pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano playing, piano teaching, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, you tube

Rina, 5, shows outstanding progress over 6 months of piano lessons! (Videos)

I’m overwhelmed with joy to nurse along this child’s musical growth. In truth, I’d never expected a 4-year old to be ready for private instruction. The undertaking was creative and experimental, falling into the iffy range of outcomes.

A fledgling who has ingested the physical connection between the singing tone and how to produce it, and grasps the cognitive side of music learning, is nothing short of dazzling!

Tales of a Musical Journey, Rina’s primer through her early months of study, had been a model for my tailor-made variation that suits this child’s individual needs. What remains at the core of the instruction, however, is Irina Gorin’s vision.

Rina has absorbed supple wrist motions; has a cohesive sense of regularly recurring beats; and can make create dynamic contrasts in her playing. (she knows “F” for Forte and “p” for piano) She has had considerable exposure to “echoes” and musically realizing them.

She can identify “short sounds” (the equivalent of quarters–black cardboard circles) and “long sounds” (half notes–white cardboard circles), as well as “very long sounds” –Whole Notes: “whole note hold down,” (cardboard ovals with thick black borders) and coordinates two hands together playing “Frere Jacques” (Happy and Sad versions, the latter enlisting “Eb” for the “minor”) and “Twinkle Twinkle.” (separate hands, and hands together) She has also ingested “running notes,” (or 8th notes) notated in “Frere Jacques.”

Rina knows her seven-letter music alphabet forward and in reverse, and understands step- and skip-wise motion up and down. (Derived from stair-case climbing in my home studio)

And she now “reads” floating notes, grouped with bar lines, with attached fingerings and letter names.

Here’s a sample of what we’ve devised in cooperation with Rina’s mom who receives a set of lesson plans each week and follows through with daily, supervised practice. We also schedule a telephone conference on the evening of Rina’s weekly lesson.

Rina’s dad brings her to my home weekly for a 30-minute lesson, and stays to observe.

I’ve also added some Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals listening assignments, followed up by having Rina play “The Lion” in my own contrived duet form. We just added “The Elephant.” I play a reduced version of these miniatures and teach Rina to add harmonic 5ths or single notes as accompaniment. I annotate these in the score, and say “long sounds” or ” short sounds” depending on the particular arrangement. My You Tube uploads of these pieces assist mom during the week.

Right now Rina is working on slurring two-note legato pairs to grow her technique.

Her learning is dynamic and growing in leaps and bounds!

Without further ado, here are today’s recorded videos of Rina playing a solo and duet.

Last week, Rina recorded “Frere Jacques” in the “sad” minor using Eb:

Rina is pictured with her French tutor, Denise, following today’s piano lesson:

8 thoughts on “Rina, 5, shows outstanding progress over 6 months of piano lessons! (Videos)”

  1. I have been playing the piano, performing, and teaching for over 30 years and all I have to say is BRAVO!! It is such a gift to pass on music knowledge. I find many avenues for this and that people fro children to adults need creative instruction as we all learn differently!


  2. I hope this comment finds a listening ear… My little girl just turned 3 years old and was able to pick out Twinkle Twinkle by ear at 2 y 2mo. Her repertoire now is quite expanded, she tries to pick out whatever comes to mind, started using individual fingers and attempts using both hands. I had experience with the Russian musical instruction, which is rigid and will not consider taking a child this young. Of course, I considered Suzuki instruction due to her age until she can read the music, but would love a recommendation from someone. We live in an area with a limited choice of talented instructors, much less the ones that would attempt to do anything so young. Then, I saw there was a whole world of internet/Skype lessons and I am considering it! I would love to hear from someone on what to do with her – start with Suzuki/Irina Gorin – not sure what else…

    Please help. I really would love to continue nourishing her desire to play and help her propel without pushing.

    Grateful in advance.


    1. Thanks for your note. I don’t know what area you area of the country you reside in re: pursuing further instruction for your daughter. The Suzuki approach has its pros and cons, so you should weigh and measure that avenue (and do the research). Skyping lessons for a child so young may be quite a challenge. From my perspective, it’s not a good idea as the physical aspects of playing (re: a child) warrant a LIVE instructor. If there’s a university with a music department in your area, it might be a start as to assessing or learning about programs for toddlers, etc.


      1. Thank you very much. We live near Savannah GA. There is a local symphony, but not a university with a strong music program. I came across a Suzuki vs traditional review online, which led me to your site. I think O am proficient enough to provide instruction from 3-4 yo. Would you recommend Irina Gorkin’s program?


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