After my last report, the students and I met for two more sessions to work on rhythmic activities. We worked on rhythmic flow in a steady pulse as the young students need to learn to settle down and not run away with the tempo, which many often do. Teachers do frequently find their young beginner students playing a song with irregular tempo, speeding up and/or slowing down.
The metronome can be used to help young students develop a better sense of steady pulse. First, the young student must be able to read the notes well, play the song without mistakes and at a much slower tempo if necessary. The next step is to play the song up to mark using the metronome to keep time. In the early stages, this has to be done regularly during lessons and during practice by the student at home. Likewise, the metronome is most ideal to use for finger exercises involving scales, arpeggios and broken chords.
While working on the rhythmic activities, I was also preparing the YMSD students for a year end assignment by encouraging them to create a simple improvisation on a song of their choice using all the improvisational ideas we have explored so far.
The following week after, only young Emily was able to attend class and she chose the song "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" as Christmas was approaching. Very appropriate! I asked what improvisational ideas she had for this song. She suggested a rhythmic idea using repeated notes and melodic alteration where possible. Of course, she is not yet capable of a complete improvisation of the song and can only apply improvisational ideas sporadically while keeping most of the song intact.
We discussed her ideas and I offered some suggestions where in the song would her ideas apply best. I asked her not to write down her ideas but to remember them, hoping that it would allow her to expand those ideas or develop new ideas as it swirls around in her head.
At this week's session, the 'missing' students showed up and Emily was ready with her presentation of the song that she has been working on for the entire past week. Below is a clip of Emily's simple improvisation as she performs the song.
The entire clip features three continuous sequences of the song. The first is an actual sample of the song as it appears in the Piano Lesson Made Easy Level 3 book. The second sequence features the use of repeated notes in Bar 3, 5, 7 and 8. The third sequence features melodic alteration in Bars 3 and 5, and repeated notes in Bars 7 and 8. Bar 1 contains an anacrusis, which is a pick up note to the song.
With this song, We Wish You A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!