"Tales of a Musical Journey", "Tales of a Musical Journey" by Irina Gorin, Irina Gorin, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Minuet by Reinagle, pianist, piano, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano teaching, playing piano, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, teaching piano to children, whole body listening, whole body music listening, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube, you tube video, yout tube

Piano Lesson: Rina, 5, learns to play legato across five fingers from C to G and back

Six months of piano lessons:

Rina made a big jump today after having had considerable experience playing single, detached fingers for all notes in the music alphabet. In addition she’s been rolling pairs of fingers to create a nice legato from note to note. (2-note slurs) I’ve prepped her with 1,2 and in reverse, 2 to 1; 2 to 3, 3 to 2; 3 to 4, 4 to 3, etc. in each separate hand.

Prior to Rina’s new exploration of finger-to-finger legato, she had played “Frere Jacques” and “Twinkle, Twinkle,” using single, detached, fingers, of each hand in Major and parallel minor.

Most recently, she embarked upon Minuet by Reinagle from Faber’s Elementary Developing Artist series. (still using one finger at a time, non-legato)

Today, I felt was the right moment to string notes together smooth and connected, using middle C to G and back with a rolling motion across these notes, thumb, 2, 3, 4, 5 and in reverse.

Not seen on camera, is Rina doing the same in the Left Hand, starting point, Middle C. (finger 5)

I also drew a horizontal line through the black circle, known to her as the “short” sound, to indicate MIDDLE C’s notational identity.

In the last few weeks, she has been “reading” floating notes, as black circles, white circles, white circle with a dot, (dotted-half note) running notes (8ths) and an oval- shaped note with thick boundaries: “whole note hold down.”

These have been separately arranged on the music rack in cardboard form, and randomized for Rina to clap and then set to an individually designated note and finger. (alternating hands)

Rina has from the outset explored smooth “rainbow movements” between octave notes, and has been saturated with the spongy, supple wrist, and “weeping willow” relaxed arms. (borrowed from Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Musical Journey)

Here’s a snatch from today’s lesson that was hallmarked by the progression to legato playing.

Rina is now practicing the first phrase of the Reinagle Minuet LEGATO in measures 4 (B, C, D) and 7-8. (G to D) (Right Hand)

In the B section she today learned to ROTATE from C (finger 1) to G (finger 5) measure 7-8. (We have stopped there for now)

She had no problem with the ROTATION motion, and it made the leap easy to navigate.

My recording of the Minuet on You Tube has been the aural and physical model for Rina’s approach to this piece, following her period of playing detached notes with the same finger.

I embrace the philosophy that NO method book is tailor made to fit a child’s musical growth and development at the piano. Each student needs adjustments based upon physical and musical abilities.

It’s the teacher’s job to be creative and intuitive about what seems the best route, making pivotal decisions along the way.


Rina shows outstanding progress through 6 months of piano lessons. Videos of Rina playing “Frere Jacques,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle.”


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