A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Help Your Kids With Music

Help Your Kids With MusicSo, yesterday, Bopps, wifey & I went out to eat with one of wifey’s friends after they got back from some librarian thing hosted at Columbia. I suspect there was a lot of shushing and existential questions starting with “Dewey, or don’t we…” After dinner we made a pit stop at Barnes & Noble so Bopps could work off some sugar (she built her own sundae and was heavy on the sprinkles).

After a while of setting her loose in the kids’ section, I left her with the lady-folk and went to the music section. They grabbed her some Peppa Pig books that she didn’t already have and I found something else: Help Your Kids With Music, from DK Publishing. I have some of their other books, and they’re pretty informative.

I flipped through it a little and was impressed with the diagrams and sheer breadth of information in the book. When I opened it, I randomly started on the triads section, and its illustrations and concise descriptions got my attention. Those of you who have followed my ramblings for any length of time know I have a collection of music-related books which I’ll never really work through, but irrationally amass anyway. This one reads like an even-friendlier edition of Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People, which I also really dug.

So, later that night, I was going through the book in bed and Bopps comes into the room, because her sleeping habits are borderline mine – which isn’t a good thing. We looked through maybe the first 50 pages together, and she was really into it. The pictures drew her in. She used the piano diagrams to “play” and sing aloud Doe a Deer, Mary Had a Little Lamb and some other stuff. She was reading notes to me, and asking a hundred questions about other stuff she was seeing. It really had her engaged.

We reviewed notes and rests, some of which she’s learning in class. Earlier this week, she saw me going through an exercise in Building Rock Bass Lines and since she knew the difference between high and low notes (bass & treble clef) but my book deals only with bass clef, we applied it to what I was working on and sang some of the octave lessons – so she basically says “high” or “low” depending on if she’s seeing a root or octave. We did this with exercises that used mainly quarter notes, eighth notes and rests. She got a kick out of it. She especially likes singing the “pumping 8th note” stuff. The faster we have to call out notes, the funnier she thinks it is.

Anyway, she did the same thing with examples throughout this new book, and ended up singing through 16th notes and even seeing what a 32nd and 64th note looks like – which also allowed me to put the word tremolo in her head and explain that some of the really fast notes are played in metal.

I like that, when she slows down, she even counts the durations. I got her to understand whole notes (do-2-3-4) and reviewed half notes (do-2) and quarter notes (do). The 8ths and 16ths were new to her (“do-do” and “do-do-do-do”, both in the same amount of time it would take to sing a quarter note). I don’t know if she truly understood/kept time with the 32nd ones, and we didn’t try the 64ths.

But, anyhow. If you’re interested in theory, this is actually a great book to get. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and by that count, this book is worth hundreds of thousands of words. Because its meant to help parents aid their kids when learning music, its written from a standpoint that isn’t super-technical. I really like it. There are basically pictures and diagrams along with brief conceptual descriptions and then factoids. Check out the “Look inside” thing on Amazon to get a better feel for what I’m talking about.

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