Neil’s Free Introductory Session
Today we are going to talk about the method, how it was created , what results we achieve, how we achieve those results and I’ll demonstrate the method and give you a chance to ask questions and have them answered. For those of you who would like to enroll, you can do that.
Who here has never had a piano lesson in their life?
Who here currently plays piano?
Anyone here an advanced player or a teacher?
Who here thinks that they are not musical?
Who here thinks they are not musical but are two embarrassed
The program is a breakthrough. Breakthrough is an overused work but when I say this program is a breakthrough I mean something specifically. I’m not saying this program is better than traditional methods. What I mean is that this program produces results that are a geometric leap beyond what people have considered possible in music education. It culturally redefines what it means to be musical. It culturally redefines who is capable of teaching music. There are four things about SM that have it stand apart from any other program.
Initially it is the quantity of music that students learn to play;
And the quality of the music that they are playing from the beginning;
The speed at which students learn;
And the Ease that they experience in learning.
And I get asked, how does the program do that? What is about SM that is different from traditional programs?
Let’s define traditional lessons (hold up a piece of music). Symbols that represent written music. In any country around the world where these symbols are used to represent music, there is a way of teaching that goes hand in hand with that. And I call that approach a Reading Based Approach.
If I were a traditional teacher teaching a reading based approach, we’d learn that each of the keys on the keyboard have a name ABCDEFG. Each of these keys have a way of being written on this page. And I’d teach you the code how to decode the symbols so you knew which notes to play. And we’d learn FACE and then the lines EGBDF (every good boy etc). So, you’d learn how to decode these symbols. That’s language one. Then there is another language which is rhythm which is really math. You’d learn about Quarter, Half, Whole Eight, Sixteenth notes…..your ability to decode the symbols and translate the math dictates your ability to play.
There are consequences to teaching this way: One study reported 11 million unused pianos in American households, piano lessons have highest failure rate of any taught subject and children quit when their parents no longer require them to take lessons. It’s not a lot of fun.
SM is not a reading based approach. SM is a playing based approach. Quite simply, in the beginning we temporarily delay the reading process. And we teach you to play by immersing you in playing. And, I think that is completely natural.
See you and I got to talk for years before we got to read and spell. So, if we took the traditional approach to music and applied it to language I’d say, from now on, all infants have to read and spell before they can learn to talk. That’s really preposterous but that is what we have done in music education for the past few centuries. It is a completely different experience when you work inside a playing based environment. When you are not having to focus on how to decode the symbols you are free to relate directly to the instrument.
This program is based on the premise that everyone, without exception, is profoundly musical. Even those people who are convinced they are not.
(pick a person who indicated they were not musical). Ask them to help you out with something. Go for a walk, act out a scene. Having a debate. What do you like to talk about. Walk around the room with me. So, tell me about (whatever—a hobby, a job)
So _________and I were talking. We were completely absorbed in the conversation and completely oblivious to this: snap snap, walk walk, left right….
Is it true for you that you haven’t got a musical bone in your body? I’d be wanting you to see that sentence. (Say it—I haven’t got a musical bone in my body) Everyone join me…beautiful complex rhythm, no thinking, no theory no math. See, what happens little children hear their parents talking, begin to babble, words become sentences, 3-4 years of age they are talking fully. They never learned to read or write but they have a mastery over language and complex rhythms. It is that musicality that gives us that ability to walk and our musicality that gives us our ability to talk. We are nothing but music machines. We walk into the bathroom and pick up our toothbrush and go chchcchchhc….That’s musicality. And this program has a way of just taking that and we can translate that into you playing this repertoire of you playing fantastic music right away, from your very first lessons.
If you’ve never had a piano lesson before you have to start somewhere. Very often when you start you will not really know your fingers. You’ll want to have this finger play but it doesn’t quite know how to do that. One option is learning scales. It is kindof boring and not much fun and I can promise you that you will never go to dinner and have someone say, “Oh, you’re having piano lessons, sit down and play us some scales!” See , its more fun to play songs…they have a beginning, middle and end and they sound good and it’s just more fun. We are not focused on producing concert pianists. This is a program for people who want to have music as a companion in their lives. Come home from work and spend an hour playing the piano—play pop, blues, classical. But you have to start somewhere.
We work on 4 categories, POP, BLUES AND JAZZ, CLASSICAL and ACCOMPANIMENT.
In fact, I’m going to play you a couple of things. A very simple piece and will sing it as I do. DREAMS…. That piece fits into the pop stream…the way music is put together in a more popular fashion And, Night Storm fits in to that genre as well but a different mood. Next play FE…classical, different from Alma Mater Blues….blues. a lot of fun to play, fun to learn, really easy. Then Accompaniment….it is. Your birthday, out comes the cake and I sit down and everyone sings happy birthday. I am not playing happy birthday, I am playing what everyone sings along to.
What’s really great about accompaniment….it is the canvas that the painting goes on, the mattress that the melody rests on . Its so great, so simple easy. What’s cool about Accomp it is like a musical lego kit. You have these pieces that you can just dismantle them and put them together and create another song and another and its just a great skill to have. It is very exciting, really inspiring, tremendous incentive for people to move forward because you get great results from the beginning.
Incidentally, these pieces that I’ve played are where our total beginners start. You start here. You learn theses very songs. In fact, within your first 8 or 10 lessons you’d have 8 or 10 songs of that standard that you’d be playing from beginning to end with both hands. That is just the norm with this program.
Let me tell you about how this method came about. Neil had been coaching teachers for years and he received a call from a government agency asking him to teach Wade, 8 yo, blind child. Reading was out of the question. Neil, non-traditional experience of learning piano as a child. He would watch, listen and have the ability to remember what had been played by seeing music as shapes and patterns. He was supposed to be learning how to read. By the time he was in his teens, he was playing an advanced repertoire. He learned by ear but memorized pieces because he saw shapes and patterns. Neil decided to teach Wade the way music had occurred for him as a child. About three months down the track, he asked his dad about his progress—Wade’s dad was thrilled but he was especially excited because Wade was teaching his 4 year old sister and she was blind too. Neil thought he would develop a program for little children but the program made playing the piano accessible to people of all ages.
VIDEO—We are going to watch a brief DVD about Simply Music. It will give you a perspective outside of (the town you live in)
I am going to take three words and turn them into three musical sentences. Do Ode to Joy Demo here.
How many people here drive a car? How many places today? How many last month…How many on a daily basis? You are not using a street map, its like the car invisibly gets there. You can be talking, listening to the radio and you still get there. Why? Because the brain is a pattern seeking device. We lay our instructions out on the road. Turn left at the house with the boat, go past the pink house, turn left etc.
It is the same with this program. We show you a way of how to lay your instructions out on the instrument. Now what I just showed you here (board), is just a tiny snapshot of a fully comprehensive, fully structured curriculum that starts by building a rep of 50 songs in your first year which are relatively advanced, mature sounding sophisticated pieces of music.
This program taps into the skills you use on a daily basis. The second year we begin to weave in the reading process. The way we teach you to read is profoundly different. With that as the foundation we teach you advanced accompaniment skills and give you a vast repertoire of classical, jazz blues, arrangements, accompaniment and with a strong foundation in reading we work on more advanced jazz and more advanced composition and improvisation. This is a fully expanded curriculum and there are four goals with this program:
Goal number one is that we produce students who experience playing as a natural self expression;
That we produce students ability to play huge repertoire;
That students can self generate –progress on their own;
And that students have a highly self affirming experience. You get to feel great about yourself because it is victory after victory after victory.
Personal studio requirements and information here.
Original discussion started March 21, 2012