Putting Hands Together in a Group Context
Kylie S., Australia
I am a new teacher. I teach a small group of 5. Today we put Dreams hands together. I felt that I needed at least 2-3 minutes individual time with each student to help “control the events” on the piano as they put it together. And for the younger ones, I felt like I needed to do it with them more than once, though I only did it once because of time restraints and wrestle children in the background. How do you manage this in a group? Particularly if it’s a larger group? What process would you follow when bringing hands together in a group environment, for ANY song? What do you have the others do while you’re spending one on one time with each individual? I didn’t find anything on this specifically in any of our training materials.
Barbara M., New Jersey
I have a paper keyboard mounted on my wall. Students sitting on chairs with keypads (mounted on wood) in their laps. I verbally control the events as they follow along, glancing up to see me doing the same thing on my wall keypad.
“Your first event is pinky finger of the LH with third finger RH. Let’s just do that. Let me see you do that.” (I walk around and correct).
When you have that, continue through that RH Sentence 1, but stop just before you play the last note.” Parents checking to be sure they have it. etc.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I would recommend watching the Teaching Shared Lessons video.
Definitely make use of the practice pads in the lesson. And the coaches. They are the ones who need to be right on top of the students as you teach each step, especially with younger kids. Sometimes it takes them a while, and this is all brand new to them, so take your time.
With a new class, I usually take a bit more class time going through round robins, until I have a sense of how the students will do, and to make sure they understand what I’m saying. Also have the coaches be in the round robin sometimes. As we progress through Level 1 though, I will scale back the amount of time spent processing everything on the piano. For example, we may learn something on the practice pads, then have just a few students process on the piano (with the others watching). Then ask the others, “Do you understand what you are to do at home? We don’t all need to do it right now – that’s what your time at home is for.” If one of those students says “Can I play it?”, I usually just say “Sure! You can play it as many times as you want as soon as you get home. That’s where you’re really going to be learning it” or something like that.
You need to be convinced that the lesson is a coaching session, where you give your students what they need in order to go home and “get cooking” (using Neil’s chef/kitchen analogy). It’s not where the ‘real learning’ takes place. I’m not saying you’re NOT convinced; just pointing that out as an important concept when teaching groups.
An exception is arrangements, or other stream where they do not have support materials at home. I make sure everyone gets a turn on those, and if there’s time the coaches also (two brains are better than one).
Amy Y., New Mexico
First are they VERY comfortable with RH and LH separate? I found that if my students have not got those down well, they have a lot of problems putting BH together. Next, work on LH while singing/saying the melody/lyrics/instructions out loud until they are very comfortable doing that. Have them play duets together so they are comfortable hearing both parts while playing just one hand, round robin so they each have a turn on each hand. Let them try RH notes with LH rhythm only (just hitting their lap w/ LH) on their lap and the kids love doing this on the piano with their LH just randomly smashing the keys. Then BH as it should, controlling the event. It’s even easier than on the keypad because they don’t need to worry about getting their fingers onto the right key. Finally back on the keyboard with BH. Each group is going different but I try not to spend too much time with any one student at a time or I have the tendency of losing their attention after a while.