Colourstrings: Our music education of choice
2 years ago / in Learning
For 1 year now, Little Claire has been attending the Colourstrings music classes at the prestigious Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) School of Music. Today, we had our last class for the fall term and families were invited to sit in on the class and observe what the kids had been up to.
I HAD A BALL!
The entire class was totally fun for all (teachers and kids) to say the least. But most of all, watching the way in which the teachers deliver concepts of music, and how much the kids seemed to enjoy the entire process, while (somewhat-unknowingly) learning so much, was just fabulous.
What are Coloustrings music classes?
The Coloustrings classes offered by VSO School of Music for children aged 0 to 6 years are “designed to build the foundations of music learning in a fun and highly interactive way. In every class children will sing, dance, play a variety of percussion instruments and be introduced to a wide range of orchestral instruments through listening to live and recorded music.
These classes are based on the Colourstrings Kindergarten approach”, which is “based on the Kodaly method of music education, using solfa and hand signs to develop children’s inner hearing. The Colourstrings method creates a solid musical foundation for children from the earliest ages. Musical concepts are learnt through hearing, moving, singing and playing. Most importantly, Colourstrings classes are designed to develop children’s love of music, and create a launch pad for their future musical education, whatever direction they may take.”
N.B. I’m mostly quoting from the VSO School of Music website above. They do a really good job in explaining what these classes are.
“Colourstrings is Kodály-based and was born in 1977 by Hungarian brothers Professor Géza Szilvay and Csaba Szilvay who revolutionised music education in Finland to such an extent that Colourstrings has become an integral part of the Finnish state music school system.” ~ Coloustrings website
Why we chose to start with Colourstrings
After we settled in to Vancouver last year, I started to look for activities for Little Claire and came to know about Colourstrings. It is a relatively less widely known approach to music education, but I was particularly drawn to its emphasis on establishing a musical foundation in the early years without getting a child attached to a particular instrument just yet. The foundation of musicianship would then become a strong basis for furthering their musicianship and for learning any instrument of choice as they progress into the years.
Traditional music education usually starts with an instrument of choice, often coupled with theories of music. I’m not trying to take anything away from this method, as I’m sure it more than has its place, and I truly believe that music education itself is a privilege. And having spent 10 years learning Yamaha’s electronic organ, the now less globally popular electone, I am forever grateful for such privilege myself. Although I loved and really enjoyed learning music from childhood through to teenage and adult years (I took up piano in my early 20’s, years after I stopped practising Electone), I always feel that something is missing. That something, I believe, is a strong foundation in music concepts and fundamentals. My own music education background and experience opens up my mind to accept Colourstrings as a different take in teaching and learning music for my own little one.
“It is essential, particulary in the early years, that instrumental teaching is of the highest quality. These formative first years are crucial for the child’s future in music.” ~ Coloustrings website
Brownie point #1: They offer classes to kiddos starting from a young age. At the time, Little Claire hadn’t turned 3 and there was only a handful of classes for her age that we were interested in. She has always been interested in music, singing and dancing since very young, so the description of the Colourstrings classes sounded like a natural, perfect fit. We enrolled her into the 2-3 year old group (which requires a parent/guardian to accompany the child in class) just to try it out and see if it is for us, as well as to start easing her into attending classes in preparation for school.
Brownie point #2: All the Coloustrings teachers at the VSO School of Music are trained by Colourstrings UK and have a wealth of musical qualifications and experience as well as passion for teaching early years music. Seriously, their resumes are impressive!
Brownie point #3: From what I could see, there are 2 schools in Vancouver that offer Colourstrings classes for children. One of them is the prestigious VSO School of Music which is only a short walk away from where we live, so it was an easy fit into our schedules which still involved naps at the time (if you have kids you’ll know what I mean).
If you love learning something, you’ll get better results.
We are not in a rush to get Little Claire playing an instrument (although she has repeatedly said that she would love to). As she is still focusing on exercises to strengthen her finger muscles in preparation for learning to write, I don’t see that she has the finger muscle strength to handle a musical instrument just yet.
It is also very important to us that she enjoys not only what she learns, but the process of learning it. We love that she looks forward to all of her classes. She would ask when she can go again, and she misses her classes during breaks and holidays. She fully participates in class, occasionally showing little bursts of excitement, likes her teachers, and repeats the songs and movements they do in class at home.
I notice that she has developed more confidence with her voice and singing, and she seems to have gotten a better hold of her sense of beats and rhythms.
Where to find Colourstrings classes
Colourstrings is most popular in Europe, and relatively not as widely known and available across the globe yet, with only a handful of trained and certified teachers in the world. The Colourstrings website (and Google) is a good place to start if you wanna learn more and find teachers or schools providing this method of music education in your area.
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