- Reviewed on Wednesday, March 24, 2010
- Grades Used: PK-K
- Dates used: 2009-present
Note-This review refers to the Music For Little Mozarts books and materials sold by Alfred Publications, not the Music for Little Mozarts classes using such materials.
I admit that I hadn't expected to like this curriculum, with the cute little animal characters and stuffed toys. As a music teacher, I am of the "wait to start piano until their hands are bigger and can sit still" camp, usually recommending Kindermusik for younger children. As a parent, I'm of the "what's the rush" camp, preferring to make education a relaxed experience for young children. However, my DD, at age 4 1/2, decided she wanted to play piano NOW-and after looking through a large number of curriculum resources, this is what she liked. And after we'd worked with it a bit, I discovered I did, too
Good points-Comprehensive. If you use the workbook, lesson book, and discovery book with the CD set, you have music theory, music performance, instrumental skills, singing, movement, and music literature in one curriculum. There is a teacher's guide, but it's not really needed-directions are in the various books, and the CD set includes the samples laid out for you. This book easily covers music education standards for grades K-2, while also preparing a child for further piano study. By the end of book 2, the child will be playing in C position, with both hands separately and alternating. By the end of book 4, students play with two hands together and do simple chording, in C and G position, and use accidentals. Traditional notation is introduced from the first lesson, with the staff introduced towards the end of book 1 and early in book 2. As the curriculum is laid out, the expectation is one 12 week semester per book, and 2 semesters per year, but this will depend on your child and their prior experience with music.
There are several supplemental books designed to correspond to books 1/2 and books 3/4. My DD especially likes the "Little Mozarts go to Church" ones, because she recognizes most of the songs and the Christmas books. The pop books have been less of a hit, because many of the songs are not familiar to her due to being from TV shows and movies she hasn't seen. We have not purchased the halloween book or the character solos.
The curriculum is appealing to young children, especially those who enjoy the story telling, and is repetitive enough on piano skills that a young child feels like they're making progress without moving on before they're truly ready. The magnet/write on staff board is very nice. I also like the supplemental books. This series takes what would normally be covered in Primer piano, and breaks it down into four books with a lot of exploratory learning. Hand positions are taught, but fingerings are kept simple early on to allow young children to work within the limitations of their small hand size.
As a parent, I find this book easy for me to use. The lessons are divided up into a story sequence, with each week's story to read together followed by activities. Discovery book activities and initially presenting the songs are done together, but the child can then practice on their own-the practice sequence is the same from lesson to lesson. The workbook pages will be easy for any child who can read to do independently. If your child cannot read, you will need to read the instructions aloud.
As long as a parent knows enough about playing piano to be able to teach hand position, posture, and finger numbers, they should be fine with this series.
If your child doesn't get into cute little animals with names like Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear, I'd avoid this curriculum. For this reason, it's not a good fit for older and younger children working together.
Expect to pay about $36/semester for the basic materials alone, not counting teacher's guides. Unless you use plastic overlays, don't expect to be able to reuse any of the regular texts (workbook/lesson/discovery) with another child, and these materials are unlikely to be available used, because they are definitely intended to be consumable. If you get supplemental books or teacher's guides, you will pay more.
There is a book 1 Deluxe Starter set for $50 that includes the books, CD set the staff board/magnets, and the two stuffed animals. I don't see the animals as necessary, but the Staffboard/magnets are worth getting if you don't have something equivalent already at home, and if you're just starting out, it's worth it to go ahead and buy the set.
The flashcards are a nice addition, but can easily be made at home.
Note on the CDs-the lesson book CD includes both the story segments and the songs. If you're using this for listening in the car, and you use an Ipod on shuffle, as I do, I suggest copying just the songs to the Ipod, because otherwise the story will DRIVE YOU CRAZY! The discovery CD is less prone to this effect.
Conclusion-I recommend this as a gentle music education curriculum, incorporating piano, which can be taught at home for the preschool/kindergarten age group. After completing this course, most children will be enthusiastic about playing the piano and about music, and ready for the more rapid pace of traditional study. Parent involvement required is at a medium level, in that the parent should expect to teach at least one or two formal lessons a week, and supervise practice. Parent should have some piano experience themselves. This is more comprehensive and incorporates more listening than other early piano methods, such as Pianimals, but also requires more direct teaching on the part of the parent.
I would recommend a more traditional piano method, like Faber and Faber's Piano Adventures for children over age 6, due to the repetition and cute characters in these books.