.
Here is an example of learning off by heart and drilling. Imagine that tomorrow you have to give a talk in a language you do not know. Not understanding a word, you will blindly copy the intonation of a native speaker. If you knew the language, you could write down the main points and use them as prompts. You would not be afraid to highlight certain points, slow down or speed up during your speech, change your pitch and pause in the appropriate places.
Not so with memorizing a foreign language. If you learn everything off by heart, you must remember the whole text straight away: the words, the expression with which they should be pronounced. Even the pauses and when you slow down must be controlled mechanically.
This is how the teacher is compelled to arrange lessons with the child, if they are not working with the Soft Mozart program. If the child can see and read the text, it completely changes the learning environment.
In the past, many children, learned off by heart to play a song at a concert and tried to get out of learning like this (even though they were successful 'parrots'). However now, being able to read a large amount of sheet music, allows one to build up a 'musical reserve' and freely speak the ‘language of music’. With Soft Mozart, a system has been developed of teaching musical notes. This really helps children to understand the ‘language of music’ on a completely different level.
A child who has been subjected to drilling, may remain dependent always. Even the seemingly inoffensive gesture of taking a child's hand off the piano keys, with the goal of showing him how he should do it, could lead to the following irreparable complexes:
The teacher is the example to be imitated.
The teacher is the boss and does not have to take into consideration my personal space.
The teacher knows how to play better than I do.
I am tone deaf: My teacher knows better than I do what I should hear.
I cannot do anything well without the supervision of my teacher.
There is the right way and the wrong way to play music and only my teacher knows the right way.
My teacher has the right to control all my movements.
My teacher has the right to turn me 'on' and 'off' like a toy.
My teacher is more important than me and has the right to do what he wants with my hands. He also has the right to tell me to leave if he has had enough of me.
My teacher is better than me and I should try and be like him.
My teacher is important and I am ‘a nobody’.
I am stupid, that is why my teacher has to constantly repeat the same thing over and over.
My success in my learning is dependent on my teacher. Without him I cannot correctly place my fingers on the keys.
If I learn without the approval of my teacher, I will ruin my hands, learn something by heart wrongly and I will suffer for my whole life.
In all the history of the Child Prodigy Syndrome we have developed a huge musical inferiority complex among many generations of people. Many people prefer to totally refuse to learn music, saying: it’s better to play nothing, than to mess everything up.
To fundamentally change the situation, one needs to understand, that soft natural teaching is the only healthy approach to teaching children and bringing them up. This will totally change the situation for the better and make learning exciting and beneficial for both children and adults. Only in this case the illness 'Child Prodigy Syndrome' will cease to exist and stop being a road block to the brilliant works of Mozart and other great composers.