Pulse is What "Counts"
"Rhythm" comes from the Greek word for "measured flow".
- Keeping a steady pulse is the fundamental first step
- May be slow or fast, but it must be steady
- Should be experienced before it's associated with the quarter note
- Chant 1-1-1-1 or ta-ta-ta-ta or walk-walk-walk-walk
- Is a pattern of short and long sounds
- Rhythm patterns don't exist until you introduce the half note
- A rhythm pattern is a short group of notes
- Rhythm patterns should be felt as a group
- Organizes pulses in a recurring accented group
- Each meter implies certain accents and non-accents
- 4/4 and 3/4 are the meters taught at the Primer Level
- Is the speed at which the pulses occur
- Playing in many different tempos should be encouraged
- Tempos usually imply moods or feelings
Feel! Flow! Fun!
- Playing with and for the student develops a "feel" for rhythms.
- Encourage the student to express pulse and rhythm with large, as well as smaller, motions.
- The student should hear and play meters and rhythms without needing to "know about" them.
Teach rhythm patterns …
- Each rhythm pattern is a group of notes that should be seen and learned as a unit.
- Usual patterns such as these recur throughout the Primer Level books.
- Reading patterns as groups instills the feeling for the natural accents/non-accents characteristic of each group.
… but count note valuesAt this early level, encourage the student to count the note values aloud. For example, a quarter note is counted as "1" and a half note as "1-2" regardless of position in the measure.
This "unit counting" reinforces the meaning of the note values and does not overwhelm the student with the difficulties of counting the meter aloud while playing (e.g., 1-2-3-4 for every measure).
Yet we still teach meter by counting the time signature while the student plays, by asking the student to count the time signature while the teacher plays, and with written work in the Theory Book and on a white board.
Flow over the bar line
- The student should play at many tempos, including fast tempos.
- Playing in quick tempos teaches the student to read, think, and play over the bar line.
- A flow over the bar line improves musicality by conveying the expressive character of meter.
To promote fluent playing and the musicality of meter, eighth notes are not introduced until Level 2A of Piano Adventures.
Thus, you can encourage faster tempos as the student improves on a piece. Some pieces may even take the feel of cut time.