Tag Archives: Pre-reading piano music

Keyboard Cards for Bats and Cats

Bat And Cats Keyboard Cards

Bats and Cats Keyboard Cards

Yesterday, when  I posted the Bats and Cats Note Game, I said I would make some keyboard cards. I had no idea there would be so many requests for the keyboard cards, really too many for me to email. So I’m posting them here. To print, select the caption below the graphic above.

After I made the cards, I noticed they are in portrait orientation, not landscape like the board game, so set your printer accordingly.

I hope your beginning students enjoy it!  And thank you so much for all the encouraging comments about this game! It is really great to feel appreciated!

Don’t forget the Bats and Cats Rhythm Game! Bats and Cats Game

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A Snail’s Gotta Do What a Snail’s Gotta Do

Snail SnailSnail, Snail

Recently I sang this with a preschool student to help him find his singing voice. After numerous questions that only a 4-year-old can ask, such as, “Why did the snail want to go around the water pail?” and “What is a water pail?” he started giggling and told me he “liked this song.” Trying hard not to get distracted, I told him that was just what snails like to do. Then he asked me to teach him how to play it on the piano.

So, always ready to please my students (preschool children are so more easier to please than high school students!), I wrote it out for the piano. I have to admit I get a little thrilled when a student asks to play something. This time his questions were about my drawings. (“Why is the snail smiling? Why is he green and orange? Why is the water blue? What does a snail eat? What if he falls in the water pail?”). I hope you have a sense of humor because you need it with children.

Getting back to piano, notice that Snail, Snail is played with the third finger of each hand. This is my sneaky way to help little students learn to brace their third finger and drop into the keys. If you have a beginner who is having trouble developing a rounded hand shape, maybe this piece will help. If you are a parent helping your child, be sure to drop into the keys, not lift individual fingers. Try to help them keep all their fingers rounded and not poking out this way and that. Suggest that their hand is holding a cute green snail and we don’t want to crush it!

You can learn about the braced finger from Nancy and Randall Faber’s Piano Adventures and My First Piano Adventures. If you’re not sure how to teach the concept, check out their videos. [On their homepage click Teacher Guides, > My First PA Tour and Videos, > Video Lesson Guide, and watch Hangin' on a Fence Post.]

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School Is Starting Back – a pre-reading piece with duet

School is Starting Back

I composed this little solo for a beginning student who has taken long enough to play on the white keys. In order to avoid skipping fingers I tried to make all the notes seconds. Sometimes that leaves a little to be desired when it comes to melody. Although Beethoven was able to produce the greatest 5-finger melody ever written using only seconds and a couple of skips,  I don’t have that ability by any means! However, I added a teacher duet you can play along to spice this up.

The most difficult spot may be the fourth finger in the right hand of the last phrase. That is not a strong finger so I plan to do a little spot practicing there.

As usual, my teaching suggestion is to teach the song first without piano (transpose, because it is in a register too low for children), tap out the rhythm like a drum on the fall board, repeat using the correct hands,  practice playing in the air with the correct fingers, play using fingers on the fall board, and finally try it on the piano. Usually if I do all that, the student is successful and very proud of himself! Of course, older students won’t need all those steps, usually.

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A pre-reading version of Bingo

Bingo

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.

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It’s October

It’s October

I wrote this  piece  for a new student because  I wanted something special to play at her second lesson. She was delighted with it.  

If you’ve never seen piano material like this before, this is a pre-reading piece that can be used at the first or second lesson. The student plays on the group of three black keys, moving down toward the bass.  If you need more help, check out some of the newer piano methods at your local music store. I use My First Piano Adventures for pre-school and first grade children,  and Book A of that series contains a lot of pre-reading material.

No wonder students get confused when learning to play the piano. The numbers and words go one way (right), while the left  hand moves down the keys the other way.  In a few weeks it is normal for most students, but others have get confused.  It is something to think about when we try to understand why some children have so much trouble learning to read music. Reading music presents so many challenges for young children! 

If you want some more music for the first lesson when students have not yet learned quarter notes, I have posted a few.  From my website you can download:

What the Robin Said to the Worm,

What the Worm Said to the Robin

 Fourth of July, and 

 Canada Day.

In addition, there is a lot of pre-reading music on my website using quarter, half, and whole notes. The ones above use only finger numbers.

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Filed under Halloween, Pre-reading, Preschool Music Resources