My name is Curtis Hollembeak. I love to sing. I love good music!
I have loved music for as long as I can remember. I grew up listening to wonderful music being played in my home over speakers that Dad had installed in the different rooms of our house.
Learning to be a good musician, however, has been a struggle for me. I can clearly remember sitting in a 3rd grade music class, Flutophone in hand, not having a clue what I was supposed to be doing. Others were merrily playing fun melodies while I sat there, bewildered, either acting like I knew what I was doing, or else producing irritating sounds, much to the chagrin of the teacher! This didn’t change my love for music, it just made me think that learning to understand music must be one of the most difficult things in the world.
Listen to my story
As I child, I sat through church choir practice with my Mom and longed for the day when I could actually join the choir and be a part of making such incredible music. Occasionally, my brother and I had the opportunity to sing in church as very small children.
I joined the church choir when I was Jr. High age, and really loved singing such beautiful harmony! One of the men next to me told me to watch the notes as they jump up and down on the page, and make my voice go up and down with them. That was about the extent of my musical training.
Around 1971, a man in concert at our church sang the song “Finally Home.” As he sang, my heart was deeply moved. I was there, in heaven, breathing the celestial air and touching the hand of God. At that service I told the Lord that I would volunteer to use music to touch the lives of others, as I had been touched.
As a music teacher now, since 1988, I love to find new ways to connect kids with music. Because of my personal struggles, I understand what small children go through when wrestling with our classic ideas of music theory. I have learned much in my career.
Around 2005, I came across some incredible information about a music teacher from the early 1900’s who was able to teach perfect pitch to small children. Her methods included a variety of hands-on activities, such as wooden notes and removable piano keys. Her teaching inspired me to create music manipulatives for children to handle, large wooden notes I hang on the wall, a large walk-on staff, actual piano keys from a piano which we use to learn the notes on the piano, and plenty of fun music games to teach musical concepts.
Having incorporated so many concrete teaching tools into the learning process for small children, I understand their incredible usefulness. Be sure to read the manifesto for a glimpse into my music teaching philosophies.
Mr. Noteman is a puppet I created in 2006 to help teach about the parts of a note: the head, stem and flag. Children love Mr. Noteman, especially when we talk about his flag — it makes him go FAST!
Watch Mr. Noteman go fast here:
If you are a fan of fun and effective music education, be sure to check out the t-shirt!
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