Saturday, May 2, 2020

Piano Teaching Tips for Beginners - Book of Mormon Stories

Book of Mormon Stories and Beyond with Beginning Piano Students

Playing Familiar Music is Fun

The upbeat rhythmic drumbeat of the bass in this song makes it a requested favorite for young children who often follow along with hand motions representing the words as they sing this song. This is typically a song that my students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints are eager to learn because they've grown up singing it often.
Early intermediate students can handle the traditional version of this song, but I also make this accessible to my younger students who are more likely to appreciate it by using these simpler versions. Following are a few ideas on how to introduce the simplified version highlighting various concepts in the song with success.
Traditional Music for Book of Mormon Stories

I Spy Intervals

For a student who is still new to the concept of skips on the staff, I like to hand over the pencil and have students spy all of the skips in this song and connect them with colored lines to make them extra salient.

Major vs Minor

Often too many beginning songs center around middle C and can encourage the faulty notion in beginning students that finger numbers correlate to specific keys on the piano (C is 1, D is 2, E is 3 etc.)  This song in the key of d minor shifts students away from the erroneous "C-centric" thinking and can also make a great introduction to recognizing the difference between  the major and minor pentascale patterns and most students love the steady drum beat sounds in the bass.

Buddy Bass Duet

For buddy lessons with beginners, having one student play the split hand melody in the treble clef and another student (or teacher) play the bass "drumming" part an octave lower than notated encourages better listening skills and allows them to enjoy the rich harmony of the song even if they aren't physically coordinated enough to play both parts together yet. 

Borrow with Rhythmic Improvisation

The rhythmic simplicity of this song provides a perfect palette for further exploration.  In addition to learning the song, students could use the structure as a springboard to improvise their own melody that mimics the rhythm of the song as they change up the order of the notes of the d minor scale.  For a little more challenge, students could use the Bass Harmony pattern as their backdrop instead and then just add a d minor pentascale melody with the right hand.