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Growing piano technique in baby steps: Rina, 5, advances to hands together five-finger positions (adding in 10ths)

Rina may not know the words “pentascales” and “tenths,” but she has the intelligence to notice when her fingers move up and down together, playing the same notes an “octave” apart. With a sound knowledge of the music alphabet in both directions, she has good cognitive reinforcement. (She also knows “running notes” or 8ths, “long sounds”–half notes, “short sounds”– quarters, and “half-note dot” is a dotted-half note.)

But note-name recognition and having a concept of rhythmic values are just part of the learning process. She needs to cultivate the singing tone wedded to limpid phrasing–a dimension of playing we’ve explored from day one embracing Irina Gorin’s Tales of a Music Journey philosophy.

In this regard, Rina is working on softening the impact of her thumbs, so she can nicely roll into her LEGATO five-finger positions and smoothly taper them. (LEGATO means smooth and connected, finger-to-finger)

She has progressed from having played each hand alone through five notes ascending and descending, in a “conversational” way, to synchronizing both hands at the same time in parallel motion.

She also creates an “echo” effect on a repeat and we make sure to include the parallel minor in her playings. (Black notes also belong to the keyboard family)

Next, I thought to introduce a bit of “magic.”

How about starting the Right Hand on E while the Left Hand remained on bass C. (still five notes up and down but spaced in 10ths)

Rina took to it like a duck in water especially with an enticing harmonic landscape.

Here are two snatches from her lesson, starting with the first (both hands playing same notes in legato)

In the second video, she plays in 10ths:

Our next piece is “Little March” by Daniel Gottlob Turk. This follows Minuet by Reinagle of which Rina is separately studying the bass part. In addition she’s rendering it in the “minor,” enlisting a “B flat.” (She performed the melody on our recent Spring Recital) The Reinagle piece came with its own new landmark: Rina played detached and legato notes in one selection.

I’ve prepared a video to assist mom with ear-training experiences for “Little March” during the week. Rina will be saturated with listening; doing hand signals for melodic shape; singing notes and then rhythms. (phrase one) This is the first stage of her learning process.

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LINK:

Rina plays at the Spring Recital


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/rina-5-performs-at-our-spring-recital-after-8-months-of-piano-lessons-video/

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An exceptional set of piano “arrangements” for Intermediate Level students (Carnival of the Animals) VIDEOS

In the past, I’ve ranted against giving piano students “arrangements” of celebrated compositions like Fur Elise and Chopin’s Waltz in Eb Major. The latter appears, significantly reduced, in the Faber Adult Accelerated edition. It’s a token Classical music offering interspersed by Boogie Woogie snatches. Oh, I forgot the revised Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and a curious transposition of Mozart’s Theme and Variations Sonata, K. 331.

(The above prejudice does not circumscribe well-regarded, advanced level transcriptions by Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, and others. Examples: “Liebestraume,” and “Flight of the Bumblebee,” to name a few)

In the realm of elementary and intermediate level piano studies, however, transcriptions or arrangements as found in method books, can be easily replaced with comparably leveled music in original form that has greater musical and teaching value.

Examples: Minuets by Hook, Mozart, J.S Bach, Rameau, et al.

Having said that, I’m going to depart from my well-known inflexibility and praise a collection of Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals “arranged” for piano by Hans-Gunter Heumann.”

I stumbled upon this treasure trove of miniatures after my Intermediate level students had been saturated with the Rachlin ensemble’s performance of Carnival on You Tube.

A feast of wondrous tableaux, it was my student’s entree into the colorful cosmos of French composer, Camille Saint-Saens. Yet, I hadn’t known at the time that my recommended listening assignment would be followed by a hands-on journey through his music in a reduced but appealing form.

As a preliminary, here’s the roster of Rachlin’s You Tube offerings that my students sampled before their playing adventures. (Roger Moore, narrator, serves up delightful Ogden Nash verses as accompaniment)

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=carnival+of+the+animals+racklin&oq=carnival+of+the+animals+racklin&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=s&gs_upl=3939l15554l0l17710l45l39l10l15l25l1l657l3142l3.6.2.1.0.2l14l0

Now here are selections from Heumann’s colorfully illustrated collection that contains 14 pieces:

Introduction and Lion

This tableau was the springboard for a teaching opportunity:

The Aquarium

The Elephant

RACHLIN sample on the double bass:

Wild Asses

CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS: (WIKI)

Composer, Camille Saint-Saens (1835 to 1921)

“Le carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The orchestral work has a duration between 22 and 30 minutes

“Le carnaval was composed in February 1886 while Saint-Saëns was vacationing in a small Austrian village. It was originally scored for a chamber group of flute/piccolo, clarinet (B flat and C), two pianos, glass harmonica, xylophone, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, but is usually performed today with a full orchestra of strings, and with a glockenspiel substituting for the rare glass harmonica. The term for this rare 11-piece musical ensemble is a “hendectet” or an “undectet.”

“Saint-Saëns, apparently concerned that the piece was too frivolous and likely to harm his reputation as a serious composer, suppressed performances of it and only allowed one movement, Le cygne, to be published in his lifetime. Only small private performances were given for close friends like Franz Liszt.

“Saint-Saëns did, however, include a provision which allowed the suite to be published after his death. It was first performed on 26 February 1922, and it has since become one of his most popular works. It is a favorite of music teachers and young children, along with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. In fact, it is very common to see any combination of these three works together on modern CD recordings.”

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Rina, 4, played “Frere Jacques” with two hands, adding a bass part in whole notes (Video)

Charming little Rina has made a big leap in progress. Last week we were exploring WHOLE NOTES, and I asked her to practice one whole note per measure in the Bass to support the Treble melody in “Frere Jacques.” Today, I enjoyed her lovely reading. (This particular piece is mapped out on paper, with rhythmic note values and bar lines. I prop it on the piano rack for Rina to follow.) The Left Hand Whole notes are written in the right places under the melody so she is “reading” notes that float in space on one level for now.

I will start writing them reflecting up and down movement when we next meet. She’s also had considerable exposure to stair climbing to advance her understanding of interval relationships between notes–up/down/steps/skips by placing letter name flash cards on each step. We’ve completed this activity for “Frere Jacques” and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” That’s where the concept of the playground as music teacher has been so relevant and helpful.

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As promised, here’s Rina’s latest video sharing:

She has now taken 5 months of piano lessons, and has well absorbed instruction related to producing a singing tone. This has encompassed reinforcement of the supple wrist, and free, uninhibited upper arm rolled movements. We have spent all this time playing NON-legato, (detached notes) which will lay a foundation for eventual Legato (smooth and connected) note practice.

After we videotaped the French folk song, Rina played the tune in the parallel minor using Eb.

Rina knows her music alphabet going forward and in reverse, and can identify and name the most recent accidental, Eb.

She can recognize notes that are held for one count, two counts, and now four counts.

At the conclusion of today’s lesson, Rina played A and E together with her left hand fingers number 5 and 1 in steady half notes, as I read a piano arrangement of “The Lion” from Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals.

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Links:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/update-on-rina-age-4-and-her-musical-progress-at-the-piano/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/rina-4-proves-that-the-best-teacher-is-the-playground-15-weeks-of-piano-lessons-completed-video/