Student “1004”

2/18/12 (Chris)

This week was the 3rd lesson, not counting the interview, that I’ve had the privilege of teaching this young boy.

For someone so young, there is very obvious contagious eagerness in the lessons – and each week, he can’t wait to sit at the piano in the lesson and show me the results of his hard work.  He is careful, loves to count, knows exactly where to play, and observes all the details.  He informed me today, though, that he prefers soft (piano) over loud (forte) – and gave me the perfect opportunity to talk about the dynamics used in music that show more than soft & loud.  With less contrast from pp to p to mp to mf to f to ff, and he shows great control, he was more delighted to try the fortissimo (very loud).

Because this was Valentine’s week, I had chocolates for my students.  We played a modified version of the wonderful game Hi Ho Cherryo.

In this modified version, instead of using a spinner, I have a big block dice with the various basic note values drawn on each side (one whole note, one dotted half note, one half note, and three quarter notes).  When a student (or the teacher) rolls the dice, it will show a note, and the number of beats that note received in 4/4 (common) time is the number of fruit pieces they pick from the tree.  In this case, his favorite color is green (apples) and I chose red (cheeries).  I won the first game, and he won the second game.  We each had an individually wrapped piece of chocolate.  Delicious!  In the process, he learned the dotted half note (one he hadn’t yet encountered) and had to identify the name of each note, how many beats it has, and demonstrate how to clap & count it.

After playing this game, we returned to the piano (since he had already played his well-prepared pieces for me) – and I introduced the names of the white keys.  We used a method a teacher long ago sent me… I wish I could remember the teacher’s name, but it’s been a while.  The three black keys represent the “people house” and the two black keys represent the “dog house”.  We begin with the dog house.  Inside the dog house lives a DOG!  ;)  Sitting in front of the dog house (beside it on the left) is the CAT, being very curious but rather nervous about getting too close.  On the other side of the dog house is where the cat and dog EAT (the note E).  They enjoy eating in front of the people house’s FRONT door (F note).  After you walk through the front door, you’ll encounter the entrance for the GARAGE (or GRAPES on the kitchen counter, depending on the student).  Upon passing the garage (or grapes), you come across the stairs or pulldown for the ATTIC (or open the refrigerator and pull out an APPLE).  Last step is to walk out the BACK door, and go across to your neighbor’s house where you notice the CAT, DOG, EATING, FRONT door, GARAGE, ATTIC, BACK door… and again and again.  :)

He was able to, at the end of the lesson, find the notes not only by memory up and down the piano, but with his eyes closed.  It was a triumphant lesson, and one I think he’ll enjoy practicing this week.

We finished off the lesson with a fun, smelly sticker in his assignment book.  I’m excited to have another exciting, “full of new concepts” lesson next week.

Notes from 2/4/12 entry on his 2nd lesson day.

The last student of the day was a bright young man, 6 years old, who apparently doesn’t stop practicing! He was determined in the lesson to play his songs until they were perfect. It’s only our 2nd “real” lesson, and he’s conquered the black keys, finger numbers, counting/beats, and is ready to move onto the white keys! He loves playing with repeats in the songs, and is eager to learn more all the time.  Last week, I spent a good third of the lesson time answering questions about material farther in the book – and he remembers it!  His enthusiasm is certainly contagious.

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