Crazy Steps Lesson 1

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crazy-steps-web-a4with Emma – aged 7

Through Sing and Play I have prepared, presented and practised steady beat and pulse, high and low pitch, rhythm names ta (crotchets/quarter notes) and titi (quavers/eighth notes) and the ta rest. I have also prepared, presented and practised the singing names or solfa do, so, mi and la. We prepared re during our Christmas lesson but it was not presented. Keyboard work has been on the black keys and she has mostly been using both hands but with single bouncing fingers.

In our last lesson Emma and I started to look at the white keys and had learnt that they are named after the musical alphabet ABCDEFG. Emma discovered that we can use the patterns of the black keys to find certain letters. We practised finding all the Fs.

Lesson 1 Objectives

  • Present re and its key facts using Hot Cross Buns
    • re is higher than do and lower than mi
    • If do and mi are line notes then re is the space note in between
    • If do and mi are space notes then re is the line note in between
  • Practise ta, titi and ta rest using Hot Cross Buns
  • Practise the Musical Alphabet and find the Fs on the keyboard

Sing Hot Cross Bunsbuns-single-strip

Emma already knows Hot Cross Buns from our group musicianship classes. I sing it with no lyrics, on a lu sound and Emma knows it immediately. We sing the song together with the actions and then Emma sings on her own.

Practise Rhythm

hearts-single-stripI show Emma the heart beat strips from Musicianship Game Cards. We use them to work out how many beats there are in the song and sing the song while tapping the pulse on the hearts.

“Can you clap the way the words go?” Emma claps the rhythm of the first two lines, but on “One a penny…” she claps the pulse and not the rhythm. We discuss how many sounds there are in “One a penny” and in “Two a penny” – there are four in each. Emma claps the rhythm again and this time it is accurate.

“If I tap the pulse with my pencil, can you clap the rhythm and sing the song in your thinking voice?”

Get out the Bun Cards!

hot-cross-buns-rhythm-cardsAfter a little chat about how delicious hot cross buns smell in the supermarket I get out the bun cards from the Crazy Steps Game Cards set. Sometimes a beat has one bun, sometimes it has two buns and sometimes it has….”
Emma loudly whispers “Qui-et!”

Emma places the bun cards over the heart beats to represent the rhythm. Then she claps the rhythm again. Emma starts the final line too fast and stops herself to correct it.

“What did you notice at the end?” I ask. “I was going too fast and you need to go slow” replies Emma. Emma performs it perfectly the second time.

I ask Emma to say the rhythm names ta and titi. It is quite fast and not as accurate as it could be.

“Now do it while I tap the pulse” I tap a slower pulse and Emma performs accurately.

What about the pitch?

We sing the song again with the actions. This time I want to discuss the pitch. I ask Emma what pitch is.

“The pitch is how high it is or low it is or really low!”
Emma changes the pitch of her voice to match her explanation!

I ask Emma if the actions of our song help us with the pitch and she exclaims that we’re going high, middle and low with our arms!

Representing the pitch

We then used the buns to show what happens to the pitch. Emma lays out the buns to match the melodic contour but incorrectly places the cards for “One a penny” across four pitches. Hilariously Emma is so keen to answer my question “How many buns on each pitch?” she starts shouting out random numbers while I try to get her to listen to the song! Eventually she listens and is able to correct her bun cards.

Presenting new note re

solfa-blog-sample“What’s the name of the new pitch we did a few weeks ago?” Emma remembers it was do and shows me the hand sign. “That’s right, well this one is do.” I place a do card from Musicianship Game Cards on the lowest bun.

Emma excitedly grabs some solfa cards and puts mi and so on the other two buns.

“Well actually I’m going to tell you something interesting. This one is actually mi.”
I place mi on the highest bun as Emma’s eyes widen!
“So this one must be a new pitch.” I continue. “It’s called re and it’s in between…”

Emma interrupts me with a squeal!
Do and mi!! I’ve seen re at my friend’s house!!”
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her so excited!

Re: Key Facts

“So what do we know about do and mi? If do is a line note, what is mi?”

“A line note too! Like so!”

“So if they’re line notes, what do you think re will be?”

“A SPACE NOTE! Like la!!”

“And if do and mi are space notes?”

re and la are line notes!!”

crazy-steps-web-a4Brand New Book

Reading from the clef-less stave version, Emma sings Hot Cross Buns. She then performs the rhythm names ta and titi.

She finds do and identifies it as a space note. “So what do you think re will be?” I ask.
Emma correctly answers that re will be a line note and then counts them. There are 7 but she counts 11. I ask her to check again and make sure she is only counting line notes. She re-counts more carefully and agrees there are 7.

Emma then sings the first line in solfa perfectly. Before I let her continue I want her to think carefully about the notes she misread when counting. We discuss what she thinks the next note is before singing the phrase and then the whole song.

drm-piano-keysPlaying on the keys

At the piano Emma quickly identifies the F♯ as do and the A♯ as mi. So works out that the re must be the G♯.

She uses a single bouncing finger to play Hot Cross Buns on the three black keys but hesitates after “One a penny” and after “Two a penny”. I ask her where the rests are, and if there are any in the “One a penny” bar. She shakes her head, tries again but still plays with hesitations.

Making the piano sing

I explain that we want to make the piano sing. Emma gasps, “I’m singing in my head and the piano is singing for me!”

I sing the song twice, the second time with the hesitations. Emma says “The first one is better because you didn’t stop when there’s no silent beat. We’re not allowed to add extra silent beats.”

“So can you sing and play at the same time so that you don’t add the extra silent beat?” I ask. Emma tries really hard but still has hesitations. “You’re thinking about your notes really hard. But if we need time to think, what can we do to give ourselves that time while we’re playing.”

Emma has an idea. “We might have to think about it before. So think before you get to it, but quickly.” She leans forward so her face is almost touching the music and looks carefully at each note. I fail to suppress my giggles. She’s not joking but I can’t see how she can possibly be reading the notes!

“Here’s another trick – how about you play it slower? Then there will be more time between each note for you to think what’s coming next.”

Emma plays it much slower, while I tap a beat.

“That was better and easier” she observes.

“What made it easier?”

“We did it really slowly so we could think about it more.”

Emma tries again without my help. She notices it was better but not the best. We identify that she started slowly but then slipped into playing fast again. When Emma keeps the beat steady and slow it is better. The piano is singing.

Musical Alphabet – Finding the Fs

We move the bench out of the way and I ask Emma if she can remember how to find the Fs on the piano. I am expecting Emma to count up from the bottom of the piano for the first F and then either count up for each subsequent F or notice the pattern of the black keys. However Emma immediately plays all the Fs from bottom to top. She has clearly been practising this at home.

Challenge – Transposing into F-do

I wasn’t expecting to transpose to F-do this lesson but since Emma is so confident finding the Fs I offer her a challenge? “You’ve just played Hot Cross Buns on the black keys. What if I said do was F?” I’m not referencing the clefs or staves at the moment.

Emma places her fingers on F, G and A and plays Hot Cross Buns with no hesitation.

“Can you play Hot Cross Buns on all the Fs?”

Recap the Principal Objective – New Note re

The principal objective for today’s lesson was to present re. To ensure she has understood I ask her to identify the new note re and remind me of its key facts.

  • re is higher than do and lower than mi
  • If do and mi are line notes then re is the space note in between
  • If do and mi are space notes then re is the line note in between

Click here for Lesson 2

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