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Piano Lesson 15: Play and Hydrate!

By Gaili Schoen August 02, 2023 Hobbies

[NOTE: If you are just joining us for the first time, you can find my previous Sixty and Me Free Piano Lessons on my Author page. You can join our lessons any time!]

Hi friends and welcome back to your bi-weekly piano lessons for beginners on Sixty and Me! I hope you are managing to stay cool if you are living in searing heat right now. All year round, and especially in the summer, it is extremely important to stay hydrated.

I had a dear student fall backwards off the bench at our piano lesson, and it was terrifying for both of us. I was afraid that he was having a stroke, but it turned out that he was simply dehydrated. He had to be hospitalized for a couple days until he stabilized.

Several of my students have had to be hospitalized for dehydration; it’s a very common but serious health problem that is easy to prevent. You should be drinking liquids throughout the day, every day, every season.

The time you spend playing the piano is a great time to take sips of water or other drinks. I always keep a flask of water, herb tea or almond milk by my piano (never a glass ON my piano!), and I drink in between my songs, pieces and exercises.

Staying well-hydrated helps the brain to process information, and I find that it refreshes and revitalizes me when I drink during practice sessions (sorry, alcoholic drinks don’t count, as they are usually dehydrating!)

15.1 The Last of the Bass Note Reading Drill

These two weeks we are finishing the last three lines of the Bass Note Reading Drill on p. 49, playing Aiken Drum (version 2) with two hands on p. 52, and we are starting the Rhythm Review on p. 53 along with some exercises and review. Please watch my Hello and Hydrate video:

15.2 p.49 Lines 4-6

Last lesson we played the first three lines of the Bass Note Reading Drill on p. 49 forwards and backwards. Playing music backwards gives a great brain boost, and also helps you to focus on the notes.

Here I demonstrate lines 4-6 forwards. I count 4 beats before each line so that you can play with me. After playing along with me, play these lines backwards on your own:

15.3 Aiken Drum p.52

You have already played the Aiken Drum melody with your left hand on p.44. On p.52 you will be playing it again, this time adding a right hand accompaniment. Be sure to count the first few times you play Aiken Drum, remembering to keep that steady 1-2-3 beat. The song starts with a pick-up on beat 3:

15.4 Rhythm Review p. 53 Lines 1-3

Rhythm is one of the most difficult things to learn on any instrument at any age. But it’s the rhythm that makes the melody come alive! So we work on it a lot. The Rhythm Review on p. 53 will help to deepen your understanding of complicated rhythms. It’s important to practice counting rhythms, and it’s also helpful to come up with lyrics to fit the beats.

For example, I say, “Choc-‘late chip, choc-‘late chip; pea-nut but-ter choc-‘late chip” for line 1. For line 2, I might say, “Pump-kin pie, and, ap-ple pie; boy-sen-ber-ry is the best!” For line 3, I might say “Red, wa-ter-mel-on; straw-ber-ry short-cake.” (I like to sing about food!)

See if you can make up your own phrases to go with the beats in lines 2 and 3 after you practice counting and playing the rhythms. If you feel like it, send us your lyrics (silly or serious) in the comments section below!

Passion Practice!

  1. Set an intention to get to your piano every day this week for at least 5 minutes. Give yourself a fun reward if you do!
  2. Exercise #3 in F# (review) and D-flat (new). Play each exercise 3 times: 2x Forte (loudly) then 1x Piano (softly) with each hand. Use the PENTASCALES chart at the back of the book if you are not sure of the hand positions for F# and D-flat. Review Ex #3 in C, G, D, A, E and B when you can.
  3. Chord Calisthenics #2 – In Chord Calisthenics #2 (APPENDIX vii) you will play the last 6 triads: F#, D-flat, A-flat, E-flat, B-flat and F as block chords, meaning all 3 notes at once. Play them forwards and backwards getting familiar with the feel and position of each triad. Also review C, G, D, A, E, and B when you have time.
  4. With your left hand, play lines 4-6 on p.49 this week, forwards and backwards. You can play them with my video 15.2 (above) or just on your own.
  5. Play Aiken Drum with hands together on p.52. If you feel like a creative challenge, add your own lyrics to the left hand melody. Write them in below my lyrics. Watch my video 15.3 (above) to ensure that you are playing the rhythm correctly.
  6. Review p.34-35 or any other songs you enjoy playing in the book.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Sometimes we have every intention of practicing our piano/keyboard, but there are so many distractions along the way that we find ourselves at the end of our day without having gotten to the bench. Are distractions luring you away from your practice? What do you do to stay focused on accomplishing the things you want to get to every day? At the end of this week, leave a comment if you played piano for at least 5 minutes per day, and let us support your success!

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I’m still practicing with you, Gaili! Thank you for providing these regular lesson plans and videos to guide us!

Gaili / UpperHandsPiano

Thanks for letting me know TeriJo! It’s great to know that you are watching and learning! xo Gaili

Gail N.

If I am not at the keyboard, I practice , fingering, which really helps me, so when I get back to my keyboard, I have not missed a practice. Thanks for everything, I am still having fun learning to play the piano. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gaili / UpperHandsPiano

That’s excellent Gail – so much of learning to play a song is learning the fingering! I’m so glad you are enjoying the lessons 🥰

The Author

Gaili Schoen is a passionate piano teacher and learning science researcher. She has written a piano instruction series called Upper Hands Piano: A Method for Adults 50+ to Spark the Mind, Heart and Soul. Learn more at Follow her blog for free monthly sheet music and practice tips:

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