Special Birthday Song
I wrote this for a student to learn to play for his brother’s birthday. You can use this with any beginning student. I decided not to put finger numbers in the “staff” version so that you can use what ever position you wish to start on. Also, the pre-reading version can be played on the black keys. If you have a young beginner with a summer birthday, this might be a fun song to print!
Isn’t it kind of sad when our students get too old for this kind of thing? Sad, and happy, too, because we can introduce them to a whole new world of music!
I originally drew the illustrations for a birthday game I posted a few years back. Click on the title below for the free download. This game has two levels, so you can play it with more than just beginners. It’s a fun game and it doesn’t have to be their birthday to play. It might be fun to use if you’re having a summer piano camp. The game is a big file, and it may take a while to download.
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
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.]
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.