My main concern for you guys and for myself when I'm teaching a group piano with preschoolers is making sure that they are committed and commitment with them has a lot to do with them. Feeling like you're committed to them. And one of the ways that I get them to commit by helping them feel committed is by learning and using their names.
It sounds really basic and really simple, but if you think about it here in your name makes you feel immediately interested and connected and also draws your attention to the person who is using your name. And you remember people who use your name, even if it's someone who's being cheesy and political, you still remember if they purposely used your name while they were talking to you, and the kids remember that to remember that you cared and they know that you were thinking of them when you were inviting them to sing or inviting them to move or inviting them to go to the piano.
So this is something that I do that's pretty simple. You've probably tried it before or thought of it before, but a reminder is good. So when you're with a group, even if it's only for kids, the way that I learned their names quickly is the first time we're meeting together. We all sit in a circle and we're sitting in the circle and I have a piece of paper with my lesson plan beside me on the floor.
And part of that lesson plan has a little space where I've drawn a circle and I've put a big dot where I sit, I put it at the bottom of the circle cause that helps me orient. And then whatever my hello song is, and you probably have your favorite hello song. It often incorporates the names of the children.
So for example, Hey, hello, hello Missy. How are you today? Something like that. I make sure that I start with the person on my right. And when I sing that song, I write their name on the paper, right? If I don't already know their names and I have a class roster from the registration of the class, then what I do is sing a name from the list.
So I don't know who they are or where they are, but when I seen that name, I can look at their body language to who's responding to the name. And then I can Mark that name on that same diagram that seems circle so I know where they were sitting in relation to me in the circle. So I'll go down the whole list, four to however many students you happen to have in your group lesson.
And by the end of the hello song, I have a name for every face and I also have some body language for every face and also a physical relation to where they are in the circle, so that if we maintain the circle for that song and the next song, I've had all these chances to remember who's who and where they are.
So that then later on in the class when we moved to other places, I already have a little bit of a marker on each student. So then I can keep using their names and if I ever need to refer back, I can remember, Oh, she was sitting on my right in the circle, or he was sitting to my left or right across from me in the circle and glance at the diagram with the noted names on it and be able to call out their names.
So I hope that this has been useful to you. Again, I did it because I know that we need to feel cohesion with younger children. We need them to commit because they know that they're committed to and that they are liked and loved in our piano classes. And then that helps them to maintain their focus and their interest long enough so they can learn in the class and enjoy coming to be with us.
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.