Sing and Play Teacher Guide

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The First Lesson Take the time to get to know your student. Are they excitable or serious? Can they take instructions or will you need to make everything into a game? Are they independent learners or so independent that they try and dictate the lesson? Are they too shy to make any sounds on the piano or so excited that they come in fists a-blazing?! Do they already have some musical knowledge, conscious or unconscious, about pitch, beat, keyboard geography? Can they already play a fun rote song they have learnt elsewhere? Read more…

Preparing Pulse Performing with a steady beat is a fundamental musical skill and working towards that skill can be part of every music lesson. In Sing and Play, the first songs are limited to single syllable words. With just one sound on a beat it’s really easy for children to use movement to feel the beat. I almost always introduce a song away from the book and the piano. I have a gorgeous little blackbird puppet from The Puppet Company that I use for Black Crow. I call him Quaver (always preparing  for the future!). I bounce the bird on my knee and the children do the same. We also fly him around to show melodic contour, but more on that later! If a child is struggling to feel the beat then I can bounce the bird on their shoulder or hand. The children can choose different places on their body to bounce the bird. Read more…

Preparing Pitch The Mind Reading Game is from Jolly Music Handbook for Beginners by Cyrilla Rowsell and David Vinden, where it is known as the Signals Game. Move away from the keyboard and tell the student they’re going to play a mind reading game. Tell them it is very tricky and they probably won’t be able to do it. Sing “Stand Up” on so-do’ (eg E up to A) and then “Sit Down” on so-do (eg E down to A). Repeat, sometimes repeating the same instruction twice or more in a row. Read more…

Presenting Pitch In the post Preparing Pulse I introduced my simple composition Black Crow and how it can be used to experience pulse or steady beat. It is also perfect for preparing and presenting pitch. We start with my blackbird puppet Quaver. While we sing the song, the child holds the puppet and makes it dance, or fly around. If the child does anything that maps to the melodic contour then draw attention to it. If not, then feel free to model or guide the child. Read more…