By Alyssa Thompson
Alyssa Thompson teaches clarinet and piano lessons in Saskatoon, and has also played with both the Saskatoon and the Regina symphonies. She has a degree of music performance from the University of Saskatchewan (clarinet) and has an ARCT in piano performance from the RCM. She enjoys teaching students of all ages, but especially loves working with beginners.
Q. What is one simple exercise you use to foster rhythm with a beginner student?
A. (Alyssa) One of my favourite exercises to try with students is to have them break down the longer notes in a passage into the subdivisions of the beat. For example, if they had a dotted quarter eighth note rhythm, I would have them play the dotted quarter note as three separate eighth notes. It’s a nice way to give them a sense of the underlying pulse and shows them how it fits into the rhythmic passage they’re working on.
(Adrianne) A fun activity that I do with my beginner students to teach note values and note types is to make notes and rests from sandpaper. I blindfold a child, then give them a sandpaper shape, such as an eighth note or a quarter rest. The child has to first identify the shape and then tell me how many beats the note or rest gets just by feel. Once all the notes and rests have been identified, then I take the blindfold off and the child creates 2 or 3 bars with the given notes and rests and claps it out.
By Adrianne Bank
ARCT, B Mus, B Ed
Adrianne has been teaching piano for over 40 years. She has had the privilege of studying with some very wonderful teachers: Dr. Lyell Gustin, Robin Harrison, Haruko Kataoka (Japan) and Dr. Lorne Watson.
She was a music specialist and consultant for several years with the Regina School Division, during which time she developed music curriculum and wrote two music textbooks for use in French immersion schools. She is an accompanist, adjudicator, workshop clinician and a specialist in the Suzuki Talent Education Method, teaching piano to children as young as 3 years of age. She currently has a busy studio of over 40 students. She has three children whom she homeschooled. Her oldest daughter is a professional violinist and orchestral conductor. Her youngest daughter is an opera singer and harpist.