Great lesson last night. New student, still learning to read the notes. And he admitted he hadn't had time to practice. As we were reviewing his treble clef notes, I observed him leaning closer to the music, pulling back a bit, squinting. "I wonder if this book is online? At work I just enlarge the screen." "Ah, you need glasses," I replied. Middle-age moment. "Let's put the book away and approach this differently."
So we did. First, Twinkle Twinkle. I love teaching this piece; it's part of a first lesson with kids, but not so with adults. It took some doing, but he got it. So well, actually, that his right hand taught his left hand how to play it. Voila! Hands together. Good job!
How about a scale now. He played C to C, using most of his right hand fingers. We corrected for fingering, and he got it. Now add left hand, in contrary motion, both thumbs sharing Middle C. After a few trials, he got it. Good, good, now parallel motion, ascending. Got that too. We were on a roll! But we still had 40 minutes to fill.
"What do you remember about Twinkle Twinkle? Did you know that Mozart wrote 12 variations on this very tune? Let's add some left hand accompaniment." (Yes, I've taught the variations, and have the opening theme etched in my brain.) We learned it measure by measure, left hand first, then adding right hand. We got as far as "How I wonder what you are" before our time was up. Depending on his state of denial next week, we might get to add "Up above the world so high." (Yes, he really needs to get glasses.)
This was the evening for rote learning. I had a youngster earlier tonight. This little guy is an amazing reader. I have a poster of musical terms in my studio. He has read every word on it, many times. "Sforzando--that's a funny word!" He's got phonics down pat. Not so with note reading, however. I have him in a young beginners book, and we struggle every week. (Funny, he can identify the notes on flash cards, and he can name the notes on the keyboard, but he can't get from staff to keyboard. Gotta work on that.)
We turned the page to find Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Oh, good, a melody he knows! He named the notes, he knew which hand starts, he put his hands in position. "Where do I start?" Um... left hand thumb, middle C. After a few false starts, we closed the book. I told him to sing it while he played. After the opening C C C, do the notes go up or down? "Old Mac Don
ald." Sing it -- Up or down? Yes! He got it. We never quite got to E-I-E-I-O; perhaps next week.
A challenging evening, but always fun.