Are you looking for guitar or piano lessons for kids that will keep your child interested in making music? Would you like your child to express their own thoughts with their own music composition? Or, after having taken some piano lessons in Singapore, to be able to spontaneously improvise music with their peers as they play the piano or guitar in any setting?
Piano lessons for kids, with more
The most common type of piano lessons for kids today tend to focus on rote memorisation and performance; they lack any systematic method for musical fluency (improvisation and composition).
The solution lies in a recently rediscovered and revolutionary pedagogical method that was used to teach musicians improvisation and composition in the classical era. Known as “partimento”, it reshapes music education by shifting the focus of learning towards creativity. The first music school to offer partimento piano lessons in Singapore is Songbird Music Academy.
The Academy’s founder, Nikhil Hogan, is a summa cum laude graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and is an experienced music teacher with children. When he discovered partimento, he began studying it privately with Belgian harpsichordist and partimento expert, Professor Ewald Demeyere. Here, Nikhil shares why using partimento piano lessons for kids is the best way to get them to understand music and become fluent in improvisation and composition.
What’s the difference between partimento and the way music schools currently provide piano lessons for kids?
Music schools in Singapore tend to be exam-oriented and the testing largely centres on rote memorisation of classical repertoire. Many students end up quitting music, even after attaining high exam grades; it’s common to find adults with distinctions in their Grade 8 music exams who have quit playing the piano. The key reason? They never learned musical fluency, which is revealed in the ability to improvise and compose music. This is part of the appeal of non-classical music education such as jazz or popular music.
In some ways, partimento is very similar to jazz. It starts simply at the beginner’s level and progresses to some difficult levels such as the improvisation of fugues, which would intimidate professional musicians today. Training in partimento leads to fluency – kids learn to think “in” rather than “about” music. With this gradual development and as the student attains maturity, it can lead to easy composition.
How does the partimento way of playing the piano help with learning?
Collaborative research over the last 10 years between Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Imperial College of London’s Centre for Complexity Science has studied how each half of the brain communicates during improvised and non-improvised music. This research by Professors David Dolan and Henrik Jensen has shown that improvised and non-improvised music result in distinctly different brain scans.
Partimento is a more holistic method of learning music; it utilises those regions of the brain that have been underserved in modern music education. This can translate to greater improvements in overall cognitive development and academic performance for children.
How else does the method provide the best piano lessons for kids?
Children are naturally creative and curious. If we remove the creative element and force a child into the routine of memorising music, the side of their brain that handles creativity and creation never gets to develop.
Partimento is a pattern-based approach to learning music. Children quickly pick it up because it’s like assembling Lego blocks but using sound. In addition, besides teaching a student how to create beautiful classical-sounding music, partimento piano lessons for kids are the perfect foundation for assimilating other styles of contemporary music, like jazz or popular music.
Can a student without piano theory learn this way?
A student should know the rudiments of music. That includes basic sight-reading, key signatures, major and minor scales, accidentals, clefs and intervals. Partimento piano lessons introduce concepts such as the rule of the octave, cadences, bass motions and imitation; this theory is instantly applicable.
Ironically, a lack of modern music theory as it is taught for theory exams might benefit students because partimento theory is quite different and eschews a lot of unnecessary things. Modern music theory can get stuck with unwieldy analysis; partimento, however, is practical with its theory.
Here’s what a couple of the world’s top experts think of Nikhil’s approach.
“A new way to teach children music turns out to have been a very old way – the way that Bach and Mozart learned music. Nikhil Hogan is at the forefront of introducing children to the fun ways music was taught in the old conservatories of Europe.”
– Professor O. Gjerdingen, Author of Music in the Galant Style
“Nikhil’s passionate contribution to the partimento movement is invaluable. He strongly believes in the necessity of a global recasting of music teaching based on an holistic approach modelled after 18th-century music pedagogy, and his school, Songbird Music Academy, goes exactly in this direction.”
– Professor Giorgio Sanguinetti, Author of The Art of Partimento
Piano lessons for kids with Songbird Music Academy
Songbird’s partimento lessons are private one-on-one lessons, which can be held at the student’s house, or via Zoom online. Enquire at songbirdmusicacademy.com or via WhatsApp at 8809 2478.
Written in collaboration with:
Songbird Music Academy