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Lesson planning for a 5-year old piano student–(Video)

Rina who’s into her sixth month of study, is ready to learn dotted-half notes. Up to now, she’s been saturated with black and white cardboard circles included within a packet along with Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey instruction.

The black notes (quarters) are known as “short” sounds, and the white ones (Half-notes), “long-sounds”

In “Frere Jacques,” we say:

short short short short–
short short short short—
short short long-sound, short short long-sound

For running notes–8ths
in the next part of “Frere Jacques:”

“run-ning notes and short sounds
“run-ning notes and short sounds

short short long sound (Ding Ding Dong)
short short long sound (echo)

I’ve branched off a bit in my own creative directions, introducing Whole Notes that Rina plays through in the Left hand on Tonic C, and as mentioned, we’ve experienced “running notes” within “Frere Jacques” (“morning bells are –) All FLOATING on a page– no staff notation as yet.

(Rina knows the 7-letter music alphabet forward and in reverse, and can sing letter names)

(also played in the parallel minor using Eb)

Her mom has gone the distance during the week between lessons by creating arts and crafts projects- Rina has cut out cardboard WHOLE NOTES that she brings to her lesson (“Whole Note Hold Down” is how she’s learned its duration)

Today I found a lovely Minuet by Reinagle (Faber Elementary -Developing Artist–old, unrevised edition) to introduce the DOTTED-HALF Note. In this effort, I took one of the cardboard white circles and added a BLACK DOT beside it. After mounting it on a piece of white paper, I made copies for Rina to have today. (It’s a springboard for another arts and crafts activity that Rina can undertake with her mother)


In today’s lesson, we will be clapping dotted half notes, as “HALF NOTE DOT,” and we’ll spend most of the time feeling its rhythm/duration and singing.

Ideally, we should put the notes on white paper and float them OFF the staff since Rina is used to this now but I think she should have “exposure” to what the real score looks like with notes going up and down. (This does NOT pin us down to reading music so early in the child’s musical development)

Rina will learn the Minuet in Non-Legato form, separate hands.

But I will take the leap to let her play one consecutive finger after another. I feel that decisions like these arise from what the teacher intuitively feels is appropriate.

I believe that Rina has enough physical, coordination-related abilities to move ahead now. It will of course be a trial run to see what works. The exploration is subject to modification.

(Incidentally staircase climbing for spatial relationship understanding clearly applies here, since the Minuet encompasses five-notes up and down)

Here’s the video to help things along: (Part A of Minuet only as a start)

Rina will sing, clap, use hand signals, intone rhythmic syllables and then letter names.

Separately, she’ll study the Left Hand voice alone, which is so perfectly written with all the Dotted-Half notes.

The built-in Echo is also a nice follow-up to our work with “Frere Jacques.”

Hands together will wait for a while since we have a new frontier to explore.

In the offing–exploration of parallel minor along with additional key transpositions. These activities should start early in the learning process as part of ear-training experiences.


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