Issue 32: “New Note A”

Keyboards, Clarinets and Treble recorders all start with the notes C D E F and G. There comes a point when you want to venture one note higher, to “new note A”. The obvious choice is good old “Twinkle, twinkle, little star”, but there are a lot of reasons for looking elsewhere, not least because many children think consider “Twinkle  twinkle” to be far too babyish.

Over the years I have found distinct advantages in using the following tunes instead;

 This old man

Starts on G, which should be well known, and there is a useful one-beat rest to give time for the players to sort themselves out for  “new note A” . The rest of the tune moves mainly step-wise which makes for easy note-reading and note-finding. Keyboard players can play the tune in the DEFGA five-finger position until they get to the ”Nick Nack Paddy Whack” bit, when they move back to the  familiar  territory of CDEFG

 Tony Chestnut

This has the advantage of being an amusing game-song.  Like “This Old Man”, keyboard players can play most of the melody in the DEFGA five-finger position until the very last phrase. “New note A” follows straight on from G, which will give treble recorder players a fairly severe challenge. I approach this by teaching them to play A and then G, and repeating this process slowly and carefully. I’ll get them all ready with an A, (without actually playing), and then ask them to suddenly switch to the G, by saying  ”A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-……..G!  Well done, let’s get ready to do it again” and making a game of it. The “let’s get ready to do it again” bit is important; because after a few goes, you can point out that they have actually been practising G- A as well, every time they go back from G to A .

Have you ever had a penguin come to tea?

This is another game song. It is a popular campfire song and there are plenty of YouTube videos of children of all ages singing it. I have used it extensively with clarinet and treble recorder players, and also in primary school music classes with boomwhackers. For keyboard players, it is a good opportunity to practise scale fingering in either hand.

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly

This is an old-fashioned nursery rhyme which is a great way to introduce A for keyboard players as they have plenty of time to see it coming, and nothing difficult to cope with after it has arrived. It is also in waltz time which makes a pleasant change.

A final word; all these tunes could be used for teaching “new note top E” to descant recorder players as well.


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