Adult Walk at Eleven Challenges
Kristin I., Illinois
I have a student in her 70’s who is working on Walk at Eleven. We have been over all the clues many times (C to A to D to G, focusing on the notes a half step above or a half step below, etc.); despite working on this song for several weeks, she still comes back with errors, and I’m just wondering how important it is for me to push her on this. She can play C-A-D-G pattern, she just doesn’t get the half step up or half step down correct; she mixes them up, interchanging them, as we are supposed to do in the later sections of the song. I’m inclined to not belabor this point with her because I feel like now she is getting discouraged, as we have been on this song for quite a while now. I’d be curious to hear thoughts about this. She plays for her own enjoyment, loves Simply Music and has followed all my directions very well. She does VERY well on so many levels, but is just really struggling with this piece, and I don’t want to send her into a valley over this if I don’t need to.
Ian M., Indiana
I wonder if you’re using this terminology with her – in your post you’re saying “half step up” and half step down”. I don’t have any idea whether she’d improve if you move away from that language and back to the way Neil says it, which I think is easier: above and below … but it might be worth a try.
If you have her looking for target notes – the C, A, D, G pattern – if you say “now we’re going to slide in and play the note below the target note and then up a half step to the target note” it may allow her to visualize the pattern more easily.
But I agree with you, I don’t think I’d spend too much effort on this if it’s not working for her and she’s getting the idea of a half step to either side of the target note.
Leeanne I., Australia
I find I do this myself with Walk At Eleven. As I understand it, the song is supposed to be a teaching tool, not strictly adhered to. I even started adding my own rhythms, etc. Blues is supposed to be improvised, I would let it go and move on. You could even point out how great it is that she is naturally improvising!
Kerry V., Australia
I struggled with this song when i was learning it. I was only in my 40’s 😉
It wasn’t so much the playing but what was it all about. It did’t feel like a finished song, then i was told that in the end it was a tool, not necessarily needed to be remembered this way. I cant explain it but there seemed to be something ‘missing’ for me. I kept reminding myself that it takes as long as it takes and as long as i had the tool i didn’t cause too much stress for myself.
Brenda D., Colorado
Personally, I would move forward and avoid the discouragement, considering the student’s age.
Even if it doesn’t get played according to the specific instructions, she has learned some wonderful improv tools!
Scott J., Australia
I have a little list my students print out and put at their piano and I find that they normally have missed one of the points on their check list before they come in . 1. Videos 2. Voice . 3. Intervals 4. Counting . 5 how hands come together 6. And so on this is just an example for you.
Kerry V., Australia
Scott do you have them listen to audio as well?
Scott J., Australia
Kerry V. yes
Questions one needs to ask if a song is not quite right
- Did I practice seperate hands
- Did I use my voice
- Did I write out my counting
- Did I write out and tap out how my hands come together
- Did I write out my intervals
- Did play along with my audio
- Did I watch the videos
- Did I practice the song enough ex. 10 mins a day
Colleen R., Washington
Being a 70 yr old myself I would concur. Let it go!
I’m sure she’s absorbed some of the strategies if not all. As fun as Walk is to play Panther, Pathetique and Moonlight may bring her more joy and impetus to carry on!
Stephen R., California
Often “don’t like” means it’s hard! The piece is never meant to be played the same way twice. I really like playing around with anticipating the RH chords on different beats. Neil does quite a bit more with repeated notes and adding in blues scale riffs, etc when ready! So, I think jazzying it up is supposed to happen and I wouldn’t get hung up on above or below target notes too much. The different levels are merely a framework.
Robin Keehn, Washington
Let it go! She’s doing this for fun!
Original discussion started November 30, 2022