I often receive email from teachers who are not used to young beginners or parents who want to try out my pre-reading music, so I am posting a suggested teaching plan for this fun folk song. Experienced teachers do not need to read on!
1. Before you begin, teach the song if you discover your student doesn’t know it. Have fun, and maybe play some instruments or march around the room.
2. With both hands, drum out the rhythm on the fall board, singing along. At this point, chanting or singing the song in rhythm takes the place of counting.
3. Using the correct right and left hand, tap the rhythm on the fall board. Each hand has a different colored highlight to help students who get mixed up.
4. I am going to assume your student knows piano finger numbers. But if he does not have experience with skipping fingers, you will need to work on that before you proceed. A good piano method book for young children is invaluable. Also, I have posted some pre-reading solos easier than Bingo that I use as supplemental music.
5. If this is the first time he has used skipping fingers, practice 3 to 1 and 4 to 2 on the fall board. Circle the places on the music where these are found.
6. Play the song in the air, using correct fingers. Try it on the fall board. If he “gets it”, he’s ready to play. Let him find his position.
7. Always count off. Like most folk songs, this one has a pick up beat, which you don’t need to explain at this point. It helps the rhythm if you count off 7 beats at the beginning: “1 2 3 4, now let’s play….”. Point to the notes as he plays so he will learn to read and not look at his hands. This is where all that preparation helps.
8. Make sure he drops into the keys using fingertips and keeps his wrist fairly level. Drop with the forearm. Avoid excessive lifting of each finger up and down in isolation to the rest of the hand. That will lead to some hard to fix problems.
If you are not sure what I mean, watch the following videos.
Dennis Alexander This video shows the student tapping the rhythm on the fall board and playing with a relaxed hand.
Nancy Faber This video shows how to drop into the keys. Watch her other videos of beginning lessons for more information.