Monday, October 13, 2008

Music: Piano Lesson

I know all of you have been waiting on pins and needles to find out who will win the two awesome cds! I am happy to announce that

Shannon of teaching tiny tots wins her first choice of either Baby Einstein Playdate Fun cd or Disney's Greatest cd
Brooke wins the other cd (which hopefully is your first choice)!

Congratulations to both of you! Please e-mail me at laughlearnloveblog [at] gmail [dot] com with your address so I can mail it to you.

Now, onto today's post. I told you last week that I would be saving you money today, and here's why: I'm giving you a piano lesson. Like I have said before, I have been teaching piano for 10 years, and I love teaching. So I am going to explain to you what I do for a first lesson.

Finger numbers: each finger has a number: thumb = 1, index finger = 2 and so on until pinkie = 5. The reason this is important is because when you look at music, particularly more difficult music, the composer or editor will suggest finger numbers to make the music a little easier to play. Knowing and remembering the finger numbers is important. So I ask the student to hold his/her hands out and I randomly call out numbers for them to wiggle the corresponding finger.

How to sit at a piano:
  • back straight
  • shoulders relaxed
  • bellybutton lined up with middle C (for the first week I just show them where middle C is on the piano. The following week I explain why it is called that.)
  • feet flat on the floor if they will reach. If not, either get a stool so their feet can be flat, or let them dangle.
  • hands in the shape of a bubble, or bear claw, on the keyboard
  • elbows relaxed (not squished into their sides, and not sticking out far away from their bodies)
  • rear end should be halfway on the bench - not all of the way back because you have less control of your body that way
Soft & Loud, High & Low: We talk about how on a piano you can play a note softly, which gives you a soft sound (like a mouse), or you can play that same note harder, which gives you a louder sound (like an elephant). Also, when you play the notes to your right or "up high," the sounds are really, really high (like a mouse or whatever animal they want to liken it to), and when you play the notes to your left, or "down low," the notes are really low.

The keyboard: I point out that there are patterns on the keyboard. The black notes are grouped in sets of either two or three. I ask them to play all of the groups of two black notes, using their right hand finger numbers 2 and 3 starting from the bottom of the keyboard and working their way up. Next, I ask them to start at the top and play all of the groups of three black notes, using their left hand finger numbers 2, 3 and 4.

Sometimes, this is where I stop. If the child (or adult, I'm not picky) seems to understand everything quickly, I will also explain these things:
  • The musical alphabet is ABCDEFG. No H, no I, no J. It just repeats itself over and over all the way up the keyboard.
  • The definitions of quarter note, measure, bar line and double bar line.
  • When playing music, when the stems point up that means the right hand plays those notes. When the stems point down, the left hand plays those notes.
  • I will show them where C is on the keyboard (immediately to the left of the set of two black keys). Then I have them point out all of the Cs on the keyboard. Then I explain that the rest of the notes are in alphabetical order going up the keyboard: CDEFGABC.
And now the student is ready to play music!


teachingtinytots said...

yipeee i'm so excited i never win anything!!!

i love the piano, cello, harp, flute and don't love i love bagpipes!

Isabel's Mommy said...

DD is a little young for piano, plus we don't have one. So, this week we are going to make some instruments. Today we are going to make homemade maracas with her playgroup that is coming over today.

Rebecca said...

Hi Erin and Deneal! Deneal complained that no one gave feedback so since I can relate to the piano lessons part, I'd like to share a new way I learned about notes and their location on the piano. We start with "D" and call this the "doghouse" and then dog's friend "cat" lives next door as well as "elephant" Then we introduce "Grandma's house" and she has "Auntie" who lives with her and they have a "Front door" and a "Back door" Anyway, I'll let you figure it out. Basically the notes on the piano have a story, if you will. Okay, that's my little bit! I miss you guys!

teachingtinytots said...

cute idea i bet that really helps kids!