with Emma – aged 7
- Present the Bass Clef the Bass F line
- Practise 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
Emma remembers singing Hot Cross Buns last week and happily remembers that it uses do, re and mi. I ask her what is special about re and she can’t remember. A recap is in order. I ask Emma to sing the song and then ask her how the actions help us with the song. She remembers that they show when the pitch is high, medium and low.
I ask Emma if she can sing the song with the solfa instead of the lyrics. I ask her which singing name starts. She remembers it’s mi. She sings the song with a mixture of solfa and a few lyrics. Emma is a little unwell today. Each rest in the song is filled with either a cough or a snif! I wonder if I will make it through the lesson unscathed!
“So which of our pitches is the highest?” Emma lifts her arms in the air with a smile and says mi. “And the lowest?” Emma looks very solemn and says do. “So where is re?” “In the middle!”
We looked at Hot Cross Buns on the stave. I remind Emma that when do is a space note, mi is the space note above. I ask Emma what we learned about re? “It’s a line note like la.” She then sings the song in solfa, reading from the stave.
I asked Emma how she got on when she played it on the piano at home. She spots one of my finger puppets Minim Snail on the piano. I had been using her with my previous Sing and Play student. “Hi Minim, you can listen to me, even though you’re not in this one.” Emma plays it well. She keeps a steady beat, plays the correct notes, uses fingers 4, 3 and 2 and they are beautifully curved. I ask her how she thought she did. She said she did well, then picks up Minim and puts her to her ear. I ask her what Minim thinks. Apparently Minim thinks it was amazing!
We look at the stave lines and count five. We want to be able to show a larger range of pitches so I get out my white board and draw a grand staff. I explain we need two staves and we join them together. So we’ve got a high stave and a low stave. I ask Emma which hand is the best one to play the notes on the high stave and which hand for the notes on the low stave. Emma knows her left and right so she responds with those terms. However some students prefer just to wave the correct hand. If they are not confident with left and right I use high hand and low hand. We look through Crazy Steps and notice that sometimes the notes are on the high stave and sometimes on the low stave.
I ask Emma if she remembers some of the letters we learnt. She starts to play from the bottom of the keyboard. “A, B, C, D, E, F… It’s funny because when I do C, D, E, F then we end up on a different note each time!” Emma has been stopping on the Fs because we were focusing on those last week. Then she starts from A instead of remembering the G. I remind her that F isn’t the last note. She remembers G and is much happier.
Emma confidently finds all the Fs for me. “If you can find all the Fs, can you find all the Gs?” Emma plays all the Gs.
“Did you practise playing Hot Cross Buns with F-do?” Emma plays Hot Cross Buns with the F-do.
We need something on our music to tell us to do that. We need a signpost on our music to tell us which of these line notes is on the F line. “We could put an F on it!” Emma suggests. I ask Emma which hand she used to play on the F-do, luckily she used her left hand.
I show Emma the Bass F line on the low stave, and label it by drawing a capital F where the F line cuts between the horizontal crossbars of the capital F. Then I show how we can make it more and more fancy until it looks like a Bass Clef. The Bass Clef is the special signpost we use to find the F line. All the line notes on the F line are Bass Fs. I sing so-mi song.
“Bass Clef, Bass Clef
Show me how to find the F.
You look like a fancy F
So your two dots show F, Bass Clef.”
I ask Emma if she can find any Bass Clefs in her Crazy Steps book. She can! Emma draws some Bass Clefs on the white board.
We lay out some landmark notes from the Crazy Steps Game Cards and hide them with some of the Hot Cross Buns cards. Emma tells me she had some Hot Cross Buns yesterday and they were very yummy. I ask Emma if she remembers what our signpost was called. She can’t. Using a low voice I remind her it’s the Bass Clef. I explain that Bass means low so the Bass Clef often sits on the low stave but not always.
I ask Emma to choose a bun, look at what’s underneath and say if it’s an F or not. First Emma finds a G, although of course she doesn’t know that. I ask Emma if it’s an F. She says it’s not. I ask her how she knows. She says it’s on the wrong line. I remind her that the F line sits between the two dots.
Emma chooses another bun and this time reveals and F. She squeals with excitement. “An F!” she cries. I ask her to run to the piano and play an F for me. “Which one?” she asks. “The one you played Hot Cross Buns with,” I reply. “The one near the middle.” Emma plays Bass F with her right hand. “Which hand do you think you should use?” “The left hand!” Emma plays again with her left hand. “That’s Bass F” I say.
She turns over another bun and finds another F. Hooray! I ask which hand she’s going to play with. She waves her left hand and plays with her left hand. We finish the set and Emma wants to play again. I tell her we can play again at the end so she mixes up the order and replaces the buns for later.
Emma and I turned to Hot Cross Buns in F-do in the Crazy Steps book. I ask Emma if she can find any Fs. She points to all the Fs on the page. I ask Emma which singing name (solfa) we find at the end of our pieces. Which is the strongest? Emma says do and shows me the hand sign for do. I ask her to point to the last note in the piece and tell me the letter name. She excitedly identifies it as an F.
“So let’s play it on the piano so that our do is F. I know you can already do that because you did it earlier!” Emma plays it perfectly, looks at me, smiles and sneezes all over me.
“Can you sing the song in solfa from the stave?” Emma sings in solfa with a good attempt at the hand signs.
I ask “This time, is do a line note or a space note?” Emma says it’s a line note.
“Is mi a line note or a space note?” Emma says it’s a line note.
“So where is re?” Emma squeals that it’s a space note!
“So if do is F, what letter names do re and mi have?” Emma suggests E but stops herself and goes up to G and A.
I ask Emma if she can sing A, G, F instead of mi, re. do. She can.
Recap the Principal Objective – Bass Clef
I point to the Bass Clef and I ask Emma if she remembers what it’s called. She suggests an F, showing she remembers that it signposts the F line. I remind her that it’s a Bass Clef and Bass means low.
Emma draws some more Bass Clefs on the white board, while I dot some in her manuscript book. She then traces over my dots in the manuscript book and tries some more of her own. Each time, she must draw a note-head on the F line to show the Bass F position.
While she is drawing I sing the Bass Clef song. Emma struggles to put her dots in the right place so I remind her that it’s the dots that show the F line so we must put them in the right places! I ask her to fill the page of her manuscript book with Bass Clefs and Fs for homework.
Fun with Hunt The Fs Again
To finish the lesson we play the Hunt the Fs game again and then Emma plays Hot Cross Buns in F-do.
Emma explains that she can’t practise tonight because her friend is coming round. Then decides that they could play schools and she can be the piano teacher and teach them how to play. I wonder how she got on with that! Must remember to ask her next week.
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