So I want to offer you guys this tool that can help you prove to the parents in your studio that you are actually giving their children something that's progressively improving and something that's worth the time and money that they're spending. And so this is what it is.
Evaluations. So evaluations are just a visual way that you can measure various aspects of your students' music learning and then show it to the people in your studio. So let's talk about how you can represent the kinds of things that a very young child is learning that are significant to his development.
Maybe in a way that wouldn't be the same for the development of older musicians. So let's talk holistically. We can talk about the elemental parts of their music learning, which is their ability to understand rhythm. In context and their ability to understand tonality in context. We can talk about their social emotional abilities, which is their ability to wait in a turns taking situation with other people.
Whether you. Or other people in their group, depending on what format of lessons you're giving. We can also talk about their coordination, how well they're able to actually handle the piano. We talked about that in a couple of my lives ago about how they're able to avoid a banging the piano and have consciousness of using their body with the right amount of force when they approached the piano.
So that's something else that you can talk about. When you're making these valuations. And then of course, you can talk about the number of songs that they have, uh, learned. And you can also show that. Um, in another way, which is an informance, what I call an informance different from a recital, because I personally do not believe that recitals are appropriate for young children.
I think they have too much social pressure, and they also have too much performance pressure, and they're not really appropriate for helping the children build their self esteem and build their enjoyment. Music while they're so young and impressionable. Uh, so when I say informants, I just mean a time when you basically have something that looks like a kinder music or music garden circle together and the kids get a chance when they're ready and when they feel like it to go up and play their songs.
And you can even do your group lesson types of activities where you're singing and doing rhythmic activities together during that meeting so that the kids feel like it's not a performance anxiety type of situation. But now I would like to talk to you about some of the individual things you can evaluate when you make your evaluations, and you don't have to have all of these.
I've had different ones of all of these on a grid over the years and change them depending on the schools that I'm working with, and depending on the kinds of families I'm working with in my studio, for example, I might have homeschool families that. Are using, uh, a Waldorf, uh, kind of curriculum in their home.
And they may have different, uh, kinds of priorities than another family that's using Reggio Emilia or Montessori or something else. So it's of course up to you to make sure you understand the goals of the family when you're making these evaluations to show them that their child is, is, um. Improving on the way to these goals.
So let me start with a list of some things that I found from the MENC, which is what they used to call one of the best national organizations and music teachers in the United States. And they had a really great, um, compilation of ways you can evaluate young children. And I'm going to read to you some of the things that they measure when they talk about musicianship and young children.
So sorry for my pause. I was just making sure I could scroll down and find those things for you. And I'm also going to put a link for you in the comments so that you can look at these things and copy and paste them into wherever you decide to do your evaluation.
So the first one is that the child can play a simple accompaniment to a song. And that's something that in most of your early childhood music curricula, you have a way for the child to have a duet with the teacher. So that's something that you can evaluate whether they actually did that and whether they were successful.
And of course, in all cases, you're probably going to say, yes, they were successful. Um, because you've built success into their experience in, in your studio. Um, the next thing, uh, that I would say is. That they identify the source of a variety of sounds. So obviously the most obvious source in your class is the piano.
But if you have lessons where you mix in exploration of instruments, you can always build easy lessons where you have the children identify the difference between a Glock and spiel and a xylophone. And the difference between the sound of the. Finger symbols and the little, um, wood sticks that they can clash, clash together.
You can do these kinds of lessons, um, that help them enjoy different tambours, explore different materials and improve their general listening skills. So that's something that the MENC values and something that you can show that you're helping your students with. If you're mixing this into the, away from the keyboard times in your group lesson.
And finally, the MENC, um, recommends that you evaluate whether children can move expressively. Two different kinds of music. So again, in the context of a group music lesson, when you're doing away from the keyboard exercises, which I will go into a little bit more if you, uh, come to the conference and come to my session.
And I think another, uh, couple of our speakers will also be addressing away from the keyboard activities. Um, you will have chances to play for the children yourself on the piano so that they can then, that they can hear different styles of music and move to the music. You can do stop and go games. Um, you can do quiet soft games.
You can do games where you ask the students to move freely the way that they feel the music is, and make sure you're altering sort of the heaviness or lightness of the music or the speed of the music. Um, and these are things that are considered to be developmentally appropriate. And. That you can write down in your evaluations when you present them to the parents of the children in your studio.
So now I have a second of three, um, groups of types of evaluations that you can copy from. And I'm going to scroll to the second kind. The second kind comes from or schoolwork. And you're gonna recognize that if you've been using orphan, your classes are mixing orphan to what you do with your young students.
Mmm. And when I do these things, um, I like to use a scaled rating. I start with beginning, growing and confidence. So the first is the to the left is beginning and the middle is growing. And at the right is confident because I think that those measures also give the impression that the children can continue growing and that you are supporting them and continuing growing, not that they are a failure or they can't do it or that.
After this time, they'll never get a chance to improve again, but that they are developing, which is appropriate for this age range. So that's something else you can include when you write your evaluations. So let me talk about the orphan, the orphan measures that you can include in your evaluations. Mmm.
So you can talk about whether the children recognize the physical properties of instruments. That's something really nice you can do, whether they're metallic or wooden or made of bone or whatever a hand instruments you bring in for, you're away from the keyboard section of your lessons. You can evaluate whether the child waits attentively information while others perform.
This is something easy to evaluate and something all the kids can grow in as you encourage them and as they notice how much more fun it is to participate when their classmates are happy with them, because usually their classmates are not happy if they feel they're not being given the full chance to enjoy their turn on the instrument.
Mmm. Verbalize his own name during chance. So if you have a hello song, like some of the hello songs I've introduced you to, you can measure whether they are actually responding and saying their own name during the hello song. And if you happen to do rhythmic, uh, poems as part of the away from the keyboard exercises in your class, you can also incorporate their names into those and see if they are verbalizing their own names in those.
And of course you set the example by verbalizing their names. As I mentioned in a previous life when I was talking about learning their names,
and I think there's one more that I've missed telling you guys about. I'm going to scroll up and see if I can find it. Ah, yes. It's applies the appropriate force to instrument. Which is really important. Uh, we talked about that before. So now you have, um, two different sets of things you can evaluate well, from two different great authorities, the MENC and from ORFs schoolwork.
And then the third one is from a theory of early childhood, from Gordon music learning theory. And I'm going to tell you about that. That has to do with, uh, three types and seven stages of. A preparatory audiation, which is an idea about how the inner musician of children is growing from the time they're babies to the time they're about five or six years old.
And I'm going to post a link to that. It's a nice little progression that shows, um, general groups of kinds of development in especially rhythm and tonal understanding and young children. And those three types are acculturation. Um, which is where the children engage with little consciousness of the environment.
So their movements may seem to be random, but they are somewhat related to the music that they're hearing. But they are hearing lots of music because you're providing a lot of music. And that's at the youngest of ages, probably that age is not really in your studio, but you can always be providing a variety of different kinds of music to continue that process of acculturating your students.
Then there's the invitation type, which is a type where the children consciously try to engage in what you're doing so you can see that they're starting to copy you and they're starting to become more accurate in their copies, and they're really listening and understanding how the things they do may or may not be the same as the things that you do when you're singing or moving or playing on the piano.
And then the third type is a simulation where they're consciously thinking about what they're doing and purposely making it on the right beat and in the right tonality in a way that starts being consciously creative. So this is when they can start to actually improvise in really interesting ways and stick with the beat and stick with the tonality.
So these are things that you can also put on your evaluation as you begin to see them, uh, with your children. And you can just put these on the scale going from, um, culturation through imitation and through simulation. And I'll put a link to . To that in the comments. You can see it. So I hope that's been useful to you as you think about how you can represent what you're doing in your lessons in a way that encourages the parents in your studio to keep bringing their kids so you can keep helping them grow in piano and music.
Hi! I'm Ekanem Ebinne. I've been teaching school and studio music for kids for fifteen years. I love how preschool kids immediately focus on music and stay engaged longer when I use movement and development insights from Gordon Music Learning Theory. And I love hearing from teachers who took my training and found the same success with their own students. Join us on Facebook, take the free Five Day Studio De-stress Challenge, and subscribe to our mailing list to get new blog posts as soon as they're up.