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Piano Lesson 4: Feel the Beat and Get Creative!

By Gaili Schoen March 01, 2023 Hobbies

I love the idea of learning something then expanding and building upon what we have learned. This lesson we are working on p.20 in Upper Hands Piano, BOOK 1. After learning the song, we’re going to add some elements to make it more fun and creative. I hope you enjoy Lesson 4!

Note: If you are joining us for the first time, below is a list of our previous LESSONS. Please subscribe to Sixty and Me’s newsletter to continue learning with us! Lessons are posted every other Thursday.

Introduction to the Piano Course

Lesson 1: Let Our Classes Begin

Lesson 2: Reading and Playing Our First 5 Notes

Lesson 3: 3 Health Issues That Might Affect Your Piano Playing

4.1 First Things FIRST

It is important that you remind yourself to play with curved fingers. Playing with flat fingers will impede your movement, so check your fingers often and raise them up to a gentle curve. When you approach a song or piece for the first time, before diving in, you want to take note of your clef/clefs. Treble/Right Hand, or Bass/Left Hand, or Both staves (Grand Staff). On p. 20 we use just your right hand on the Treble Staff.

Next you will look to see what your time signature is. On p.20 it is 4/4 so there will be 4 beats per measure, and a quarter note will get one count.

Then you will start playing the notes, making sure to hold them for the correct number of beats. On p.20 we will be using just Treble C, D, E, F, G, with quarter notes, half notes and whole notes.

4.2 Playing p.20 to a Beat

Once you get comfortable playing p.20 – you get the notes, the fingering and how long to hold each note, try playing with me! If you can’t stay with my beat, keep practicing the song and come back to this video often to try playing along

I know, Yoda said, “There is no try” in The Empire Strikes Back movie. But in piano lessons, trying is a good thing! Maybe you will get some of the notes on the beat, but not all. That’s great; we want you to train yourself to stay with a beat, but it will probably happen gradually.

The goal is always to be able to play a piece to a steady beat, like the ticking of a clock. Your beat can be very slow, as long as it is steady.

4.3 Adding a Left-Hand Note (Don’t Panic!)

One of the coolest things about playing the piano is that we use two hands to create a full sound with melody and accompaniment. Very few instruments can do that! I want to ease you into playing with 2 hands by having you play just one left hand G at the beginning of each line on p.20. It’s not written in the music, so watch my video demonstration! Don’t worry, you can do this!

In my video, I also suggest you go back to p.16 and add a left hand G to the first beat of each line on Ode to Joy. Doesn’t that sound great?

4.4 Let’s Write Lyrics (Don’t Get Intimidated!)

Let’s stick our toe in the waters of creativity with this activity! Besides learning how to read and play music, I want you to learn how to write your own music! We are adding lyrics to the melody on p.20 just for fun. This creative exercise is also an excellent brain workout.

It’s difficult to come up with words to fit the music, and difficulty is your brain’s best friend. Your lyrics don’t have to make sense (mine are mostly random foods) and they don’t have to rhyme. They just need to fit with the rhythm of the notes.

Passion Practice

  1. Review Exercise #1 in all 12 keys. If you haven’t already, try playing each exercise once with eyes open, then once with eyes closed. Remember you can use the Pentascales Chart at the back of the book to remind yourself of the 5 notes for each Pentascale. (Next lesson we will start playing Exercise #2!)
  2. Play p.20. First work out the notes on your own. Then see if you can play with me to a beat (4.2 video). Once you can play to my beat, try adding the left hand G (4.3 video) at the beginning of each line.
  3. Play p.16 Ode to Joy adding a left hand G at the beginning of each line for Ode to Joy.
  4. Write lyrics to the song on p.20! (4.4 video)

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Would you share some or all of your lyrics for p.20 in the Comments below? Don’t let me be the only one to share! We would LOVE to see what you have come up with serious or silly! How did it feel writing lyrics? Was it difficult, or were you able to find some phrases that worked with the rhythm? What did you title your song? Did you have fun with this activity, or did you feel too scared to try? Maybe after some of us share our lyrics, you will try again! Let us support your creative efforts!

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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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