Mountain Home Music School got its start January 2011. The Harmony Road Music Program is not new. Harmony Road is an internationally acclaimed program for teaching toddlers through adults, Music, Singing, Keyboard, Piano, Ear Training.
The Harmony Road Music Course has evolved from a lifetime of musical involvement with children.
Harmony Road founder, writer and composer, Jan Keyser, developed The Music in Me, the first courses in 1981 and has continued to provide high quality,
research based curriculums to fill the needs of young students and their families.
Jan continues to serve as an advocate for Early Childhood Music and Movement Association.
Parent involvement is a key factor in student success. The Harmony Road Program guides Parents or caregivers in ways to keep the family in a musical “mode” at home.
Harmony Road Music Course is a comprehensive musicianship program using solfege singing, movement, and piano/keyboard to teach musical concepts and audiation (inner hearing). The first book in the series, was introduced in 1981. Jan recognized the need for an introduction to musical concepts which would involve the whole child through active participation in movement, singing, rhythms, keyboard and creative activities. All Harmony Road materials evolved thorough testing in classroom settings. Approximately 30,000 children across the United States are currently enrolled in music schools offering the Harmony Road Courses.
Today the curriculum consists of 26 books and five distinct age appropriate courses beginning with toddlers and continuing to age 11 — plus a course for teens and adults. The curriculum is carefully designed to layer pitch, rhythmic patterns, and song content. For example, a child of seven may play a solo or ensemble which was first experienced as a movement or singing activity in Toddler Tunes (18 months to 3). This layering process is unique to the Harmony Road Music Course.
Harmony Road Courses use the European fixed DO solfege system. (If you know the song “Do a Deer” from Sound of Music, you know the basics of solfege.) Solfege singing encourages strong development of pitch and prepares the student for successful performing, composing, and arranging experiences. Because of this vocal approach to playing, students develop great sensitivity for expressiveness, articulations, and balance of voices on the piano.
The music in the method is varied to include classical to contemporary styles and harmonic content. Students are trained to compose, arrange and improvise after they have achieved an understanding of melodic development and harmonic progressions. This broad-based development of musicianship provides the student with excellent skills for critical listening and confident performance of repertoire.
Harmony Road supports parent involvement in class and at home. The involvement of the parent creates a team approach which enriches the whole musical experience. We hope that music will become a natural part of the students daily life. Children experience musical concepts and absorb patterning through ear training, singing and rhythmic activities. As skills grow, students will become comfortable with note reading and keyboard performance areas. Strong singing skills will enhance the students total musical development.
The Learning Process
At Harmony Road, we learn by doing. Imitative singing – to develop pitch and learn melodic patterns. . . . . by copy . . . . . by ear with hints . . . . . by ear. Repetition is critical to develop musical memory. Short patterns will soon become a part of longer phrases.
Audiation or “inner hearing” is critical to the development of total musicianship. Audiation occurs when children are exposed to musical patterns, rhythms, and harmonies that they can store in their musical mind. Because children are so conscious of sounds in early childhood – a wide range of key centers, meters, and harmonic content are provided for them to experience through movement, singing, chanting, and the use of manipulative’s. Remember – the voice is the most natural musical instrument and processing patterns through the voice helps the child store the patterning in the ear.
Developing the Solfege Connection
Solfege is naming the notes of the scale using the syllables DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and TI. Solfege becomes the means for internalizing pitch and the solfege notes become the child’s musical language. The use of fixed DO solfege (DO is always C) encourages the development of a very strong sense of tonality and relative pitch. Tracking pitches on the keyboard while singing the solfege makes the ear, voice, and tactile connection. As the child begins to read music – he hears the patterning when he sees the notes!
Developing the Tactile Connection
Researchers have also discovered the importance of the tactile sense in early childhood – especially in musical growth. Basic small percussion instruments help the child find his rhythmic pulse. Exploring sounds on a keyboard brings the pitch the child has heard and sung into a concrete experience he can hear, touch, sing, and feel! Tracking pitches with a pointer finger enables the child to learn the sequences of pitches and such concepts as high, low, middle, going up, going down, and staying the same. The ear, voice and keyboard become a partner in the learning process.
Developing Music Reading Readiness
Very young children cannot understand abstract concepts of note reading, but they can be introduced to basic reading readiness activities (ages 3-4). Learning about high notes and low notes is fun when the child has the opportunity to use manipulative’s such as note magnets on a magnetic board. The concept will be meaningful if it is experienced physically first. Other concepts that will gradually be introduced include – stepping up, stepping down, notes on lines, notes on spaces, and going up and down with scale songs. When the child is secure with these basic concepts, short patterns which are being sung may be introduced on the staff.