One of the most
rewarding aspects of using Piano by Number is that children
readily compose their own original music using the number
By my own
estimate, one out of two children will become intrigued by the
idea of writing their own music when they begin playing with
Piano by Number.
The reason for
this is that children are comfortable with numbers, so much so
that they are moved to try to make up their own music.
Part of this
may be because the piano is so user-friendly: all the notes are
laid out in front of you, with convenient black and white
Now, much of
this music is nonsense, as is to be expected, but even the stuff
that is nonsense serves a purpose. A child who attempts to write
music is demonstrating great interest in music and the piano,
and any attempt is to be loudly applauded.
I work with
them as with real adult composers, discussing variations and
concept, title, and all the aspects that a real composing
student would experience.
And there are
amazing kids out there, for not all that they wrote is nonsense.
I have several
15 year old composers, children who are so taken with writing
their own piano music that we study their music and not other
composers unless they are interested. Almost all of them resist
reading music, in fact, I have noticed that child composers
resist this drudgery and want to get to the heart of the the
music right away.
I have a 12
year old girl who can barely read music, for various reasons,
but who composed a piano concerto, yes, a real concerto type of
piece, full of roiling arpeggios and all the bombastic tricks of
the period. You
would never guess that this piece was by a 12 year old, for it
is real music. She is on her 20th song now, which she works on
in between soccer and baseball practices. Anyone who hears her
and her compositions is astounded.
I have a five
year old autistic boy who hates to read music but does so quite
well. His passion is patterns and numbers. He composes
occasionally, and his latest work is a real Broadway tune. It
makes perfect sense and could easily have been penned by Jerry
Herman or Kander and Ebb. It's only four bars long, but it has
all the earmarks of musical genius. I say four great bars is a
great accomplishment for a five year-old, autistic or not.
countless normal, everyday kids who come up to me and say,
wrote this song." We turn to a page in their note book, and
there is written their attempt at a song. Usually there are
moments of lucidity where it DOES sound like music, but usually
it is random.
The point is to
encourage this activity, for several reasons.
First, it is a
huge raise in self esteem for a child to write something and
have it be appreciated.
voluntarily demonstrates that the musical process has penetrated
their consciousness far enough that they pour themselves into
important how clever the piece is, although those kids that
REALLY write something remarkable will never hear the end of it
from me, because it IS magical to hear a child write their own
It is the
nature of the piano, and the ease of the number system, that
prompts them to do this. At the piano, there is one key for each
note, making it easy to access EVERY sound on the piano, even
for a five year-old.
itself almost asks you to make something up, and numbers makes
it possible for the child to write it down easily, completing
the act of composition.
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