Review by Sarah Clarke
It is a book for teachers and not only gives a very structured series of little pieces to teach, but gives suggestions as to how they can be taught so that children learn to be musicians first and foremost. It is packed with games and exercises to achieve this.
The book is divided into different sections which makes managing it easier and can give children clearly defined levels of achievement..
What makes the book so valuable is not so much the music but the instructions on how to use it.
There are simple lesson plans at the beginning. They show how much can be learned from a great variety of very simple activities. It is fairly essential when teaching very young children to change activities frequently. There is a whole list of imaginative games at the beginning of the book which can be used.
Teaching is designated to be by rote until aural and digital skills are firmly established. Emphasis is put on the establishment of a good tone by using a firm rest stroke from the beginning and by inner ear training.
Each song is followed by a series of suggested follow-up activities . Through all this variety, the aim is to develop the child’s inner ear. This is usually where the secret of successful teaching is. If the inner ear develops in the right way then instrumental playing will follow quite naturally.
I think this book is essential reading for every serious teacher of the classical guitar. I have not seen anything like this before. In Sonia Michelson’s own words: “It is important to realize that there are many ways to teach music and guitar. Each child is a unique individual and flexibility in presenting these teaching ideas is of utmost importance.”
Review by Peter Danner, Soundboard
“This is a special book addressed to a special audience: children between the ages of three and twelve. Applying the methods of childhood music education developed by Shinichi Suzuki and Zoltan Kodaly, Sonia Michelson has written an extremely well-thought out method that should open the pleasures of guitar playing to a group that has often been overlooked in the past. There must be many guitar teachers who would think twice before taking on a student as young as six or seven, to say nothing of one as young as three. This book might just encourage them to do so.
The key to Ms. Michelson’s book is to build in small but progressive steps, and it is no accident that she quotes Schiller: “Only those who have patience to do simply things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” This is a motto we could all take to heart.
The book is carefully organized into five sections or “levels,” each of which centers around a series of single line melodies, 58 in all. These are added step-by-step outlines on how to proceed during the first formative lessons. There is also a series of thirty-two games that form an important and integral part of the learning process.
The notes are introduced in a logical sequence. It is interesting to note that the book focuses on the weaker third and forth fingers of the left-hand before the first and second fingers are ever used. Many of the later melodies are well known folk tunes like “Aunt Rhody,” “Love Somebody’ and “Cotton Eye Joe.”. The book closes with modest examples of Bach and Mozart.
While all these single lines (to be played using rest stroke except where thumb is involved) accompaniments are encouraged, many of them are simple ostinatos that can be played by the student.
This is an extremely thoughtful volume filled with empathy for the young.”
James Reid, Soundboard
There are so many good things about this method book that it’s difficult to know which to acknowledge first.
Ms. Michelson has developed an approach for 3-10 year old’s that combines aspects of the Suzuki approach with the Kodaly system. What distinguishes this book from others that deal with teaching children is its comprehensiveness. Not only is there a clear sequence of musical lessons to know, but the user is also presented with very thorough instructions as to help structure lessons. For example, one section of the book is devoted to games that may be used to develop basic musical skills.
The author has obviously given a great deal of thought to the strategies that work most successfully with youngsters and the text is full of useful suggestions for both the teacher and the parent. A recommended reading list is thoughtfully provided as well. Very highly recommended.
This book can be ordered through Amazon.