Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Montessori Music - Piano Lessons

Our music has not been entirely Montessori - and that is as it should be!

In a school setting, the primary child has the bells, as well as rhythm activities, group songs, and cultural music. The elementary child continues with these activities, studies music in history and other cultures, and is introduced to the tone bars.

Then that child will have other musical influences outside of school, varying with the family and living situation.

For us, we have had the following influences and experiences:

  • Full Montessori primary level music: bells and rhythm specifically
  • Can You Hear It? 
  • Our Musical Year - Level 1
  • 1 year of Montessori school with the group singing; 1/2 year at another Montessori school; 1 year at a local non-Montessori preschool (lots and lots of songs)
  • Church hymns and prayer time songs
  • Atrium music - 3 years

Is Montessori music curriculum enough? No. Music needs to be part of a child's life and for the most part, we can assume that music IS a part of the child's life, in some manner or another. It is written in their souls. 

Therefore Montessori music presumes that music saturates a child's life and the materials are designed to hone in on certain key aspects in order to enrich the child's experience elsewhere and fulfill his inner soul. 

Recently, my son received his long-awaited big Christmas present (we're just over 3 months late): 

He started his first lesson the same evening - and is already 3 lessons in (the next day as I type this!).
(Editing just before this post goes live: he's halfway through book 1 because of his previous music experience)

We are skipping the entire activity book that corresponds with this level. Why? Because the Montessori primary music alone covered it ALL; but then he's had the other experiences as well. The only thing for which we'll pull out our music flashcards to reinforce are the intervals - which Montessori covers, we just didn't as much as we could have. Again - Montessori music was not meant to be the child's ONLY music experience - but if it is their only experience, they are still on strong footing. 

I like The Music Tree books, because they have a Montessori feel for them. 
  • They were developed at a music school in conjunction with the students (sounds like the history of Montessori, huh?)
  • Book 1:
    • it gets the children hands on the black keys immediately; using BOTH hands; and in multiple octaves (this is the first song!). 
    • The child immediately becomes adept at moving across the keyboard, using black and white keys (white keys are brought in just a couple of lessons in). 
    • The child is given exercises in playing the same patterns in multiple locations on the keyboards (using those intervals of 2nds and 3rds, etc!) - this is possible because the staff lines are not introduced until halfway into the book. The focus is on the pattern, not on just memorizing the location of notes. 
    • In this way, the child is playing real music with real patterns before focusing too much on the scale of notes; he'll be able to adjust to both bass and treble readily. (how many of us are stuck in one or the other because we played a single clef instrument in our youth? or our piano lessons didn't include bass clef until we had "learned" treble clef?)
  • Additional books: 
    • Corresponding activity books fit together and extend better than others I've seen, or those that I used to teach myself over the years, and even those I used in my own lessons. 
    • the second book as a full set of staff lines and looks more like a regular piano books
    • starting in the 1st book and continuing ahead, there is constant review on each page
    • AND the children write their own songs based on patterns they are learning


  1. Where do i get these books? Would like to have them here at the house.
    would like to hear him play some day too!

  2. I purchased our Music Tree books on Amazon - 4-for-3; then picked up the accompaniment CD at a local music store (Amazon doesn't carry it and I can't play those low notes!). I think I got the sustain pedal on Amazon too.

    Amazon - Time to Begin

    Note that anything "English version" is BRITISH - they have a different style of music notation. (now any blog readers who are British, will want the English version ;) ).

    1. I should mention - Amazon stock goes in and out; so I have not linked above to the Amazon stocked book. I've just provided a link to a sample. :)

  3. For the Music Tree books, what we have right now:
    Time to Begin (just about to do a full review of each lesson)
    Time to Begin Activities (done)
    Level 1 (will begin next week)
    Level 1 Activities

    Will be needing in the near-ish future:
    Level 2A
    Level 2A Activities
    Level 2B
    Level 2B Activities

    I have a couple of the teacher books; they're not "necessary" at level 1 if the adult has basic piano skills. VERY basic. Just learn with the child. I'll probably want the teacher book for level 2 and higher.