Helping Your Child Find Middle C
Middle C is the first location at the piano keyboard that your child must find and memorize. Lower down on the page is a drawing of the note “Middle C.” Before you find it, let’s ask why we must find it. To a child the piano keyboard is a fascinating but daunting maze of black and white keys, with no apparent order.
To give kids a feeling of security you need to give them a visual reference point, a home base. Middle C is that home base. In Piano by Number we put the sticker numbered one on Middle C. This begins the process of giving the child security through a visual reference point.
No matter what method you use, Middle C will be home base, the center of the universe. Your child needs to be able to find it instinctively, both on the keyboard and the page.
Start By Finding Middle C
In Piano by Number we put the sticker numbered one on Middle C to begin the process of giving the child security through a visual reference point. Later, we will put a red sticker on Middle C to further distinguish it from all other notes. Here’s a page with lots of Middle C.
Play a game of finding all the Cs on the piano. The note C is defined as the white key to the left of any group of TWO black keys. Clearly, to do this you first need to play a game distinguishing between groups of two black keys and three black keys.
Middle C Games
I usually take two fingers and place them on a group of two black keys, and ask the child to find the note C, on the left of the two black keys. Once again, there is a prior step (or “precursor skill“) that must be mastered, and that is the concept of left and right. Next play a game wherein you point to a C on the piano and ask them if it is Middle C.
Kids are barely sure where any C is, much less one particular C. You must use games again and again to cement this principle in their heads without boring or alienating them. Be like a game show host, with valuable prizes waiting backstage.
Drive this game into he ground, springing a quiz on them whenever possible. All that is necessary is a 10 second quiz that tests for their retention of the idea and location of Middle C.
Break Down Skills Into Smaller Skills
If the Piano by Number method has a consistent principle, it is breaking musical skills down to their lowest common denominator. Examine how we do this with Middle C.
Finding it really involves four skills, each of which should be separately learned so the child knows the process from the inside out. The child should not rely on the sticker entirely. Here is the process children need to undergo to really understand WHY Middle C is where it is:
- First, we distinguish between the groups of two and three black keys.
- Second, we make sure the child knows left from right at the piano.
- Third, we find all the white keys named C directly to the left of any group of two black keys.
- Fourth, we distinguish between all the white keys named C, and single out the one most in the center of the keyboard as “Middle C.”
A Slow Procedure Ensures Security
This breakdown procedure is good for the student and good for the teacher. For the student, the learning process moves at exactly their speed, and cannot move at any other pace because each step is based on the last.
For the teacher, there is firm knowledge that a skill is mastered, leaving the teacher free to go on to the next step. Learning beginning piano is really a set of steps, each of which involves several previously learned skills.
Success for children art the piano involves making each skill easily manageable. Proceed to the next step based on confidence with the last. A confident child is ready to understands new ideas.