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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Keyboard Geography: Learning to Visualize

In the second year, Green Turtle Shells, we learn how to look at the keyboard.  It may seem like a simple skill.  As adults we can see the patterns of the keyboard easily and in one glance we may have already memorized the characteristics of the keyboard.  However, children need these characteristics pointed out to them and it often takes weeks of practice for them to completely find their way around a piano.

Keyboard Geography is simply learning the look and feel of the keyboard so that one can visualize it.  The goal is to create a mental map of the keyboard.  If you think about a familiar place, the floor plan of your house for example, you can visualize it.  You could even draw a little map of it for someone else.  It is the same for the keyboard, but at first a child may only visualize a keyboard as barcode.  They know there are black and white keys and that is it.

Using "Kit Kat Keyboard" we help children notice the arrangement of black keys, in groups of two and three.  Once this conclusion is firm, we notice how the white keys are influenced by the black keys.  The black keys help us identify all of the white keys.  "A group of two is CDE...."

Once in the Yellow Arrows semester, students will begin naming all of the notes on the keyboard.  It is important to remember that keyboard geography is a mental image formed from visual conclusions!  Because of this we shouldn't use hints like "what comes after G?" or "Count up from C" when labeling the keyboard notes.  It would be better instead to prompt them by saying "Think about which group the G is in....Good, now where is the G?"

Now let's see how well you're children can visualize the keyboard!  Use these flash cards to practice naming all of you're white keys.

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