Prior to commencing work on Book 2 there are a number of concepts that need to have been covered.
Using White Keys The student should have been introduced to playing on white keys. Show them how to slide down from the black keys. They may need help sliding each pitch the same way. Notice the patterns. There is a spare white key between “so” and “mi” and between “mi” and “do”.
Using One Hand Ask the student to try and play their favourite so-mi songs with one hand. Make sure they understand that we need relaxed hands so must not use adjacent fingers across a gap.
Musical Alphabet Ask the student if they know their alphabet, they will probably recite it to you, or even sing it. Explain that in music we name the white keys on the keyboard after the letters of the alphabet. You might have a conversation about how many white keys there are. Certainly more than 26! Explain that we only use the first seven letters but they repeat over and over. You can make this sound exciting and easy, only 7 instead of 26! Sometimes I pretend to be sad. My name is Helen and the alphabet doesn’t go as far as H. Depending on the student’s name you can be sad together or happy that their name is included! Show them that on a full-size keyboard we start at the bottom with A and count up the keys as you play, reciting the seven letters. Show them an F and challenge them to find all the Fs. Depending on the ability they will be able to find the Gs fairly easily.
Grand Staff Together discuss how many keys there are on a piano and how few can be covered by only 5 lines on a stave. To cover a larger range we use a Grand Staff. We can draw one on some paper or a whiteboard. Talk about where the highest notes sit on the Grand Staff (hint – on the top stave), and where the lowest notes sit (the bottom stave). Which hand should we use to play the high notes? So the high stave notes are played by the high (or right) hand and the low stave notes are played by the low (or left) hand. If your student struggles with left and right then refer instead to high and low hands.
With the Book
Either with the book or on a whiteboard explain that we need some help working out which line is which key on the Grand Staff. To show the Bass Clef points to the F line you can start by writing an upper case F on the low stave with the arms of the F sitting on either side of the F line. You can write more and more Fs, each time getting more and more lazy or ornamental until it looks like a Bass Clef. The Bass Clef shows us where the Bass F line is.
The Bass Clef is introduced first because finding Fs on the keyboard is easier than finding Gs. The lyrics of the first piece, Bass Clef F (p2), help the student remember this link between Bass Clef and F. “Bass Clef, Bass Clef, show me how to find the F.” The student doesn’t need to play this piece on the piano, it’s there to sing.
The following page has familiar so-mi songs from Book 1, written on the Grand Staff, each starting on Bass F. The student must find the starting note using their knowledge of the Bass Clef and then play the pieces with their left hand only. If a student is struggling, you can take them back onto the black keys and then slide down to so = F.
They do not need to know that mi is D. They should just find its position on the keyboard by using their knowledge of so and mi.
Treble Clef G (p5) repeats the same activities, but this time for Treble G. Show the students that once upon a time the G line was labelled with a G. That G morphed into the Treble Clef. I show that the spiral of the Treble Clef circles the G line just like the spiral of the upper-case G. The descender of the lower-case g also looks a bit like the tail on the Treble Clef. It’s a bit of a stretch for the imagination but if you present it with humour then the idea will stick. In addition the lyrics of the Treble Clef G song will help “Treble Clef, help me please. I just cannot find the Gs.”
We then have two pages of familiar songs from Book 1 to help practise using the right hand and finding Treble G. These songs are drawn from the collection of la-so-mi and so-mi-do songs from Book 1. Again they do not need to name the other notes as A or E etc. They should just find their positions on the keyboard by using their solfa knowledge.
The unit finishes, as always, with 5-a-day sight reading exercises. Here we have a mixture of melodies starting on either Treble G or Bass F.