Teacher taps into intelligence early
Doors To Music program teaches skills during formative years
By Willie Kiernan
Doors To Music is a program of music classes designed by Richard Holmquist for young children, beginning at ages 4 to 6, that combines keyboard instruction with singing, percussion, music reading and music listening skills. The group classes, along with parents present, are designed to get very young children involved in music in a comfortable and encouraging manner.
"I believe that all children can develop a musical ear; they aren't born with it," Holmquist said. "I believe that they are born with the ability to learn and there's a lot of research behind this. It's much like learning your own native language, which needs to be started during the formative years."
Holmquist grew up in New Jersey and began piano at the age of 6, the youngest student his teacher had ever taught. He continued playing through college and has three degrees in music. After his studies, he took a day job teaching a special class of 4-year olds for a commercial keyboard company, and decided he liked it. After 14 years of teaching, he and his wife Mary moved to Cazenovia. She taught school at ESM while he developed his Doors To Music program from scratch.
"I started with five students, now there's about 90," Holmquist said. "I wrote this program, which is a completely written out curriculum in nine books. Each level takes about a semester."
Holmquist is passionate about teaching and learning music at a young age. He invoked Howard Gardner and his theories on multiple intelligences. Gardner, a professor of neurology at Boston University, is famous for his 1983 book "Frames of Mind. The theory of multiple intelligences."
"In the heyday of the psychometric and behaviorist eras, it was generally believed that intelligence was a single entity that was inherited; and that human beings, initially a blank slate, could be trained to learn anything, provided that it was presented in an appropriate way. Nowadays an increasing number of researchers believe precisely the opposite; that there exists a multitude of intelligences, quite independent of each other; that each intelligence has its own strengths and constraints; that the mind is far from unencumbered at birth; and that it is unexpectedly difficult to teach things that go against early 'naive' theories that challenge the natural lines of force within an intelligence and its matching domains, " wrote Gardner in an introduction in 1993 to his tenth anniversary edition of "Frames of Mind."