All posts by Dominique

Singaporean Educator, Coach and Hands on Mom of Three. Connect with me on Google+

The curse of the kiddy rides revisits

The curse has descended upon our family again. I used to be able to walk pass the rows of kiddy rides en-route to the supermarket to do my grocery shopping. However as Roy blossoms from a baby to a toddler the colourful and musical coin operated rides are getting too tempting for him to pass without attempting to get on for a ride.

These rides comes in all sorts and sizes with ever popular Barney, Sesame street, Bob the builder, Wiggles ,Thomas the train characters attached on them. Capitvated by the pint sized cars, trains, helicopters that he sees neatly placed in a row outside the shops, Roy’s eyes light up and he tried to wiggle out of the restrains of the pram.

These rides really burn a hole in your pocket if you are blackmailed into inserting coins for them to operate. Each 5 minute ride can set you back from $0.20-$2 a pop. At last count we had to pass by at least 15 of such rides irregardless of which path we take through the shopping mall to the supermarket. ( Talk about strategic placement!!)

Luckily Roy has yet to figure out that these machines require coins to activate and he is happy just being placed inside and madly turning the steering wheel.

I remember when Ryan was around this age, he too was mad over such rides and still now. Being smarter and wiser now he knows that if he asks his doting grandparents instead of me for small change. He realised that there is a higher chance of him getting the money needed for the ride if he approached the “correct” person with his request.

Now I have to figure out how to ” peacefully ” tear Roy away from these rides so that we can get a move on home before the ice-cream starts to melt after we completed our grocery shopping. Any suggestions?

Which piano method?


It’s Music Time!! “YEAH!!” replied Ryan extremely excited that he will be having a fun music session.

Since my elder boy turned 3yr old I felt that it is the right time to in

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership 2008 Sp...
Image via Wikipedia

troduce him to formal music lessons. From young he has always been very interested in music. He has been humming tunes taught to him from birth and loves moving his body to music whenever he hears catchy tunes on the television or radio.

Being personally schooled in classical music since young, I know that it would be an advantage for him to learn music as it will enhance his overall development. I started him out in the Alfred method of learning which focuses on both theory & practical aspects of the piano. However after two to three months of trying I realized that the Suzuki Method is more suitable for him.

Here is my take on both methods

Alfred Method

Ryan started out on Alfred’s Prep Course – Lesson Book (Level A). This book is full of colourful illustrations and catchy tunes. It even comes with a CD which plays all the tunes taught in the book. Initially Ryan was interested to play the songs in the book. However when he graduated to (Level B) and had to play both right and left hand simultaneously and keep beat to the music he started to get frustrated with it.

I feel that it was quite a tall order for a 3yr old to be able to read the notes, follow the score and play in sync as the book is recommended for 5yrs and up.

Even though through his music lesson he has learned how to read the staves, notes and note values it is not easy to co-ordinate both right and left hand while playing a piece of music. Not wanting to kill his enthausiam in learning the piano I decided to switch him to the Suzuki method.

Suzuki Method

Developed by Shinichi Suzuki, a Japanese violinist,who believed that every child is capable of a high level of musical achievement. It emphasises on variations based on repetition of famous tunes like twinkle twinkle little stars. Students learn music by focusing on hearing then on sight reading.

Suzuki Piano School Piano Book, Vol.1 By Shinichi Suzuki is the book Ryan is currently learning. Even though he has just started on the book I can see a rapid improvement in his attitude towards his piano lessons. He is now more willing to listen to his piano teacher and follow her instructions. He is also much happier as he is able to complete the songs more easily as it is easy to follow.

The focus on repetition/variation on twinkle twinkle little star emphasized on cultivating proper fingering and following the different rhythms/beats. I feel that it is very important to have the proper finger positioning to be able to play piano well. If one develops bad fingering practices, they will face problems playing complicated tunes, fingerings when they progress to higher grades.

Knowing how to count the beats and applying them to practical piano, the child also learns about rhythm and co-ordination. It teaches them how to be focused and also builds up their self-esteem/self-confidence as they able to show their “accomplishments” through playing the tunes.

In Wikipedia the Con mentioned about this method is it’s “rote learning” and that it may stifle creativity in musical expression. I disagree with this point for young children learn best through repetition.

In conclusion I definately recommend parents of young children to let your child try the Suzuki method if you are choosing the piano as their 1st instrument. I would also suggest that you supplement their learning with theory lesson so that they get a more comprehensive musical experience.