Minimum age to start Accompaniment Stream
Joan H., Ontario
Is there a minimum age you would suggest for students to start the accompaniment stream? I teach a family of 3 brothers age 5, 7 and 9. The 9 yr old has begun F2, the 5 and 7 yr old are nearly done F1. I am thinking to start the 9 yr old on Accompaniment 1, and expect the 7 yr old as well. Wondering if I should also include the 5 yr old (he will be 6 in June) in this since I teach them together, or whether he is too young. I am just referring to Robin’s most helpful info sent a few months back, regarding intro of Comp./Improv, Arrangements and Accompaniment, and I quote “Really, everyone is capable of learning accompaniment very early on.”
Just wanted to hear from you regarding your use of this Stream with younger students. Many thanks.
Irene S., Ontario
My experience in regards to accompaniment with the real little ones, is that they are able grasp the concepts. It is their little hands that sometimes need some extra encouragement. I sometimes get them started with the chords, playing just fingers 1 and 5, (and sometimes, just 1 and 3) and let them know that when their fingers are ready, they will add the third finger. I find that the young ones learn to love the accompaniment – especially the book: “Songs for Children”.
Maureen K., California
I taught accompaniment to two six-year-olds, using Elizabeth Gaikwad’s Songs for Children. They enjoyed the pieces and had no trouble learning the simple accompaniment style. They are now 7 1/2 and are using the Accompaniment program. Probably I should have streamed both alongside of each other… I was a new teacher trying to figure it all out. I would think Accompaniment would be fine for your 5 and 7 year olds, and would recommend Songs for Children as a repertoire.
[answer author="Robin Keehn, Washington"]
Well, it’s me again! I know you wanted to hear from others, but….if the 5 year old can form chords, then he can learn to play songs with chords (accompaniment). The only issue that I see is his fine motor skills and being able to get three fingers down for that RH triad. If he can do that, he can easily learn the chord shapes and the ratios (together-right or together-right-right).
The Accompaniment Program is so accessible for all of our students. I’ve seen young six year olds playing Christmas Carols in our Christmas concerts just three months into lessons. They accompany singers and instrumentalists and they do it SO well. It always makes a big impression on everyone!
I hope that helps and that you hear from other teachers who have taught Accompaniment at the beginning to young children!
Regardless of age, I begin Accompaniment when a student can play Amazing Grace in Foundation One.
I feel like as long as they can form the chords, age doesn’t have much to do with it. My youngest student (5 1/2 when we started accompaniment -which was right after Amazing Grace) is as good or better than any of my other students at accompaniment. She also has considerable smaller hands than all of my students. And not only did she not have a problem with it, she found it quite easy and felt like that was the easiest part of her playlist. She could get from chord to chord easily and play smoothly without pauses. I actually didn’t start the accompaniment book in F1 though, I just started Songs for Children so it was songs that she enjoyed. In hindsight though, I realize I could have started the accompaniment book at that same time.
Either way, this student has helped me realize that with EVERYTHING I have come across in Simply Music, that I try to not make judgment calls based on age, but more on each student. I am surprised at what some 5 or 6 year olds can do easily, that some 8 or 9 year olds struggle with- but all of them get it, either I go more slowly with some or with some extra work. In the beginning I was constantly concerned with introducing certain things because of this youngest student when I finally realized that she was getting everything as fast or faster than most of her class. So, I just began trusting the process more knowing that Neil designed this program so that even the young ones could do it as long as they were practicing at home and kept their playlist alive.