Frequently Asked Questions
What age is Little Musician suitable for?
Little Musician was largely designed with infants and toddlers in mind.
However, like with Little Reader, the suitability depends not so much on the age, but on the level of familiarity the child already has with the musical concepts being taught.
We have therefore seen children from very different age groups enjoying Little Musician. In fact, even adults who were previously unfamiliar with music concepts appear to be benefiting from it.
What if my baby cannot talk/sing yet?
Even if your baby/toddler is not able to talk or sing, you should still sing out to your child and encourage her to sing along as best as she can. Listening to a ‘live’ voice is much more effective than just listening to recorded audio that’s played out through computer speakers.
What if I can’t sing in tune?
Of course, it would be preferable that your singing is in tune. However, your singing is very likely to be better than you think it is, and the advantage of ‘live’ singing probably outweighs any pitch inaccuracies that you might have. If in doubt, sing, and sing shamelessly! Who knows, you may even improve your singing the more you do it! At the very least, you are giving your child the message that singing is a natural thing that is nothing to be shy or embarrassed about.
Can this replace music classes?
No. Little Musician is not a substitute for music classes, especially where learning a musical instrument is concerned.
However, we expect that Little Musician will likely make it easier for your child to learn an instrument since many of the musical concepts that are required in the learning of the instrument will already be familiar to your child. Having a better-developed ear for music and note recognition will certainly also help with any instrument your child may choose to learn.
And lastly, Little Musician may also serve to give your child a much wider understanding of music in areas which may not be covered in the music classes.
What type of music classes would you recommend?
We like music classes that encourage singing in addition to the learning of music instruments. Classes which use solfège will most likely do that.
Group classes may also have an advantage over private classes if they incorporate group activities like ensemble playing or group singing, or give your child opportunities to perform in front of the other students.
If the course involves exams and grades, we would recommend you find out how much time is spent on practicing set pieces with the goal focused on doing well in the exams, and how much time is spent more on understanding and enjoying the instrument or enjoying music. If the course is more exam-centric, then consider whether this may help to diminish (or even completely kill) your child’s enjoyment of music and playing the instrument.
Why does Little Musician seem unconventional in many ways?
There are many ways that Little Musician is unconventional, especially when compared to classical music training. For example:
- No Note Stems – Most of the lessons omit the note stem and show only the note head. The reason for this is that the aim of the lessons is to highlight how the positioning of a note on the musical staff (higher/lower) corresponds to its pitch. We believe there is greater clarity and focus when do not deal with note stems and note values. To teach note values, we use dedicated rhythm syllable lessons that are introduced in Semester 2.
- Different colors and icons for note heads – We primarily use rainbow colored-notes for easier solfège association. We also substitute fun icons like baby faces in place of note heads to make lessons more enjoyable and fun for the child.
- Accidentals instead of key signatures – Our general preference is to show accidentals beside the note instead of showing the key signature, in order to make the accidental more obvious to the child.
- Other markings and highlight effects – You will also notice that we often highlight or use colors to emphasize certain things. For example, when notes are played, we often show a green highlight of the entire line or space of the staff in order to make the note’s position more obvious.
Other things you may also wish to note:
- Solfege system – For those familiar with solfège, we chose to use “So” and “Ti” instead of “Sol” and “Si”, although you will be able to change this manually. We also use different syllables for black keys, such as “Di” for C#. Lastly, we chose to use the Fixed Do system over Movable Do as this is more consistent with our efforts to teach note and chord recognition.
- Note Names – In Semesters 1 and 2, we do not use note names (C, D, E, etc.) at all. As mentioned, the focus is on solfège, so as to encourage the singing out of the notes. Note names will be introduced in Semester 3.
- Treble/Bass Clef – In Semesters 1 and 2, we also focus primarily on treble clef when the musical staff is shown, and not the bass clef. Bass clef has more prominence in Semester 3.
There are problems with the sound!
Those of you with older / slower computers may experience problems with some of the lessons playing back smoothly, in particular, the Rhythm lessons or songs presets which play out voice audio in real time. These lessons require a lot of computer power which older computers may not have.
The sound quality of the instruments you hear also depends on the quality of your computer’s sound card. Computers with old or low-budget sound cards may reproduce instrument sounds (such as during the children songs) that sound unrealistic or ‘computerized’.