Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Week of Group Piano Lessons

A couple of times a year I meet with my older piano students in small groups. I try to maximize the positive aspects of peer involvement (feelings of inclusiveness in the quest to make music) and minimize the negative (the fits of silliness peer groups exhibit).
I found a three part arrangement of Yankee Doodle for my boy group.
We did practice individually the week before. I found the music at They write nice pieces on many levels. The lesson was a great success. All three parts held together and all the benefits of ensemble playing were realized.
I did some drumming in all the groups. I had a chart with lines of different rhythms. We did them together and then each person was assigned their own line. As you can see in the video, my Four Queens, girls in PA3A and PA3B, were successful.

Another fun activity was Play a Story. I used the Spanish story of Don Gato the cat. As I told the story I stopped to ask for piano sounds to complement the story. Don Gato's sound was a minor broken chord followed by a block chord. The Lady Cat had fifiths in the treble clef. The joyful sounds were major arpeggios, the sounds of the sadness over his death, or supposed death were a minor arpeggio.
His broken body parts were half steps in different octaves. I enjoyed their scramble to get to the piano to play their sound trying to remember what the musical term meant.
We ended the lesson with some notation dictation. I asked them to notate 4 measures of Yankee Doodle. This was very instructive to me to see how observant they are about the components of written music. We did not get all 4 measures written before it was time to perform for each other. This always ends my groups lessons. They like showing what they are learning.
Music was enjoyed by all!!

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