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Piano Lesson: Rina, 4, learns “Frere Jacques” in steps (using my staircase) Video

To spice up and vary today’s lesson, I had Rina transfer her stair climbing to hands-on piano exploration. She already knew her 7-letter music alphabet and had followed flashcards with note names placed consecutively on each step in three previous stair-related activities, so it was time to put “Frere Jacques” into motion, with a few small leaps here and there. We had tried a snippet before the holiday break and Rina enjoyed the romp.

The presence of Rina’s French tutor, Denise, added to the atmosphere.

Here’s how it played out:

After a stair climb review of the music alphabet, Rina continued her movement activity with the French folk song, “Frere Jacques,” noting a special leap from E to C– And in the second line, from G back down to E. She managed the jump very well, and it was fun!

From the piano nearby, I sang the song, named the musical letters, and urged Rina to do the same.

Transferring kinesthetic and cognitive activity to the piano:

1) Rina took her black cardboard circles (short sounds) and arranged them on the piano rack as we sang the opening two measures of “Frere Jacques” together.

We clapped the rhythm
Sang the words
Sang and clapped

We used hand signals for up and down movement

2) I played “Frere Jacques” slowly with finger number 3, focusing on the repetition, while I demonstrated supple wrist playing.
C-D-E-C, C-D-E-C, (I started at middle C)

Rina played it back with her Right Hand, using finger, 3. (Left hand was enlisted separately an octave lower, but not captured on video)

3) We continued to E-F-G, E-F-G

We arranged the circles for short and long sounds.

We tapped the rhythm again, sang letter names, and then used hand signals to reflect melodic motion.

I played this line of “Frere Jacques” using finger number 3 of my right hand.

Rina practiced E-F-G, E-F-G, doing the same.

She next played the line with finger number 2 of her Left Hand. (Not seen in video, as it was edited for length)

We sang the letter names.
We sang the words.
Used hand signals to reflect melodic motion in space.

4) We played the first half of “Frere Jacques,” combining the C-D-E section with E-F-G.

Finally, I devised a simple accompaniment so Rina and I finished the lesson in duet.

As the icing on the cake, Rina indulged Aiden cat with a few affectionate strokes before her official French farewell: “Au Revoir.”

We’ll work on the last part of “Frere Jacques” next week.

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