Category Archives: Elementary Music

Come Ye Thankful People Come – Elementary

Come Ye Thankful People Come

Come Ye Thankful People Come

Today I am posting another well-known Thanksgiving hymn. I put off arranging this for beginners because I was undecided about how to present the dotted quarter note and the best way to write the treble A.

I finally decided to teach the rhythm by rote and use what is called “near middle C position” which is a nice way to say it isn’t in middle C position.

In this case, the right hand is in D minor position. I use this frequently because moving the thumb just slightly gives you “A.” What a difference it is to have one more note! What would Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star be without the treble A? In singing it is a very important note!

If both thumbs are on middle C and there is a treble A in the music, what can you do? Cross the left hand over to play it? Move the pinkie over every time there is an A? Shift the hand? Yes, all of these work and I think the teacher has to decide what is best for her particular students.

But if the song has other challenges, such as the dotted quarter note in this hymn, I think it is easier to write the right hand in D position. If this is a new position, some extra finger numbers and circling the skipping fingers will give them confidence that they can do it.

This might be a good time to mention that it is fairly easy to teach the dotted rhythm by rote. Substitute the words in the first phrase with London Bridge is Falling Down and tap it on the piano cover. Use both hands at first, and then use the correct hands. Change from hands to the correct fingers and play the phrase in the air, then the piano. Because I really want your students to enjoy this Thanksgiving hymn! PS It would be great for you to add some chords while they play an octave higher!

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Filed under Elementary Music, Thanksgiving

Easter Games, Worksheets, and Music

With Easter almost here, I thought I’d list some of the material I’ve posted on my Easter page. You should be able to click on the image and get the file. If it is a game, it should take you to the page that has instructions. This is all material that I freely share. There is no sign up and no strings attached.

Please let me know if you find any broken links. I am still working on organizing things so all the bugs aren’t worked out yet! If you see something that I have left off of the Easter page, please let me know.

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Filed under Easter, Elementary Music, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Pre-reading, Preschool Music Resources

The Strife is O’er – an Easy Easter Hymn

The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Won

The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Won

The Strife is O’er, the Battle Won is an Easter hymn that has wonderful, majestic music attributed to Palestrina. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) was an important and influential musician in the history of music. The lyrics, to the best of my knowledge, were from an old Latin hymnbook and were translated into English in the 19th century. The first line containing the “alleluias” was evidently added at that time and was not part of the original music by Palestrina.

This powerful hymn is an Easter resurrection hymn, but it is also used in funerals. It was used at the funeral of one of my favorite students and I always tear up when I hear it.

While this hymn might not be as well-known as the last Easter hymn I posted, I think it makes a good Easter hymn for teachers who have students who want to play hymns. It is particularly suited for older beginners or students who are interested in playing for church in the future.

I have heard the hymn with organ, piano, orchestra, and even a praise band, and for a 500 year old hymn, it has passed the time test! Musically, my arrangement also has some teaching skills, including pedal point and playing 3-note chords together to get a clean sound. They need to practice lifting their wrists/hands when they move from the chord in measure 6 and play measure 7. Beginners tend to keep their finger on the repeated note.

Like a lot of older hymns, it is usually written in 3/2 time, so don’t be horrified that I changed it to 3/4! I actually originally arranged it in 3/2 but it looked confusing for students at this level.

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Filed under Easter, Elementary Music

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today – an Easy Version

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today

I’m posting an  arrangement of Christ the Lord Is Risen Today for students who want to play easy arrangements of Easter Hymns. This arrangement requires students to shift hands and play some patterns that are not exactly in 5-finger patterns. You will notice this is not as easy as it looks and sounds. The left hand accompaniment in the second measure of the “Alleluia” pattern (the end of each line) can be omitted if it proves to be too difficult. Help your student with the first measure of the last line. That is a tricky passage, as well as the left hand of the last measure. If it is too difficult, try omitting the left hand when it doesn’t have the melody.

This is one of my favorite Easter hymns. The lyrics were written by Charles Wesley (the Anglican Church pastor and the founder of the Methodist movement in the U.S.) and the music is attributed to Lyra Davidica, which is obviously not a person’s name. I am a history buff and I was curious about that, so in my usual way, I did some research.

It turns out that Lyra Davidica ( David’s Harp) was hymn book published in 1708. The full title is Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns, partly newly composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns; and set to easy and pleasant tunes). It seems the English were rather envious of the German’s “pleasant and tuneful melodies,” so this book was a way to bring some of those tunes to England. What musician wouldn’t be jealous of the Germans, who produced some of the greatest musicians who ever lived! Fortunately for English speakers, we were able to nab Handel! 😉

Thanks to the IMSLP Music Library, which has a huge data base of public domain classical music, I was able to look through every page of this old hymn book and see the original melody, which is evidently an anonymous tune. It was slightly more flourisher, but basically the same. Was the composer German? We will never know. The words, of course, are different, since Charles Wesley was born in 1703, but the original tune has Easter lyrics.

Hymn books of that time were very different from hymn books we use now. The old hymn books would alternate between hymns with music notation and other hymns with the verses only and no notation. It is interesting that nowadays in some churches the same thing is done, with the lyrics being projected on a screen or written in a church bulletin with no accompanying music notation.

This is a very old hymn, and the fact that it is still around says something about both the music and the lyrics. I hope by encouraging our students to learn some of these hymns, we can pass along our music legacy.

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Filed under Easter, Elementary Music