I haven’t taught Wider Opportunities Keyboards for a couple of years now. However, this year, I have got a year 3 (aged 7) class for keyboards which has given me a chance to re-think how I approach things.
I’m very keen to get started on note-reading as early as possible. All my pupils will have heard me sounding off against writing in note-letters under the notes, whatever instrument they are learning. I really believe that it is counter-productive. Usually we will only have covered about three notes by the end of the
year sorry, I meant TERM anyway, how hard is that to remember? Per-leeeese!
I have decided to start with note D, for Dog, living in the little dog-kennel made by the TWO BLACK NOTES, played with the RIGHT HAND POINTY FINGER. So, my preparation for this momentous step will consist of teaching crotchet and quaver rhythm notation, playing rhythms on any old note on the keyboard, then on D, and then showing them how to write the notes stuck to the underneath of the bottom line of the stave.
It looks, sounds, reads, as though it should be fool-proof. Ha! Fool-proof, maybe. Year-3-proof? Never.
This is all a couple of weeks away, so I have plenty of time to work up my patter. We will have to go through the different voices, and the different styles (“drum-beats”) on the keyboards first – there is no WAY I am going to be able to teach them anything requiring their full attention until we have got that out of their system. In the very first lesson, all further exploration of the voices on the keyboards ceased four nano-seconds after the first child found the “special effects” voice, and from then on the hall reverberated to the happy sound of children learning how to produce vomiting, grunting, cock-a-doodle-do-ing and other wonderful sounds from their keyboards. Playing anything melodious will have to wait a couple of weeks.