Twinkle tip

Posted by: Leigh

Twinkle tip - 04/26/12 05:41 PM

I've only just started teaching the MFPA, and have three 5-year-olds in Book A. I was leery of teaching this age, and didn't know how it'd go, but I must say, I'm having a blast! It's almost more like playing than teaching! Yet, it's rewarding to see the results - nice hand shape, good response to rhythms, etc. And when the student shouts "AGAIN!", I love it!

I'd like to offer a tip for Twinkle Twinkle. I couldn't figure out what would be a good way to mark the C and G on the keys, then it came to me. You know those removable sticky tabs that are about 1/2 inch wide and a couple inches long, and have point on one end? (Like "sign here" tabs) They are perfect! I put a red one on the C key and a green one on the G key, (matching the colors in the book) when teaching the song. Then I remove them and stick them in the book, pointing to the corresponding key on the page, so they can go home and stick them on their own piano.

Just thought I'd share my "aha moment".....
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Twinkle tip - 04/26/12 06:23 PM

I use those too! They're perfect because they stay on when you need them on, but come off so easily afterwards. smile

I'm glad you're having the chance to teach MFPA. It's so fun and so rewarding. smile
Posted by: James Weinberg

Re: Twinkle tip - 02/07/14 10:25 AM

I'm always puzzled when we arrive at Twinkle, Twinkle. It seems so out of place to jumping ahead too far. Does anyone else feel that way?
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Twinkle tip - 02/07/14 10:59 AM

James, I don't approach it as a "reading" piece (ie. following the stars on the page), but rather as a rote/ear piece. Of all the traditional songs that seem to have gone by the wayside, Twinkle remains the one piece that all of my students already know when the start lessons. I start prepping it at the very first lesson just by singing it together (maybe tapping a steady beat, or tapping on different parts of the body a la Nancy's teaching video... or just singing). Usually we start figuring it out on the piano at the 2nd lesson. With just 2 sticky notes for the C and G the student is able to easily visualize the leap, and the rest we figure out by ear/rote. Some kids whiz through it and some take several lessons to learn it bit by bit. For the ones who have more difficulty we sing "two times, two times, two times, once" so they remember how many times to play each key as we go along. At the next lesson they'll usually be comfortable with it and we switch to singing the lyrics.

I think the benefit of including it so early on in lessons is the excitement factor of playing a familiar, liked, piece. It gives the teacher an idea of the student's natural capability to play by ear, and is highly motivating for the student (they are always so proud to learn this one!). Regardless of method I like to include rote/ear learning right from the beginning for the reasons I just mentioned.

If a student struggles unduly with it, then we just take a break from it, work on ear training in other ways (games, singing, rhythm copying, etc), and come back to it later.
Posted by: John

Re: Twinkle tip - 02/07/14 09:34 PM

I've taught this piece since the method came out and have never used the stars - I also approach it as a rote piece as pianojazzgirl mentioned.

Sometimes I only teach the first page the first week, and once in a while I skip it until we get to Tigers at My Door (where I like to use solfege for both songs).

As far as the 5th in Twinkle, we first play it on resonator bells, and I ask "how many did I skip over" (three). The melodic 5th often needs much repetition, but it's worth taking the time to do so. I want to make sure students KNOW that interval in their ears before we try it on the piano (when they do they instantly self-correct 99% of the time if they make a mistake). Some children even use their other hand to silently touch those 3 skipped keys to help them remember as the other hand plays.
Posted by: Louise Mann

Re: Twinkle tip - 02/09/14 12:01 PM

I agree that having that piece there is a little confusing pedagogically, at least for me.

I do use the stars and I also use sticker stars with similar colors that we place on the piano keys. Sometimes I send sticker stars home with the child to use on their piano.
Posted by: pianojazzgirl

Re: Twinkle tip - 02/09/14 12:41 PM

I really think it makes more sense as a rote piece. I encourage those teachers who haven't tried teaching it like that yet to give it a try. smile The greatest thing about Twinkle is that they know it already. What a blast for a kid just starting lessons to already be able to play a familiar song!

Slightly off topic, but more and more I'm coming to see the value in teaching rote pieces along with the first MFPA/Primer pieces. The main benefits that I've seen are motivation (the excitement of playing "tricky" or familiar pieces), and technique and artistry (taking away all the complicated factors of deciphering notation frees up the ear while allowing us to focus on arm weight and hand shape). Learning to read music is quite difficult, and I think a LOT of time and energy needs to be spent on it, but peppering that process with some fun rote pieces is very valuable.