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Rina’s Lesson-in-Progress: From the staircase to the piano (Reinagle Minuet in G) Videos

Rina, 5, has embarked upon her 7th month of study and is scaling my staircase before settling down to the piano. I’ve used this routine to imbue a sense of music’s topography before a keyboard transfer. It’s working.

Videotaped samples:

On the stairs:

At the Piano:
(with a preliminary five-finger position legato roll between the hands starting on G)








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Teaching piano to Rina, 5, with a supplementary video for mom that outlines our lesson plan and goals

Rina’s mother attends her daughter’s lessons, takes notes, and receives a follow-up assignment.

Today, I sent her a video that summarized what we had accomplished yesterday along with a goal-setting outline.


The child has been working on her legato which is a new and enticing musical universe. For the better part of 6 months she’s had considerable saturation with single, detached notes, using one finger at a time.

Last week, I felt it was the perfect moment to join notes in a connected fashion because I’d seen her do this on her own, and felt she possessed the musical and physical ability to move forward.

Here’s a snatch of Rina’s legato from her last lesson:

And her preliminary work on Minuet by Reinagle:



She’s now playing her “Frere Jacques” in Major and minor (with Eb) using connected fingers (Legato)

In this regard, Rina currently “reads” a pre-notational form of music, where the notes in various rhythmic values float in space, going up and down in STEPS and SKIPS. Bar lines have been inserted along with letter names and finger numbers. (These pre-staff landmarks have been gradually learned)

EXAMPLE of the format with “Frere Jacques”


This latest video prepared for mom pertains to practicing an expanded five-finger warm-up in legato and the Reinagle Minuet in G Major.


MY PREP VIDEO for the Reinagle piece, created earlier, encouraged ear-training, clapping and singing activity, etc. in readiness for playing.


For the intricate intervals in measures 13-16, I’d planned to enlist staircase activity which is demonstrated on video. (Note that a FLAT can be added for the Parallel minor, which I illustrated at the conclusion of footage)


Finally, here’s an overview of Rina’s progress before she embarked upon legato phrasing:


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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.”