Piano Six-Hands and Eight-Hands
This is a follow-up post about a couple of group lessons we held two weeks ago. Between the winter weather and the cold/flu season, there were quite a few make-up lessons in queue. Rather than having individual lessons, I decided to hold group lessons. The students had a blast! We played “Go Play in the Snow!” and worked on our listening and rhythm skills by playing simple ensemble pieces.
The first group played a piano six-hands piece called Cancun Cha-Cha-Cha by Joyce Grill. There was a solid lower voice that kept a steady quarter note rhythm, and two upper voices that kept exchanging a “cha-cha-cha” rhythm (two eighths and a quarter note). The most difficult part about the piece was fitting together on the bench! All three students were laughing at how their fingers kept getting “tied up” together. We’re hoping to perform this little number at our spring recital.
The second group had four students in it, and the two piano eight-hands piece Folksongs for Four by Betty Wishart was a perfect fit! Unfortunately this piece is out of print, and it is only available through third-party sellers on Amazon. This piece requires one student who is more advanced than the other three. The more advanced student (or teacher) can take the lowest voice, which plays supporting chords, while the upper three voices play rounds with single note melodies of “Three Blind Mice,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” It was a bit tricky to get this one together – each student had to count very carefully!!
Overall, it was a great experience to work on these ensemble pieces. The students learned a lot about keeping a steady pulse, the challenges of listening to other parts, and keeping your “cool” when you make a small mistake. They each did a fantastic job! Hopefully this will inspire more ensemble playing in our studio in the future.