I hope everyone has been having a great break so far! I’m just posting a few reminders for each of you to practice at home – remember that a little bit of practice every day is better than a big practice session every few days with no practice in between! (Of course, if you are away on vacation without a piano, then I hope you are enjoying every minute of it.)
Keep working on “This is Not Jingle Bells” and “Runaway Rabbit”. A few things to keep in mind – always think about the rhythm, which notes get one beat (quarter notes) and which get two beats (half notes). Clapping the rhythm is a good way to practice. The second thing to do is to use your magical sheet with all of the notes to find the correct notes in “Runaway Rabbit” if you are not sure. It is much better to read the note on the page and figure out which note it is (using your sheet, or without using it if you already know) than to guess with your fingers and your ears. This will require a little bit of patience!
For next time, we’ll keep working on “French Lullaby” and “Sonatina”. Both pieces will need hands separate practicing. In “French Lullaby”, the trickiest part is switching between the G position and the C position in the left hand – you can practice by actually moving your left hand between the two positions, back and forth until it is very easy. For “Sonatina”, remember in the left hand, even though it looks like there are many notes, there are only three different notes that make up one chord. You can practice by playing the three notes together as one chord, before practicing it as it’s written on the page. When you put the hands together, keep the left hand softer than the right hand.
We recently started learning how to read notes and you’ve been doing really well with this! Remember to look at the page and ask yourself if the notes are going up or down – all the answers are in your music, and it’s better to check on the page than to guess. It’s also a good idea to say the note names out loud – you can do this both while you’re playing, and also away from the piano. Your new songs were “Rain Rain”, and “A Happy Song” for both the right hand and the left hand. Getting comfortable with reading notes takes time and patience, but if we can learn it really well from the beginning, this will make it much easier for you to learn pieces later!
For next time, you have three pieces to prepare – “The Clown”, “Waltz Time”, an “Good King Wenceslas”. It’s a good idea to keep practicing each piece hands separately (one hand at a time) to make sure each hand is very comfortable, before you put the hands together. In “The Clown”, there are many dynamic markings (piano, forte, accents, crescendo, decrescendo) that make the piece very interesting – try to exaggerate it when you practice and if it’s too much, I will let you know! In “Waltz Time”, the melody is in the left hand, so make sure to play the right hand softer than the left hand.
You also have three piece to prepare – “The Rainbow”, “Yankee Doodle”, “and “The Windmill”. For “The Rainbow”, the time signature is 3/4, which means that there are only three beats in one measure. When you practice by counting, remember to count only to 3 instead of 4. Also, remember that Adagio means very slow, so the part at the end marked Adagio is much slower than the rest of the piece. For “The Windmill”, you will need some hands separate practicing and also counting while practicing. You learned two new words – “ritartando” which means to gradually get slower, and “A Tempo” which means to return to the original tempo.