How A Child Sees The Piano
How a child sees the piano is quite different than what adults see. Kids are not as detail oriented, nor should they be, as they haven't been trained to be truly observant. The piano is a good training ground for observers. To a child, the piano is absurdly complex. For a child, a bicycle is less complex.
Put a pair of training wheels on the bicycle and now it is a useful toy. Our job, as piano teachers, is to make the piano into a useful toy. As it is, the piano is a confusingly complex piece of giant furniture.
Help The Child Find Order On The Keys
A child needs to see order in the piano right away, even if it is not the more complex order they will later see. They need to see the piano on their own level, which is terribly simplistic.
Angels We Have Heard On High
| 3 * 3 * | 3 * 5 * | 5 * * 4 | 3 * * * |
So we number the keys, which is as one-dimensional as possible. No differing, conflicting planes and dimensions, just familiar old numbers. Now the child can see how much fun it is just to play a simple, familiar song. Get them to play a dozen.
All the while, their eyes are taking in the keyboard, making valuable observations of which they are only dimly aware. So far, we have made the piano into a rather large, tuneful toy. Nothing to be frightened of here.
Reading Music Confuses Kids
But as soon as I introduce reading music, you can see the child shrink back. They can tell, "This is unfamiliar. This isn't easy like numbers." So I wait, because I can see the reaction. We stick to numbers because it is obvious they are comfortable with numbers. While we do this, we start other skills, which are easier than reading music, but will be useful when we get to it. Fingering, chords, playing with both hands. All are easy if you are only reading numbers.
Prepare For Reading Music
While the child develops skills and comfort with the keys, they are preparing themselves for reading music. A child who knows fingering, 20 songs, chords and can play with both hands is a better candidate for reading music. Why? The child is properly prepared.
From a child's point of view, like the bicycle training wheels, the toy has to suit their capabilities until those capabilities grow. Piano By Number gives the child that time to grow.