Teaching "By Ear" | Guest Blogger | Pittsburgh Portrait Photographer
I was born into a family of music teachers. Understandably, I have a love and appreciation for beautiful music. Music is a part of my family's daily life. For example, my children practice the piano and cello daily. We also enjoy eating international food and listening to music from that country while we eat dinner. I asked Donald Duncan, a professional trumpet player and private music teacher in Pittsburgh to share his expertise about helping kids learn music with other Pittsburgh families. Don teaches trumpet and trombone at Kathy's Music in Mt. Lebanon. - Laura
Teaching “By Ear”
When I teach trumpet to young players, ages 9-14, I try to not just have the student learn the language of reading music-reading the notes. But, by borrowing from the revered violin teacher Shinichi Suzuki, children learn best by imitation (that is true in many ways, as we know as parents!). But, playing “by ear” isn’t just a matter of playing without using the eyes. It is letting the ear plant a model of what needs to be done in the brain before playing the written notes. How do I do that? I play the piece of music that they are working on either on my trumpet, or on the piano for them as they are looking at the notes, watching the music go by, before they attempt at sight reading it. This makes the notes “come alive” for them before they have even attempted to play them.
I have four children, all of whom have played an instrument since age 5 or 6. This “playing by ear” method that I have described has bore excellent fruit. My two sons who played the violin since age 5 can now (ages 9 and 15) not only read music (which they had to work at also), but can improvise without hesitation and have no fear of hearing a melody and playing it, without seeing music. It is so fun! I can sit down at the piano, and we have a blast just playing together whether it is a hymn, jazz tune or worship chorus. They can play what they hear!
Practicing is hard for any child, no doubt, and learning to read music is absolutely necessary. But, this method gives them an excellent skill and fun “freedom” from just working on the next piece in the book. Try it with your young music student! It works!
Donald Duncan - Bio
Professional symphony orchestra trumpeter Donald Duncan has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Wichita Symphony, New Mexico Symphony, Wheeling (WV) Symphony and the National Repertory Orchestra. He has been on the teaching faculty at Wichita State University and the American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria. Donald has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wichita State University and a Masters of Music in Trumpet Performance degree from Arizona State University. He lives in Mt. Lebanon with his wife and their 4 children.
Don has preformed in many venues in the Pittsburgh area as a soloist with pianist Elizabeth Peters. They have done a historical journey/recital called, "Hornucopia" for library programs, retirement communities and school assemblies/events. With the use of over 25 different trumpets, Don weaves a variety of musical selections with the interesting stories and colorful history of the trumpet through the ages. From the conch shell, Jewish shofar and Spanish vuvuzela to all of the modern trumpets, people of all ages have enjoyed this fun and informative program. Donald can be reached by phone (316) 841-2860 or E-mail, [email protected].
Laura Mares is an experienced photographer specializing in capturing timeless family keepsakes. Laura works on location and in her fully equipped home studio, located in Mt. Lebanon, eight miles south of Pittsburgh, PA. Laura’s style is creative, natural, and timeless. Would you like your newborn baby photographed, updated child and family portraits or to document a milestone in your life such as a wedding, graduation, birthday or reunion? If you are interested in high quality, timeless photographs, book your session today, call (412) 654-3367 or email [email protected]. To view a wide range of gorgeous portraits and to get great tips, advice and beautiful inspiration follow us on Instagram and Facebook.
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