"Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, Irina Gorin, piano instruction, piano lesson, piano lessons, piano playing and relaxation, piano teaching, Piano World, pianoaddict.com, playing piano, Prokofief "March", Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Kirsten blog, Tchaikovsky, teaching piano to children, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video

Highlights of Rina’s fourth piano lesson, 8/25/11: Learning about Rhythm and tapping C’s and Ds to Marches (Videos in three parts)

Rina reached a learning landmark last week when she located “little houses” with two black key roofs across the keyboard. Irina Gorin, in her book, “Tales of a Musical Journey” cleverly marks out seven “neighborhoods” (aka “octaves”) that encompass small, and big houses (three-black key roofs) Students explore the geography of the piano with the assistance of colorful keyboard pictures before they specifically name notes.

Last week Rina drew individual lines from a row of illustrated animals into the little note house, and placed C for CAT, D for DEER, and E for EAGLE into their respective white note dwellings. The black keys, or the raised notes, formed the roof. Rina practiced finding these notes with my prompts using finger numbers 2, 3, and 4, and then we shuffled them around. (both hands were enlisted separately)

At a preceding lesson, Rina had played “swinging monkey C’s” that explored a rotational movement involving swinging, supple elbows as she traveled from one “C” destination to another. For this activity, I had attached a fuzzy, purple monkey to her wrist that came along with Irina Gorin’s teaching materials. In addition to the toy monkey, two soft, colorful balls and an assortment of cardboard notes had been included in the instruction package. A CD with chapter assigned selections was also attached. (Rina had learned the middle C location from having had exposure from her mother prior to formal lesson instruction.)

The day before Rina’s lesson, I had sent the following preliminary plan to Rina’s parents.

Opening Relaxation exercises–weeping willow tree pretend, and eagle with flowing, graceful flight and wing motions.

I will accompany at piano (Burgmuller,” Harmony of the Angels.”) I should record this for Rina so she can use at home.

Reminder to sit in middle of bench–front edge position–arms’ length from fall board

Finger number review: Hold up both hands with a round position. Reminder to place ball in palms, relax hand, and then remove ball.

Hands from lap to keyboard–supple wrists practice

High and low note locations–rainbow movements–keyboard divided in half.
Pretend round ball in hands for round, relaxed hand position

Rocking motion Cs’ or monkey swings C’s Divide piano in half.

Little and Big House locations by placing fingers 2,3 on double black groups to 2, 3, 4 Triple black key groups–rainbow motions between..

Review of Little Note house and placing animals on white note spaces.
C Cat D for Deer E for Eagle

Start at Middle C

Locate these C, D. E notes using fingers 2, 3, 4 in each hand, one note after another. Divide the piano in half (Practice RH and LH)

Finally, mix up the white notes (from the little note house) and designate finger numbers for each note identity. Shuffle fingers so Rina doesn’t associate any one finger with a specific note.

For further exposure with C, we will introduce the Metronome unit to obtain an awareness of rhythm and ticking beats.


Rhythm is introduced in Gorin’s Chapter titled “Wizard Metronome.” In keeping with the flow of the book, I will show Rina how the ticking “beats” travel through notes in various durations. She can listen attentively for how long a C, or D, or E lasts when she holds each down with the metronome ticking away. Ultimately, I would like her to viscerally “feel” beats through her clapping and marching movements beside singing activities.

Irina Gorin provides some pre-recorded selections on her CD that are included with her materials. The metronome ticks away with introductory beats and then permeates all the individual selections. We will be using many of these pieces as we move along, so follow-up practicing during the week is recommended.

Today all lesson goals were met, but I’ve only highlighted portions of Rina’s Lesson on videotape.

Part 1: Introductory warm-up movements: Rina pretended to be an eagle as I played Burgmuller’s “Harmony of the Angels.”

Part 2: Introduction to Rhythm and Wizard Metronome: Rina held middle C as the metronome ticked through it and then she listened to a Prokofief March and another, “Flute and Orchestra” to which she marched and clapped.

Part 3: Rina sat at the piano tapping C’s to “Flute and Orchestra,” and then she tapped D’s in rhythm to Tchaikovsky’s “March of the Wooden Soldiers” which I played beside her.





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