Why I Chose the Yamaha School
By Yamaha Parent Jeanne Hayes
Mitch and I considered at-home piano lessons and other music schools closer to our house, but chose Yamaha because of their "whole child" approach to music education. In short, we were impressed: the program included ear training, solfege singing, and rhythm training through movement, in addition to piano instruction. We loved how the group setting and parent participation were integral to the early curriculum. But what we found most compelling was the focus on process over product. When I was a child, I was taught "when you see this, you do that." But for young, preliterate children, the idea of "If you can sing it, you can play it" made a lot more sense to us.
In the last four years, we've had so many wonderful experiences at Yamaha. My husband and I valued sharing those first years at the keyboard with our kids. It was a great opportunity to spend time together, see the program working, and get to know the teachers. Between the two boys, we've had five Yamaha teachers, all of whom have been so great. The all-school concerts and private lesson recitals are special too; both experiences have taught the kids a lot about supporting one another as musicians. This year, both boys have enjoyed the ensemble playing in their classes, and are really engaged in writing their own music. It ties together what they have been learning through the curriculum with their individual creative interests, and cultivates a dynamic that makes them excited about what they're learning. To me, that's the best.
When we first started at Yamaha, we didn't have too much trouble with practicing and music homework. A regular practice at the same time every day worked well for us. But as the boys have advanced, we've had to adjust. Like most families juggling busy schedules, our biggest challenge now is finding time—duration and time of day—that allows both boys to get their practice in. What works better for us now is a flexible schedule, practicing some days in the morning before school, some days after school and sometimes a bit of both. Letting them be more responsible for running their own practice has helped too. My musical background is limited, so we sometimes rely on emailing with the teachers during the week with questions, which is yet another compliment to our Yamaha teachers who happily support the boys outside of class in any way they can.
One day, about a year after we had started at YMS, we were driving somewhere and it was raining. Ethan said to me, "Mommy, listen to the windshield wipers." I listened, and then replied, "What about the windshield wipers?" And he said, "They're singing 'do-so, do-so, do-so'... Can you hear it?" Sometime later, Elliot reported a big truck engine was humming "meeeeee..." That they were hearing music in the sounds of everyday things was a lovely surprise, and they continue to surprise me with what they are able to hear with their musical ears. They are so happy to share their music. Whether at family events, school, church or even scouts, they always love to play. I think the Yamaha program imparts a feeling of fun and delight into music education, and the children then pass that along when making music. That's really the core of it for us: the love of music, the skills to appreciate and make music, and the pleasure of sharing music throughout their lives.
Jeanne Hayes is the proud mother of Ethan and Elliot Hayes, who have been studying at YMS Boston since September 2007. Ethan, a recent Young Musicians Course (YMC) graduate, joined the first class of Junior Advanced Course students with Rebecca Helm this year. Elliot graduated from the Junior Musicians Course (JMC), and in 2009, became a member of the first Junior Special Advanced Course with Aaron Jackson, and this year with Ayako Hattori. Ayako also teaches private lessons to both boys.