DAVIDSONS MUSIC – Music Instruction for Adults and Children
6727 Metcalf, Overland Park, KS 66204 • www.davidsonsmusic.com______________________________________
Review by Linda Foster
If you have wanted to give your children a good musical education that is based entirely on Christian music and concepts, you may wish to look over the music instructions books and CDs offered by Davidsons Music.
The primary offering from Davidsons Music is the Madonna Woods Piano Course for Christians, a Christian-based course, teaching students how to read and play music on the piano. It is designed with the homeschooler in mind by Madonna Woods, a fully accredited teacher with a Master’s degree in music and 30 years of teaching experience. There are detailed explanations of the music fundamentals in each course book. Even parents with no musical background can tutor their children if they will study the Piano Course themselves staying one step ahead in the process.
The course materials are well written and provide a complete explanation of the basics of music and finger technique. Additionally, the CDs and cassettes offer parents and students alike, the opportunity to hear exactly how everything should be played and how the rhythm is counted. User-friendly lesson guides are included for each level of the course to help parents tutor and lead their children through the course.
This method is especially useful in the homeschool environment, where music teachers are not always readily available, and parents may or may not have a musical background. Even parents without prior musical experience can teach their children to play the piano, and older beginning students can teach themselves.
The Piano Course is very cost effective because it can be used over and over by all members of the family. It has been in use by homeschoolers for several years. It has proved very popular with students because of the use of familiar songs and enjoyable format. Parents are grateful to it for the excellent step by step music instructions and by the use of Christian music and concepts.
The Madonna Woods Piano Course for Christians is a complete course offered in six well-designed, comprehensive and easy-to-follow levels. All of the music in the Piano Course for Christians has a Christian nature. Most of the songs and music pieces are well-known hymns, gospel songs or other religious works. Other pieces, while not actual hymns, are still of a nature that will enhance Christian values. Each level of the Course consists of an instruction book and CD or cassette that is designed for several months of piano instruction.
In addition to the six levels of the Piano Course itself, there are 38 additional supplementary books and cassettes that provide the student with songbooks of familiar Sunday school and gospel songs, patriotic songs, familiar classics, Christmas songs, finger exercise books, and theory work books. All these supplementary books are coordinated precisely to go with each level from earliest beginner to advanced in the Course.
The Preparatory Level starts by explaining the keyboard and how notes are named. It also explains the musical staff and then teaches counting and rhythm in simple time signatures. A clearly-written Lesson Plan is included providing suggestions on how parents can monitor lessons, present music fundamentals, encourage practice, and assess progress.
Level 1 continues the full explanations of the music fundamentals necessary for mastery of the piano, and builds on the lessons from the prior level. More notes and rests are taught along with instructions on counting notes and note reading over more of the staff. Sharps and flats, half, whole and 8th notes, and basic chords of primary key signatures are included along with finger techniques and beginning hand movements over the keyboard.
Each subsequent level builds upon the prior level and includes written lesson plans and CDs and cassettes recorded by Madonna Woods to explain music fundamentals in greater depth and demonstrate how the music should sound and be practiced, give advice and encouragement.
For those students with some prior piano study who may wish to continue with their study, purchasing individual levels equivalent to their needs is a cost-effective approach. Students can assess their own level of expertise and work from that point forward to further develop their skills.
In addition to the excellent Madonna Woods Piano Course for Christians, Davidsons Music also offers an exciting array of many piano courses for adults, both beginners and the more advanced, who may wish to improve their skills.
There are courses for people who wish to learn to play piano or keyboard entirely by ear. There are beginning courses that can start the beginner learning to play “by ear” either on gospel songs or regular music. There is an excellent DVD on “playing by ear” that shows exactly how to place the hands, play the chords, and put it all together.
The “by ear” courses move on through intermediate levels into advanced playing runs and fills “by ear”. All are clearly explained and demonstrated through the course books and cassettes.
There is a series of four courses taking the aspiring gospel style pianist from beginner through full evangelical style playing. It starts with the beginning level called Learn Gospel Music which explains in clear easy to understand language how to begin adding evangelistic embellishments to one’s playing. It goes into beginning chording, how to add a left hand accompaniment, fill out the right hand, and shows when and how to add effective runs.
As students progress through the remaining three courses of the series (Gospel Style Techniques Books 1, 2, and 3), they learn many evangelistic techniques such as playing cross hands style, walking basses, adding intros and endings, full octave chording, running bass octaves, playing counter melodies, the tremolo, adding 3rds and 6ths to the melody and more. They are learning these principles while learning to play fine arrangements of familiar gospel songs in each course. It really shows them how to develop their own creative style.
For the advancing musician, especially the church musician, there are courses that help them improve their music skills. There are courses on learning to speed read music, improvise, master chords, learn to identify chords in hymns, how to accompany, transpose, change keys (modulate), even how to play country gospel style.
There are even books on other aspects of learning music, such as how to play guitar and how to sing. Again, as with the other excellent programs offered by Davidsons Music, these programs are all written in clear, easy-to-understand language that make self-instruction possible, and very enjoyable and rewarding.
Davidsons Music is dedicated to teaching God’s love through music and the products offered seek to reinforce Christian values while offering a cost-effective method of music education. For additional information regarding Davidsons Music, please visit their website at www.davidsonsmusic.com. L.F.■