I am so happy with the progress of class! One thing I would love them to focus on this week is doing the Alphabet Pieces Game consistently. I know it doesn’t seem like a very important activity BUT, the 3rd year students who do not do it consistently, struggle to know their keys. We will be doing races in class to help them get faster at naming the notes and I want everyone to feel successful.
Watch out for the winter blues! Here is a blog post with motivation and a focus on your child's learning style to make practice time more cooperative and enjoyable.
A few ideas to make the alphabet pieces game more playful!
Have your child take one alphabet piece from the box and quickly set it on the correct white key. Continue until the box is empty! Time yourself and see if you can beat yesterday's time. For students who struggle, have the student look at the picture (key-group diagram) in the back of the Yellow Songbook and form his own visual conclusion.
Take a Second:
Have your child choose two alphabet pieces and place them on the keyboard. Identify what interval they make, and play the interval. If it's anything other than a 2nd, play again! The game ends when you take a second to make a 2nd.
Each player starts with 3 alphabet tiles hidden in his hand. Try to make matches by asking the other player: "Do you have a.." then PLAY the note on the piano to make your request. If you end up with an empty hand, draw 3 more tiles. Keep playing until the tiles are all gone, and see who got more matches.
Homework: pp. 16–17 in the Homework Booklet AND coloring p. 21 in the Songbook (broken chords for Lullaby and Goodnight).
When learning to play melodic patterns:
1. Play all 5 in Middle C Position.
2. Play at separate times. The clef tells which hand will play. Treble Clef is RH and these patterns go DOWN. Bass Clef is LH and these patterns go UP.
3. What are the notes telling you to play? Steps, skips, or leaps? They ALL end on Middle C.
I am Robin Hood
This theme song is significant because it is the first song we play hands together with each hand playing independently. In class we learned to play the melody with the right hand. Place your RH thumb (1) on Middle C, 2nd finger on Middle D, and the 3rd finger on the black note above Middle D. And then play in the rhythm of BUG-BUG-BEETLE-BUG, BEETLE-BEETLE-SLUG. Practice hands separately this week. We will put it all together soon!
Lullaby and Goodnight
Did you know that we can make a song sound different by changing a block chord to a broken chord? It’s time to break all of the chords in Lullaby and Goodnight. Stylizing the block chords to broken will change the mood of this song into a calm, peaceful lullaby. Played piano (find the p under the music) with broken chords this lullaby will be sure to put you to sleep!
Are you ready for spring to come? Let It (Winter) Go is a cool piece to play now that our students are warmed up with all of the chords in right and left hand.
How is your child’s mastery of Melodic Patterns and Chord Fingerings? Plan to spend at least 5 minutes with your child this week before Lesson 7 checking to make sure they can confidently play p. 16 Melodic Patterns and p. 14 Primary Cadence with correct notes and fingerings in both hands!
A few ideas to bring playfulness to practice time!
Homework: pp. 14–15 Students identify all the Middle Cs with a red x, then identify the various melodic patterns by circling them with a specified color. These melodic patterns are used in SO many songs and students will benefit greatly in their future music making endeavors by being able to quickly identify and play them! Also, be sure to listen to the specified CD songs and practice each piece. Sitting with your child at the beginning of the practice week will instill good habits and allow you to correct any fingering or note mistakes. Then they can successfully practice on their own the rest of the week!
We get to PLAY all of the melodic patterns this week! The goal of this daily practice technique is to SEE, SING, and PLAY each pattern all at once. Though their well-trained ears might tempt them to play each pattern by ear, insist they look at the book with their goggles, binoculars, laser beam eyes, telescopic vision, x-ray vision, heat vision, freeze vision, or night vision eyes while they play and sing!
Here are the verbal cues we sing in class with our hand signs. Invite them to sing these cues, finger numbers, or be creative and make up different words on the pitches of each melodic pattern.
MRD-Baby Steps Down
SFMRD-Baby Steps Go-Ing Down
SSD- Same Same Leap-up
SLTD-Baby Steps Going Up
Can’t Bug Me
Drumroll please…..Introducing BEAT BUG! “The BEAT is the BUG and the others play a long!” The Beat Bug sets the tempo on the metronome! He might go fast or slow but the beat is a ‘bug’ (quarter note) and the other rhythms (beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, butterflies, slugs) follow and fit within that given tempo.
Lullaby and Goodnight & Go to Sleep
After we solidify the chord transitions in our lullabies, we will make them sound more serene and calm by stylizing them with broken chords. Feel free to invite your child to color the chords in their piano book to make this an easier transition.
Primary Chord Song/Primary Cadence
Time to put on a show for the family! Your child can play ALL chords with BOTH HANDS! Invite them to perform the chords Ray Charles style while singing the chords out loud! Play them hands separate, then try hands together with the correct fingerings!
Why the importance of chords in piano playing? Kristi Ison, a Let’s Play Music teacher in Mesa, Arizona, shares the Top 10 Reasons for Learning Primary Chords!
Thank you for coming to class this week! Be sure to practice keyboard letter names with the Alphabet Pieces Game. Remember that students should be using the visual cue card in the back of their songbook, rather than counting up to find their notes.
A few ideas to bring playfulness to practice time!
Homework: pp. 12–13 Students fill in keyboard letter names and identify notes.
Bass C and Treble C
The 3 C’s are in a family; they have different first names and the same last name! We’ve known Middle C since last semester. This week we introduced Bass C: 2nd Space in Bass Clef is Bass C! AND Treble C: 3rd Space in Treble Clef is Treble C or 1-2-3 treble C! These anchor notes on the staff will help orient us as we expand our keyboard skills.
C Major Scale
Now that we know where Treble C is on the keyboard we can play the C Major Scale going DOWN. The technique is exactly like the Left Hand, but instead playing it with the Right Hand! Practice this SLOWLY to ensure correct fingerings and bubble hand position. 1) Begin with RH finger number 5 on Treble C. (This is the C right above middle C.) 2) Play Do, Ti, La, Sol, Fa using fingers 5-4-3-2-1 with a rounded bubble hand. 3) To play Mi, POP finger number 3 over thumb. 4) Reset the BUBBLE and proceed to play Mi-Re-Do with finger numbers 3-2-1.
I am Robin Hood
Shoo-oot the Ar-row, Waa-atch it fly---, teaches us how to feel and play the dotted quarter eighth note pattern right on target. To feel this rhythm more accurately dance with the music, stomp out the rhythm with hands and feet, or even sit them on your lap and bounce your knees up and down to the rhythm while chanting the song together. Mix up practice with this song by playing the bass clef 5th an octave lower to really sound like a deep drum!
Hickory Dickory Dock
This song introduces parallel motion by following a steady beat through a metronome (a tick-tock is what we call it in class).
Could you believe all the musical symbols Old MacDonald had on his musical farm? A rest, though played with silence, is a very important aspect of music. Mozart said, “The music is not in the notes but in the silence between.” Rests are powerful!
Playing the Alphabet Pieces game every day will help us solidify keyboard geography by learning the names of ALL of the white keys. Enjoy playing this game with its theme and variations!