Learning how to teach Arrangements
Found in: Arrangements & Variations
I’ve been trying to learn Dreams 1 (aka Family Dreams) so that I can teach it. I have had the dickens of a time trying to figure this out with just the audio. I realize that this is to force us to learn a way of learning/teaching. Let me tell you about the process that I have gone through to finally figure this out as I think I may be harming the process by doing it this way. If so, I could sure use some suggestions on how to go about learning the arrangements for the next go-’round.
I listened to the audio innumerable times. What chords to play in which hand seems clear enough. I had trouble figuring out when to play which LH chord with which RH chord as there seemed to be a discrepancy. I understood that there was a 1:2 ratio LH:RH but could not distinguish the LH sound from the RH sounds on the audio and apparently miscounted how many RH chords Neil played.
I believe that SMP does not want us looking at the written music, but Neil used measure numbers. To come up with that I had to look at the written music. Also, were the RH chords whole notes and the LH chords half notes, or were the RH notes whole notes and the LH notes half notes, thus each verbal phrase as taking two measures? I’m not sure I’m being clear on this. Anyway, I looked at the music to figure this out.
Then I ended up writing in my own short hand (I did not use notes written in the staff) which RH chords to play with which LH chords above each measure until I finally think I’ve got the piece worked out correctly. This wouldn’t work for those that don’t know how to read music at all. What process should I have used?
Fingering: in the second RH chord where we are play C, D, F, and A, was Neil referring to the simple act of moving the chord up, or was he saying to move the fingers up on the keyboard? Should I be using fingers 1, 2, 3, and 5 on C, D, F, and A, or fingers 1, 2, 4, and 5 on C, D, F, and A?
Leeanne I., Australia
I suggest that you purchase ‘Teaching Arrangements 1’ from the Teacher Workshop Series. This helped me enormously. It’s in the SM shop.
Following the written music is fine as a teacher. I pencil teaching notes on the page. But it is important that you learn it as a student would. Small increments and looking for ‘landmarks’ that will help you remember what to do.
Ian B., California
I agree with Leeanne. Gordon breaks down the Arrangements in a way that helps a lot. The important thing to remember about Dreams Arrangement 1 is that you (and your students) will not completely understand what to do unless you’ve first played and completely processed Honey Dew or another Accompaniment piece. The 1:2 ratio is exactly the same rhythm in Honey Dew as it is in Dreams Arrangement 1.
Stephen R., California
What may also help, and maybe this is presented in both trainings, but the LH does the E, F, E, F etc starting in verse 2. The “new” chord (CDFG) is on the word “True”. With this new chord I would use 1245, with 1235 on the other two.
Gordon Harvey, Australia
I’ll make one or two brief points. It sounds like you just need to make a clearer connection between the written music and the playing-based teaching. If you can read music, and especially if you’re relatively inexperienced with the playing- based approach, it might be hard to learn the arrangements without reading. So by all means refer to the sheet music as you’re learning the pieces, but most importantly, understand the way you will teach it to a student. Sometimes it might take some effort to clarify the playing-based clues, but they are there in Neil’s descriptions. Plenty of teaching experience will help reveal the process to you. In time, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. When you do, maybe you’ll become less dependent on the scores.
I would recommend the workshop program, because it goes deeper into the nuts and bolts of the actual teaching.