How To Mark Your Keys
Labeling the notes and piano keys visually help to locate them and shift eye focus from one to another.
Piano keys and music notes of Grand Staff are one visual unite, if to turn the notes 90 degrees:
Piano key stickers
We use two systems of naming the piano keys and music notes: Alphabetical (C, D, E, F; G, A и B), and "Solfeggio" or Italian (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti).Computer Hot Keys:
Press A for Alphabet. Press I for icons (Italian, Solfeggio). Here are the names of English pictures that phonetically correlate with Solfeggio music notes' names:
We recommend: ...to use Italian system for all beginners and especially early learners from 2 to 5. These icons a child can easily recognize and remember before he/she even can learn how to read. More importantly that Solfeggio syllables are very convinient for singing and memorization. Singing promotes music ear development of beginners. They also capable of building connection between the note, note's name and pitch more effectively.
LEARNING PIANO GEOGRAPHY. For the best interaction with piano keys older beginners can download, print and place the piano key guides behind the keys
Meanings of the colors and shapes:
• 5 green stripes are for the keys corresponding with lines of the Treble Clef.
• 5 brown stripes are for the keys corresponding with lines of the Bass Clef.
• Half brown, half green stripe is for the Middle C (Middle Do) and represents the first additional line.
• Red - color of all the line notes.
• Blue - color of all the space notes.
• Lightly colored blue space between the 3rd and 4th lines to indicate the beginning of the next octave
Using stickers will help to develop coordination and remove the stress and anxiety from the fear of pressing the wrong one of countless similar-looking piano keys when learning to play. Our stickers act as your musical road
signs. With them you will never be lost and always will find the correct key. The color scheme of these stickers creates a direct and subconscious visual association of piano keys with the music staff.
Piano key sticker guide for Italian (Solfeggio) note names:
Piano key sticker guide for Alphabetical note names:
Read Before You Start
Many people associate the word 'soft' with computer software.
The central figure of the Hiner Method is the learner.
An “ideal performance” of a music piece is not a priority of our teaching.
The main product of our efforts is the stable, successful and fun development of a child or adult beginner in learning to play the piano. However, an “ideal performance” often appears as a side effect.
Music is a tool that helps us bring out the best qualities of every student. We can use music to make a person stronger and improve the unique quality of someone’s inner self.
Unfortunately, we may teach a student to play one piano piece beautifully, but kill forever any love of making music.
Music was, is and always will be here on this earth. And only fun and successful learning will promote the desire to further develop or even master a student’s musical skills.
Music notation should be adjusted to the student’s perception. Changing music to make it easier or to digitize it doesn’t hurt a music text. On the other hand, students can be hurt if they have to deal with the user-unfriendly way of reading music.
Ideal performance is an abstract notion. Performance that is far from ideal can’t hurt a music piece. Demanding that a student play perfectly and forcing the student to submit to this goal can cause incurable damage to the student’s psychological health.
Ultimately, it can affect his/her entire life. Learners—with their self-sufficiency, uniqueness, confidence and their own strengths—are the priority of the Hiner Method.
We have no right to decide for learners, whether or not they will be professional musicians. Therefore, we cannot push them to become concert pianists. Our task is to involve students in music and instill in them a love of communicating with sounds.
1. Your vision - the ability to see every note and key on the fly is the most powerful tool for motivation to learn how to play piano and read music.
You may push a button and pull a tune from your iPod - you may also sit and perform the same exact piece yourself at the piano. The quality of the performance is probably very different and most likely not in your favor.
But the quality of the IMPACT on YOUR mind will be much stronger if you will make the music and interpret it by yourself. It is easy to do with our adjustable notation.
You will be able to choose the visual format that works the best for your eyes and be able to gradually develop and change it for more complicated as you progress.
Most importantly, by MAKING music by yourself with your own body, heart and soul, you are participating in a process of changing your own life and fate.
You receive a very important message from your own subconscious: you are a master of your own life even when you’re play by notes written by another creator.
For children this is one of the most important lessons of their lives. It is no accident that Plato named music education the foundation of general study, and making music should be placed in front of all of the other subjects.
Russians have a saying that a really educated person ought to have at least 3 diplomas: his, his parents and his grandparents.
Suggest to create a “cult of music education” in your/your students' homes. Do not be intimidated by the word “cult.” After the global pull back from music education, when music is gradually being squeezed out of public schools and pianos are given away for free to be replaced by pieces of furniture, it is time to swing the pendulum the other way.
Without a piano or even a digital keyboard, a home has no soul. This instrument has to have the most comfortable place in the house, accessible to all family members. This instrument should never collect any dust on it. If someone goes to play it, with or without headphones, everyone else should respect this creative act and never prevent it from happening.
3. Social communication.
Be encouraged to find “brothers in music making.” Carefully look around in your child’s day-care center or school. Are there any other parents who understand the importance of music education and whose child is taking piano classes?
Ask them: 'Do you enjoy meeting people?' Suggest to initiate some meetings – evenings – parties, where children and adults will play music pieces for each other.
Make it a tradition! Communicate, have fun, eat delicious food, let kids communicate with each other, too. Why don’t we add more flavor and meaning to your parties?
Such meetings can change the quality of your communication not just with other adults, but also with children – big time!
Start with a little recital. When your little “pumpkins” and you play music pieces prepared especially for the event, the bond between generations will become much stronger.
4. Virtual communication.
Internet communities. Interactive communication can also be a huge incentive for taking music lessons. We founded the Soft Mozart community (a forum and network) for people who want to receive a good effective music education.
Our experience proved to us how important is it to be heard and to have the ability to communicate while receiving a music education.
Even little children love to play for their peers from different countries as well as listen to their friends’ performances. They like to hear the pieces that they are learning as well as new ones. After that they suddenly say to their parents: “I am going to learn this song, too!”
5. Join our Soft Mozart community and share your You Tube videos. We developed our Academy with the goal of giving music educators not only an opportunity to communicate directly, but also to give a chance to get inspired by other learners and/or their parents.
By being in touch with people who care about music education and who wants the best for their children and themselves, our community members receive positive reinforcement and strengthen their own motivation.
We send each participant a Certificate of participation and special gifts to build the strong motivation to learn how to play piano and read music.
As You Go Suggestions
Let’s start teaching baby at home. All by ourselves. Hooray!
Set aside a certain area in your home for music lessons. Hopefully, this place can be kept entirely for this purpose. Music education is going to be part of your household now, and in an ideal world your child should have access to our program all the time.
It should be as accessible as their favorite games, toys or books. Therefore, if you have an old computer (so old that you already thinking of throwing it out), connect it to your keyboard or digital piano and dedicate this machine entirely for music lessons. Our software doesn’t require much memory or extra gadgets. Even 10-year-old computer could work well. If you do not have such a computer, ask your friends or relatives. They may be very grateful that you can help them to get rid of their ‘piece of junk’ or ‘dust collector’.
There is no need to follow the lesson plan religiously. We created it simply to give you a general idea of how it works in principle and how everything is generally structured. If you are not following it perfectly, it doesn’t mean that life is over! So long as you are progressing in the general direction of the lesson plan you are doomed to succeed – sooner or later.
The rule of thumb here is to have as much fun as possible during the process of learning and maintain a regular practice schedule.
Do not ever compare your results with the results of other people. There is no need to cry: «Оh my, we are so far behind!» When you are learning music, your initial progress might be fast or it might be slow.
I have heard many stories of people who have started very slow and then found their footing and progressed so much that nobody and nothing would dare to stop them. The goal of your learning is personal growth. The program is built for you and you are competing with nobody, but yourself!
For a small child mom – is someone nurturing and taking care of, and a teacher – is someone, who is giving instructions. This is why your child can play up and show off with parents and to be shy, intimidated but cooperative with a teacher.
This is where all the problems of the home schooling come from and sometimes it is way too overwhelming for the parents. Do not be afraid! Merely try to remember simple rules:
1. Make the impersonation into a teacher and a student a ‘ritual’. For instance, change clothes ‘for school’ or place in your home ‘to enter to our classroom’. You also may buy a little bell and make it as a signal for starting the class. It would be also very helpful to ask your baby to wash his/her hands and comb his/her hair ‘for the classes.’
2. Change the tone of your communication. Now you are a Teacher. Please, forget all these nice nicknames for a while. О ласковых прозвищах надо забыть на некоторое время. Treat your child with respect, but do not be harsh.
3. Try do not ask: would you like to play with cards? Just give your student an option to choose. Offer nor more than 2 choices! But the best way is to simply captivate your child’s interest with your own enthusiasm. ‘Music cards – wow! It is so cool! Would you like to play?’
4. Use specific levers of encouragement. If ‘ you are great!’ – let it be a sticker or color figure from construction paper. Always try to find an unexpected opportunity for the encouraging.
For example, your child calmed down and got focused. You give him a ‘present’ and abruptly say: wow! You’ve got concentration! Give the presents for anything: when child stopped talking, became perceptive, stopped wiggling, played one note correctly. This process should be like crocheting or knitting needles: ANY positive moment should be used as a an eyelet for the future growth.
5. Always finish your lessons BEFORE your child got tired and preferably at the most exciting moment.
6. Do not be afraid of stamping on one place. In teaching young children the most important goal is not the result of learning, but maintenance of the desire to learn.
7. If your child is preoccupied with something and doesn’t want to start the class, try to win his attention with your colorful ‘music money’. Get construction paper and make 'butterflies' or 'flags' for that and 'pay' your child for every task that he/she had accomplished for you.
8. If this is not helping either, get yourself to the instrument , learn a piece and give yourself a ‘flag’. Don’t give your spot up to your child immediately after requesting, if asked. You have to send him/her a message that classes are important to you too. Teach your child to value your time. When you are about to end your session, say: ‘Now we are mom and daughter/son again! Let’s count our 'music money' and convert them into real presents! What to use for the presents is up to you.
Start a notebook and take notes! No 'saving scores' on computer, no printing them out!
Take your eyes off screen and write down your scores. Teach your child to do the same!
Last think we want is to develop your addiction to computer games!
Best Practice of keeping scores:
Date, Name of Module, Amount of Game Time played, Score
Date, Name of the Piece, Album *optional*
Score first time amount of correct notes / time delay
1. ____/____ 2_____/______
We recommend to practice right, left, both hands of any song no more then 2 times in one set. This practice develops motivation and combats perfectionism.Numbers. In our program, numbers are extremely important. Every beginner, whilst developing new skills, leaves their own personal trail of numbers.
We develop fingers' management (fingering) organically.
If you will work on piano exercises and scales that we cherry-picked for you in our lesson plans, will sight-read and perform many piano pieces from Gentle Piano, you will develop your proper finger management naturally.
We don't support fingering enforcement since that exploits the muscle memory of beginner and suppress the development of other skills: the ability to sight-read music the most.
Here is another remarcable sample: a 4-year-old Katarina resists to follow fingering suggestion. Her mom/piano teacher (our Soft Mozart certified teacher) doesn't push the child. Katarina develops her fingers' management organically and you will be amazed what will happen at the end of the video:
Post your videos in our forum, if you need help or have questions. We will be able to evaluate your fingers' management and guide you in the right direction
First and foremost they are not games at all! They are programmed with advanced algorithm that registers your every move and gives you a different route based on your performance.
If you are making more and more mistakes the software not just slows down ‘till the complete stop and gives you more and more hints, but also changes its progression. It would keep you on the levels that you fail as much as needed for understanding.
But if you ‘got it’ and make no or almost no mishaps, the game will push you as hard as you can handle. In the process of playing such ‘games’ the program not only developing your music aptitude on brain subcortex , but also music vision – that is the ability to focus on small objects and shift eye focus from one similar looking object to another.
In the process of ‘playing’ these ‘games’ the first complex skills are getting built: fine motor skills develop in conjunction with hearing and eye-sight.
We use computer keyboard keys as a prototype of piano keys that makes future challenges more gradual and smooth.
In order to make the game fully and effectively functional and beneficial for you, please pay great deal of attention to them and… be very cautious.
They are very intense.
I had many music educators during their Soft Mozart training sessions, who were literally groaning trying to beat the games and facing a lot of sudden challenges.
So here: with the very young beginners the ‘games’ should be started as a ‘medicine for brain’ – in small and strict doses.
Take one game and work on it during an entire month for 1 – maximum 3 minutes of the GAME TIME. Watch what duration is the most comfortable for your child and stick with it for a month ahead.
During your next session stop the game by pressing F1, when the same time is being expired regardless of the game progression, even if the ‘coins’ didn’t fell into the chest.
Write the score down and compare the results.
Keeping track of the progress is absolutely necessary!
The positive results are the indication of your child's progress in many fields, including attention span and focus endurance (I am not mentioning music development).
It is better to have short session many times than one long session. If your child doesn’t like to play our game, it means that the time/score have to be adjusted.
There are certain parameters that have to be considered:
1. Time. Session can’t be too long or too short. Watch your child and stop the game before your child start wondering around. Even if the game time was just couple of seconds! This is the child’s ‘starting point’. We’ll build from there
2. Goal. The goal of each game is to get more ‘coins’ for the same amount of time. Show your child your appreciation when the goal is being reached! They quickly ‘get’ the math and will look for the figures in future.
3. Mistakes and spider are our 'friends'. Explain your child from the start that the spider is our friend. If we lose, he’ll get some fruits for his family at the start. But build ‘competition spirit’ with spider any way!
Don't read the forum - write!
If you have many learners, provide individual Progress Diary for each.
Follow our lesson plans and post your progress reports (numbers that you get from playing theory modules or Gentle Piano), pictures or videos.
Videos are most helpful! Upload the videos on YouTube, copy/paste the link in the body of your message.
We are going to monitor your progress and help you to achieve the most effective results.
If you will accomplish all the assignments from your Lesson Plans and post about it, you will receive a Diploma at the end of each learning cycle.
Selecting music pieces for Soft Mozart recitals, working on them and performing them form a child’s ability to get things done. They also realistically distribute the child’s energy level and attention span.
In the Hiner Method the most important phase of learning is a recital that is provided online, incorporating YouTube videos.
The goal of the recitals is to celebrate the achievement of each student and offer a ceremonial completion of the project. The use of the Internet helps make such a celebration more lasting and useful because every participant can watch and comment on the performance of another. They can share the video with friends and relatives and for the performer, create a long-lasting effect of satisfaction, allowing them to reap the fruits of their efforts.
Traditional recitals demand from children a lot of labor over a long period of time. The performance is short and played in front of a small inner circle of family and other students. The joy of accomplishment (if it exists at all) lasts a very short time.
Traditional recitals, the preparation for them and the evaluation of students, are based on a statement of the student’s imperfection.
In the Hiner Method, the center of our attention is a statement of the student’s achievements over past performances. We do not compare the progress of a student with the “ideal” but with the previous achievements from the last semester.
In order to teach children to be realistic and balanced, to be able to find a "middle ground" approach to anything (not just music), our recitals are held with contrasting objectives. One concert focuses on the quantity of music pieces and the second on the quality of performance.
The “Butterfly Ball” December 15 - January 15
This recital is held in winter. It got its name because the author, Hellene Hiner, personally sent to each participant a butterfly for each performed piano piece.
The desire of participants to get as many butterflies as possible promoted their efforts to perform a large number of pieces. Pieces for this concert are not polished; the student can perform with mistakes and with no memorization, by sight-reading.
The Graduation Recital May 15 - June 15
It is provided at the end of the school year or beginning of summer. The goal of this concert is to demonstrate the student’s ability to play more artistically. Now the aim is not quantity, but quality of performance.
The phase of students’ celebrating and receiving certificates and gifts usually takes several months because children get their presents by snail mail. They also can exchange the gifts with each other, which keeps the celebration going.
This experience of celebrating the students’ completion of the previous project while working on a new project supports and strengthens their motivation in learning music.
Integrated Lesson Plans Monthly
The basic rules of learning to sight-read music using the module "Gentle Piano":
1. Select the Album from Gentle Pieno list, which is 1-2 levels lower than the pieces that you are learning for your performance. The level of each album is indicated to the right of its title.
3. Start reading on the 2nd presentations (vertical without pictures) with both hands.
Do not be afraid to stay on the vertical presentation for as long as your you need to build your skills to recognize all the spaces and lines and keys on the fly.
This visual mode is essential for your sight-reading development.
4. If the number of mistakes on the left is greater than 5 and the time (on the right) is more than the number of notes played, you are not ready to read a piece with both hands.
We recommend reading first with separate hands, and then with two for the most smooth sight-reading experience.
5. Play by each hand or both hands no more than 2 times. Memorization of the music is not our goal in sight-reading.
6. Gradual challenges:
- aim for less mistakes: set your goal to play all the pieces in an Album with 5, 3, 1 or no mistakes (choose 1 option for each session)
- move from the vertical (second) presentation to 4, 5 and 6. DO NOT USE THE FIRST AND THIRD visual modes, because they do not develop your ability to recognize lines and spaces.
7. Keep your records in you Progress Diary in our forum or just in your notebook.