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Rina, 4, played a duet with me and practiced her SPONGY wrist motion (VIDEO)

The natural follow-up to Rina’s listening assignment this week, was having her play an ostinato portion of Camille Saint-Saens’s THE LION as I played the melody. (from Carnival of the Animals)

An Ostinato is a repeated bass pattern.

I had intentionally selected this composition arranged simply for piano, because of its interval of redundant bass notes, A and E. These can be played in any range as a teacher intones the theme.

First Rina had identified these separate notes in all ranges of the piano before she played them as a block chord using fingers 1 and 5, RH then LH, 5 and 1. Bundled into this activity was reinforcement of the “spongy” or supple wrist motion.

We imbued these chords with LONG SOUNDS, or half notes. Rina knows them by the former name, and she realizes that they are held for TWO COUNTS. Over many weeks she’s had a wealth of experience clapping them. (So far she knows “short sounds” which are quarters, and “long sounds” or half notes.) She has shuffled cardboard white and black circles along the way, even composing her own rhythms and then translating them into melody.

Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey provides a nice underpinning.

Here’s how our little LION duet played out. I recorded the Ostinato A, E section:

Rina will practice blocking A and E during the week, dividing the keyboard in half as comfortably fits the right and left hand. She will also “rock” A and E back and forth, each hand alone, using a rotational motion. (demonstrated at lesson) These are each “long sounds” spanning many measures.


Today we explored a NEW note value: The WHOLE NOTE

I cut out a cardboard oval and darkened the boundaries. We clapped “WHOLE NOTE HOLD DOWN,” and separately, ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR.
(Rina and her mom will craft more whole notes out of cardboard during the week)

I enlisted whole notes for a L.H. bass part to accompany “Frere Jacques” which Rina had already mastered. Currently, she can see my WHOLE NOTE ENTRIES in measures she’s been “reading” on a paper with floating treble notes and stems. Now the Left Hand whole notes are drawn under those for the Right Hand. (approximating the way she will actually read music on the staff when she’s ready)

Back to Carnival of the Animals.

Rina has been listening to the Rachlin ensemble You Tube performance of The LION, and separately, to a transcription for piano that I recorded. The latter gives her an opportunity to play her A-E chord to the music during the week. (and then to “rock” the notes back and forth)


Lessons are moving along nicely. Rina plays “Frere Jacques” in C Major and C parallel minor (using Eb) and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

She’s been studying piano with me for 5 months.

Here’s Rina, Miss Denise, her French tutor, and Aiden cat all bundled together.


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