Friday, February 4, 2011


You'd think this would have occurred to me sooner, what with my history of playing and teaching jazz.  We had the greatest adventure yesterday and y'all need to try it - even if you aren't currently teaching your kid an instrument, this is a easy activity for everyone.

Doesn't she already look like a hep cat?
Yesterday, poor WonderGirl got a splinter in her fourth finger just before her piano lesson, and of course, it was the day we were going to start playing with the fourth finger.  She was pretty upset about the booboo and missing out on the lesson, so I tried to work around it.  We played her other three-finger songs and tried to go from there, but anytime she pressed a key with that fourth finger she yelped with pain.

Then inspiration hit.  We couldn't learn a new song, but we could learn a new skill!  I turned on a cool patch from the drum machine function of the piano and we did some improvising.  I picked C and played it in one octave, she in another - and I would play a rhythm for 4 beats, then she would repeat it (trading fours for those in the know) and then I expanded to 8 beat patterns.  She loved trying to get the rhythms, and the awesome drum beat behind her made her feel like a rock star.  Then, I told her to make up her own and I'd follow her.  And then our favorite - really trading fours, where we both took turns making up our own rhythms, just on that one note.  She got so into it, she even expanded to two notes and added the D in there.  We had a ball playing together and she left the piano liking it even more.

This could be done by anyone!  If you don't have an electric keyboard with built-in a built-in drum machine, one easy Google search  for "on-line drum machine" can get you a peppy background track, and then on whatever instrument you have - be it a the piano, a toy xylophone, kazoo, or even your own hands clapping - you can play a great game of call-and-response, although calling it improv makes it sound way cooler :)

1 comment:

Jane said...

I feel all smarter, just knowing what that's all called. I am amazed a four year old can DO that. I am not sure I could.

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