I know I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I still am, so I thought I'd share this little gem in case there are others thinking of it...
DS is 6, very gifted and very visual-spatial. He LOVES math, thrives on complexity, etc. He's got the usual math lovers obsessions- space, rockets, puzzles, models, etc. We kind of got used to that!
He goes to a very small, one-room-schoolhouse Montessori elementary school where he is doing great and has been just chugging along at his powerhouse rate...
One of the teachers is a music teacher (and also teaches science). Her BS is in music education and part of the school program is once a week individual music lessons and music theory two times a week. We knew this, nodded with acceptance and thought this might be "nice" and kind of ho-hummed it. She told us she does not usually start 6 year olds on the piano, but we have a piano and I was casually thinking of lessons for him anyway, so I asked her if she could just try with him- no pressure, just give it a try. She said she would give it a go. We bought the lesson book for the piano and went on our merry way.
Well, as you can imagine (but I had not thought about) "mister visual-spacial mathematics and complexity kid" took this and clamped down on it with his iron-vice of a mind and the kid has just finished the first book in 3 months. According to his teacher, that is 3x faster than her average student a year or two older and she has never seen a 6 year old blast through it like this. At this pace he will complete her 3 year program of study in one year. The child seems glued to the piano at home (we have to "yell" at him to get OFF to get dressed, eat dinner, etc.) and he told me that he "LOVES the piano and music!". I catch him "playing" the dinner table, his thighs, etc.
I should have guessed. The complexity, the math and counting, the dramatic progress he can make because he can put the information together in a picture instead of a linear way when reading notes, the fact that his perfectionism is limited because a "wrong note" does not sit around to make you nuts (it dissapears and you just try again), the music theory in the combination of creative expression with the high level of order in music, the delightful challenge of two hands doing different things, reading different clefs at the same time... It's like brain candy. And he's addicted.
So, just as a thought or a suggestion to those looking for "more" for little visual-spacial mathematics types, try music! Gah! Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?
Can you share which piano books your school uses?
Our school has keyboards in every classroom, and some music instruction. We were hoping to get something for home to do with the kids, if they wanted to.
I've noticed that my perfectionist doesn't mind practicing music, either. I really like how you put it, because the music disappears and you can try again.
He's doing the Alfred's Basic Piano Library, the Beginner Alfred's Basic Series.
I have a bit of piano know-how and can support him at home (for now) but from the written messages his teacher makes for him, I know she is doing a lot more with it than just "getting the notes right" (which is about all I can do!). She writes about timing and harmonic intervals and all kinds of things, so the books are clearly the structure for the practice and learning, but not the whole thing. I don't know enough about music to know how much you could do with it without a teacher... But it seems like a nice series! She requests that the younger kids practice 5-10 minutes a day and she said her average rate of progression is one to two songs a week.
That is wonderful! My gifted DD seems to have little musical ability, unfortunately (but her skills are primarily verbal, not mathematical). Her gifted friend (the other kid in the gifted classes with her), though, is unbelievably talented at piano. At 9, he plays complicated concert pieces effortlessly. It is weird and truly awe-inspiring to watch someone so young play so beautifully.
I spent a year at science/math/engineering university. They didn't have much in the way of performing arts groups, except for their music groups, and they had a metric ton of performing music groups.
That is great! Our 7 year old gifted son started piano in October and it has given him a great outlet. It is the first thing that he really enjoys and has to try at. I have felt more at peace with myself since he started because I finally feel we have found something he enjoys and challenges him! He is in the middle of his second book but we are using david carr glover. Good Luck!!
Yeah, I kinda feel "DUH!" that I hadn't thought of it sooner or at least had it on my radar... And it's been a little while since the kid totally caught me blindsided. But looking at it, it really makes perfect sense.
My 11 DS is gifted both in math and music, but right now music is his first and foremost passion. It was totally by accident that we discovered his lightning fast ability to learn music, express music, perform music, compose music--live and breathe classical music. We were trying to expose him to music via the Suzuki method. He was done with it by the time he was 9 and is now attending a preparatory conservatory program.
I also have a DD who is even more gifted in math than DS and she does not enjoy music to the extent her brother does. I mean she plays the violin decently and she is OK with music lessons, but clearly does not possess the same aptitude nor passion for music like her older brother.
So what I am trying to say is that while sometimes kids excel in both math and music, these two do not always go together.
On the other hand, from my purely anecdotal observation of extremely advanced very young musicians (what one might call music prodigies and there are quite a few in our big metro area that move in the same circles as DS), all have been intellectually gifted. It makes sense when one thinks about the complexity of learning and performing classical music.
Yes, dessismam, I agree with you. I think that intellectual giftedness gives kids the analytical, problem-solving skills they need to excel at music.
I grew up with the Suzuki approach in an amazing new program in a small city where there was no pre-selection of students and I saw lots of kids excel. Of the crop of 14 or so who were my peer cohort, all but two or three could easily have made music a career, and 8 did end up in highly competitive music colleges with the 'most gifted' of young musicians. I don't think the program just lucked into enrolling every gifted young musician-to-be at age 4. These were just "musically ordinary" kids, mostly the children of university-professor families -- so on average very bright -- and they excelled musically because of an environment full of similar kids which inspired them, and because of their intellectual abilities.
I would not consider my own kids to be musically gifted -- though most people would think I am crazy to say so. I think their musical achievement is the result of their intellectual abilities, not of a musical gift per se. The possible exception is my ds, who though he isn't nearly as much of an achiever in either music or intellectual things, has an amazing ability to internalize things aurally, including very complex harmonies that I can barely make sense of. He's also the kid who gave the appearance of being able to sight-read music very well indeed by sight-playing challenging Mozart and Haydn quartets at a first pass -- but it turned out he was using the written music only as a sort of general hint and was improvising what he figured Mozart or Haydn would have written by listening to the other parts -- typically with deadly accuracy.
At any rate, this all fits with the OPs observation that music can be an excellent way for an intellectually gifted child to stretch his intellect, enjoy rewarding challenge and excel.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
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