Introducing Eighth Notes to Beginning Piano Students
October 29, 2015 by Dan Severino
The following selection is an excerpt from Middle C Repertoire – Book 2 — Ladybugs. This piece is an excellent example of a composition tailor made for introducing piano students to eighth notes.
Many beginning students are challenged when eighth notes are introduced into their music compositions. I find this is because:
1) The notes contain SKIPS or a combination of SKIPS and STEPS
2) The notes change their beat arrangement. Sometimes the eighth note group begins on a weak beat and sometimes the eighth note group begins on a strong beat. In each case each eighth note group has a different rhythmic feel. An eighth note group beginning on a strong beat has a different feel than an eighth note group beginning on a weak beat.
On LADYBUGS every eighth note group is a set of REPEATED NOTES. This takes away all reading difficulties and coordination issues created by eighth note arrangements of steps and skips. The student can focus all their attention to the rhythmic feel of the eighth note rhythm
Also, every eighth note group begins on a strong beat; either BEAT 1 or BEAT 3; so, every group is going to have a slight accent on the “first note of the group”. Every eighth note group with have the same rhythmic feel. This constant identical feel will help the student learn the eighth note rhythm more easily.
I always group the two eighths notes with the following note. In this case the group would be eighth-eighth-quarter. I often call this little rhythmic unit a three note phrase as this is the way the ear most naturally organizes this rhythm. Often I will say three note phrase as the students play this little rhythm while playing Ladybugs.
Try this piece with your beginning students in their learning of eighth notes and I think you will see a quicker learning curve in this little musical hurdle.
To learn more about Middle C Repertoire Book 2 “click” on the graphic below to view a video of the contents of Middle C Repertoire Book 2 and some of the pedagogical thought behind it.
Middle C Repertoire – Book 2
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