This class took place at the end of October. Performance Classes were held again this week. Details to follow.
Students: 3 girls, all with only 2 months of lessons, all age 7. Three different method books were represented, and all 3 are starting to read on-staff notation. Class length: one hour.
First, rhythm. I told them to stand in a circle. No, they said, 3 people can only make a triangle. Some debate about how many it would take to make a circle of people. 76? 900? A billion?
We clapped in quadruple time. They each drew one note – a quarter, a half, and a whole – on my small white board. One clapped in quarters, one in half-notes, and one in whole notes while we all counted to 4. The purpose: to keep a steady beat and to listen to each other. A couple of switches and they had all clapped all the time values. A simple but effective exercise.
Performances – round one. We had prepared pieces to play for the class. One nice thing about this age is that they are not yet self-conscious.
Next, a big push on my part to solidify the note-reading concepts of up and down, and lines and spaces. I gave them some “jewels” (bought at Michael’s) and extra-large staff paper. The jewels are clear enough that a line is visible underneath, and the staff paper is large enough that the jewel can fit in the space. We went up and down lines and spaces in steps and skips – grounding in the understanding that notes exist on every line and in every space. We put more jewels on the corresponding notes on a colourful paper keyboard.
This led nicely into a chat about Gina and Farmer Fred. They had all seen the videos in lessons already, but we enforced those landmark notes by drawing them on staff paper.
After a second round of solos, it was time for some Ensemble playing. An Ensemble recital is scheduled for for April, and all the group classes until then will include preparation for that.
All 3 girls sat at the piano, and all played unison octaves: C at the bottom, E in the middle, and G at the top. They (tried to) keep a steady beat all playing in quarters, then ventured into the same rhythm combinations we had clapped earlier.
Then – in one of those spontaneous moments when something unplanned trumps what was planned – I taught them major and minor sounds and labels by having the student playing E switch to E Flat. I made up a goofy song (about a lost, then found cat) to reflect the sad/happy nature of the two modes. Simplistic, yes, but it’s the first step.
They left the studio 10 minutes later, still giggling. And I went upstairs for my dinner break, still smiling.
*Most ideas and printables are those of Susan Paradis; video by Anne Crosby.