Away in a Manger
There are several tune settings for this well-known Christmas carol. Last year I posted the version that is the most popular version here in the United States. But there are other versions, including the one I am posting today. This version is also the one most often used in the UK, according to my friends from England. If you are from the Anglican tradition, this is probably the version you know.
I did some research on this tune. For some reason I thought maybe it was an old English tune, maybe even a folk song. I was surprised to discover the tune was actually composed by a member of the Methodist church here in the United States. How it became the tune used by the Church of England is probably an interesting story! Maybe it was chosen because it is really a lovely melody and very child friendly. Spanning just over one octave, it is easy to sing and play. The lilting melody has no dotted notes and fits the words perfectly. The harmony is charming and I hope to add a teacher duet one of these days.
I tried very hard not to put this in C position, but it really made no sense to force it into another key when the key of C works out so well for pre-reading this melody. I did have to add a hand crossing to play the A above middle C, but I don’t think that will be too much of a problem if your student started lessons a few months ago. I hope the diagram at the top will help with that.
For those of you who always ask, yes, I drew the pictures including the manger, the hand, and the keyboard in Photoshop. I engraved the score in Finale.
I have a traditional score that I’m using with some of my students that is exactly like this, except the notes are on the grand staff . If there is enough interest from the UK, I will also post it here.
La Notación Musical
There are many readers of this blog who are from Spanish and French speaking countries. I have previously posted German notation and that has been a big hit. I am not an expert on music notation, but I think today’s post will be helpful for our friends south of the border and across the ocean. Check out some of my posts on games using the music alphabet for ways to use this music notation. Also, let me know if I have not use the correct words! Please do not post these images on your own website. Instead, you may use a link back to here. Thanks!
Cecilly has a new game and she gave me permission to post it here. I have used the nerf basket ball in my studio before and the boys really love it! I like Cecilly’s twist on the game. She always comes up with such good ideas. Here is her version in her own words. I agree that flash cards are a lot more fun when you make a game out of them.
You’ll need a Nerf basketball hoop (or something to shoot the ball into),
ball, the piano bench or floor space, and the flashcards.
Mount the hoop on the door and position the bench at the spot where the
student will take their shots from (this is their free throw line so to speak).
Place the flash cards face up randomly on the bench. If you’re using numerous
cards, they can be placed in layers. The student stands at the bench and draws
cards one at a time, but only after answering 4 cards correctly can they take a
shot. Whether they make the shot or not, after they shoot, those answered cards
are set aside and 4 more are answered. Any cards answered incorrectly or
unanswered, can be retaught and then placed back into the mix of cards on the
bench. Allow the student to play as long as you wish, 4 cards at a time. Award
whatever you wish (points, bucks, treats, etc.) for each successful shot.
I played this with 4 different students and we got through about 25 cards or so in
just a minute or two. The kids liked it waaaaay better than my just flashing
the cards to them at the piano for them to answer.
Colorful Paper Keyboards
There are so many different things to do with a paper keyboard. There is something different about working away from the piano. Sometimes students freeze up at the piano and can’t even find middle C. I think it has something to do with performance anxiety, since the piano is usually used at the lesson to perform for the teacher. But away from the piano, our students are usually more relaxed. So a paper keyboard is a good tool to work on names of the keys.
There are other uses for a paper keyboard. You can use them at group lessons when you don’t have a real keyboard for students to use. Your students can “play” along with you or another student who is at the piano. Then students can take turns coming up and playing the same thing on your piano. They can practice 5-finger patterns, ostinati, simple duets, ensembles, and intervals, for example.
A paper keyboard can also be used to play games. I don’t have time today to list all the games I’ve played on a paper keyboard, but I hope to have time soon.
I have made some black and white keyboards in the past, but the one I am posting today have the black key groups in color. I got the idea from a pre-school student who had some trouble keeping up with the other children in a game. By using a color to help her identify her position, she relaxed and was able to do just fine.
I like to make enough keyboards to use at a group lesson. Be sure and set your printer to landscape format. Then laminate, cut on the lines, trim next the the second group of three, and tape the two parts together so that it will fold easily for storage in a pocket folder. I use wide, clear strapping tape because regular tape will split at the fold after a few uses. Place the first group of three on the left before you tape it, and your keyboard will have middle C in the middle!
I like to use a variety of seasonal grand staves in private and group lessons for dictation, learning note names, steps and skips, etc.
Recently my husband presented me with these stones he found. My husband is not a musician, but he loves all my games and is always trying to help me think of new ones. I was so excited to get these stones because I love the color and they feel so good in the hand. I promptly made this staff and called it Jewel Notes. The stones are flat on the bottom and sit very nicely on the paper.
I used it in various ways with my group lessons. With one group I played a short group of notes that were stepping, skipping, and repeating and the students took dictation using the stones. For older groups I made the dictation more difficult. With another group I had students come and play a short pattern and the students wrote it with their stones. My students shared my enthusiasm for the stones!
There are hundreds of ways to use a grand staff, because, after all, if you don’t understand the staff, you can’t read music. You can use this to find landmark notes, learn the name of notes, take music dictation, and even just to learn lines and spaces. It can be used with beginners to high school students. This is a great way to review for the ear-training portion of the Texas State Theory Test.
If you want to use this, print it in landscape and laminate it. If you don’t have any little glass stones, make some with construction paper or find something creative. I think it would be fun to have different colors of “jewels” and let the students choose.
On my website I have grand staves for various holidays as well as a plain black one. The idea is you can use seasonal items, such as candy, for your notes. This one doesn’t look much like October, but there is one on my website that is orange and you can use Candy Corn as the notes.