Helping Students DISCOVER

Music is learned through a process of discovery. I think effective teaching facilitates that process. Today we are going to take a simple song, Trumpet Call, and look at it from four different perspectives. In each perspective we will discover something new about music; especially how music works and how it is put together.

Trumpet Call is a short 20 measure composition. It is playable after a student has only had a few lessons.

This version splits the melody between the hands. Since it is a melody with no accompaniment it is in one part.

If students are ready, we work on playing our melodies legato at those point where the melody changes hands.

Dynamics are given, only they are given in English. "L" is for loud. "s" is for soft.

One unique feature of The Discovery Piano System is that students look at the same composition from many different perspectives. By showing the same composition in different settings students learn that music can be malleable. This is of great importance if improvisation is part of your teaching program.

A MAJOR GOAL I have for my students is that I want them to read music with facility. It shouldn't be burdensome. To help student read more fluently I recast their compositions in different settings. One way this can be done is by having students read some of their first songs using leger lines. My studio teaching emphasizes directional reading. As much as possible I train students to read in steps and skips. We will examine our compositions to see if there are passages containing long stretches of steps or skips. Trumpet Call doesn't utilize many step passages but it does utilize repeated notes throughout the composition.

It's a little bit unusual to have students read leger lines at the beginning of their study but I feel it really helps the student focus and establish the habit of spotting steps and skips for directional reading. Here is the second casting of Trumpet Call written totally in the treble clef.

Fingering is given in this casting.

Since the student is already familiar with the melody the student can begin to train their ear.

Also, playing a melody with one hand instead of two gives the music a new mental framework.

Each recasting of Trumpet Call helps the student discover some new information about the composition.

The third recasting of Trumpet Call adds a bass line. This changes the composition to a two part composition; a melody and a bass line. Playing music in two parts prepares the student even at this early elementary level for the early intermediate literature. BUT the student doesn't have to read music in traditional two part notation. The bass line is best taught by rote. The steps make it easy to remember. The student begins to hear, without reading, how a bass line supports a melody. It is a very important to all young elementary students.

The bass line repeats the four note descending pattern D-C-Bb-A. This simple pattern is easy to learn.

A fingering is given to help the student play the final two measures easily.

It may be a good intermediate step to play the bass line yourself making the piece a little duet. Switch parts having the student play the bass line while you play the melody.

Once the student can play each part smoothly have the student is ready to play hands together.

The final recasting of the piece give Trumpet Call a chordal accompaniment. It also adds a doubling at the octave in one of the phrases. There is also a single note bass in a couple spots making for an arrangement of interest.

The only chord in this arrangement is D minor.

The unison passage occurs in measures 5-8. I think adding unison passages is a way of adding strength to a musical composition with a minimum of effort; just play the melody notes in the left hand.

The final 8 measures repeat the tonic and dominant tones of the D minor scale.

I think this is an excellent example of helping a beginning student see the importance of the tonic dominant relationship.

The Discovery Piano System does have students memorize the tonic and dominant notes of their basic five finger patterns and the musical examples utilizes this relationship so the information is not purely academic but put into practice with practical examples. I think these four settings of Trumpet Call demonstrates how one can bring to young elementary students the discovery of music to their fingers in creative ways that can lay the groundwork for the classical repertoire from very early on in their music study.

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