For the past few months, we’ve been involved in the closed beta testing program for BrillKids Little Musician. If you’ve been breathlessly awaiting the release of Little Musician (like we have) you’ll be delighted to know that the complete Little Musician program complete with 1 year’s curriculum is available for open beta testing from now until 10 May 2012 so you can try it for yourself!
After our many failed attempts to interest Aristotle in learning music, I wasn’t really expecting much of a reaction from him with Little Musician. The only reason I wanted the program was so I could play it for Hercules – my little musician. So I was extremely surprised (and delighted!) to find that Aristotle loved Little Musician! He’s been asking for lessons everyday and always wants more than I offer him.
What’s Little Musician About?
I originally thought of it as a music appreciation program but it’s turned out to be a whole lot more than that. It runs similarly to Little Reader and Little Math but with its own unique features specific to teaching music. Check out what’s included in a typical lesson:
1. Chord Recognition
There are nine chords that we want your child to be able to recognize instantly. (For you musicians, these are the C, F, and G chords, in root, first inversion and second inversion.) The chords are played with instruments, and sung out in Solfege. Examples are “domiso” for the C Major (root) chord, and “falado” for the F Major chord. Together, the nine chords cover all the notes of the C Major scale (white keys). This is similar to the Eguchi method used in Japan, which some consider to be the best way to foster ‘perfect pitch’ and which apparently has produced a very high success rate.
2. Note Sounds
This is the most basic of lessons, and lets your child associate pitch with the written note on the musical staff. It’s a good way to show how higher pitched notes are written higher and lower pitched notes lower. Different instrument sounds are used, and we use different note icons like baby faces instead of notes.
These lessons teach individual notes in Solfege (eg., Do, Re, Mi), with notes shown on the musical staff. Your child will start associating pitch with the note position on the musical staff, as well as with the relevant solfege syllable. Semester 1 focuses purely on C Major. Semester 2 introduces Solfege in F Major. Lesson slides are forwarded manually because we want to encourage you to take your time to interact with your child. During the lessons, it’s very important to sing out the note you hear, and – if possible – encourage your child to sing it out, too.
These are exercises which help train the ear (Hear and Sing), and help to promote sight-reading of notes (See and Sing). Hear and Sing exercises train both chord recognition, as well as individual note recognition, encouraging your child to listen to the chord or note, and sing it out in Solfege. See and Sing exercises show notes on the musical staff and encourages your child to sing it out in Solfege, similar to how your child would read out words or sentences.
Clap-Along lessons are designed to give your child an introduction to rhythm and beats. During these lessons, children songs (such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) are played, and your child is encouraged to clap along to the beat. Different beat rhythms are introduced as the curriculum progresses.
6. Music Knowledge
In these lessons, your child will get to learn more about how music is made. First, your child is introduced to different musical instruments (eg., violin, trumpet, clarinet), hear what they sound like, and see how they are played. Second, your child will also learn more about famous classical composers (eg., Bach, Mozart, Beethoven) and some of the famous pieces they composed.
7. Music Appreciation
The aim of these lessons is to expose your child to classical music, and through the exposure, let her gain familiarity with (as well as appreciation of) classical music. These lessons include clips from fifty of the most popular classical pieces, such as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
Rhythm lessons will introduce your child to rhythm syllables, such as “Ta” for quarter notes/crotchets, and “Ti” for eighth notes/quavers. Rhythm syllables are a good way to learn how music notation on the musical staff indicate different lengths of time, and therefore how rhythm is notated. Rhythm lessons start from Semester 2.
Through these lessons, your child will see and hear different scales in different keys. Lessons cover both major scales as well as the different minor scales (harmonic, melodic and natural), and are played out using instruments as well as with Solfege voices. Scales lessons start from Semester 2.
Keyboard lessons will introduce your child to the keyboard, showing how the different black and white keys of the keyboard correspond to the different Solfege notes and music pitches. Instead of perceiving the keyboard as an overwhelming sea of black and white keys, your child will see them in distinct groups made up of lower to higher octave patterns. Keyboard lessons start from Semester 2.
And if you’ve ever wanted to teach your child “perfect pitch”, you can do it with Little Musician. Another mother who was part of the closed Beta testing for Little Musician helped her twins develop perfect pitch using Little Musician. Check out her video here:
The ball game is an absolutely brilliant idea! If you would like to know how she did it, I encourage you to read what she wrote about it on the BrillKids Forum.
After waiting for Little Musician for so long, I’m glad to say that it has surpassed all my expectations – but don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself! If you’re interested in Beta Testing Little Musician, check out the Open Beta Testing post on the BrillKids Forum and follow KL’s instructions.
Update! There is a new build for Little Musician. Download the latest build here.