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Never Thought Mary Had a Little Lamb Sounded Like This

Last week and a part of this week I attended Topmusic.com webinar that totally changed my ideas of playing basic songs. What I'm sharing is based Tim Topham, an amazing piano teacher in Australia who is filled with incredible inspirational ideas to encourage students to want to play piano and ways to help teachers succeed. Especially focusing on teaching without using books, which I do. Yet this webinar really opened an idea that sounds basic, while getting the students hooked on playing the piano more.


Tim had those attending the webinar play Mary Had a Little Lamb as usual, in the right hand, then the floodgates opened up for us as teachers. He said let's play a C and G chords in the left hand that fits in the melody. Of course it sounded better than just playing the melody. Then he took it a step further. What if we played an Am chord in the left hand with the first two measures and identify what chord might work well with the 3rd and 7th measures. He shared playing a G chord would be an option for those measures, just below the Am chord. The tune changed into something different. All of a sudden Mary Had a Sick Little Lamb or the Lamb was not doing well in life, filled with the minor chord.


Then Tim said let's play it in Cm and the Lamb sounded like a "scary" lamb, which my students ate up. With measures 3 and 7 students could play a Fm, G, Dm or D chords, perhaps other chord options could be available. I'll let you decide. After this idea was presented he asked if attendees might have an idea. A piano teacher showed us playing ascending chords starting on C, Dm, Em and F chords with each measure. On the last measures the piano ended on a F chord that allowed the music to not resolve. What a beautiful idea. So the past days I've been showing students and the are ignited by the ideas to the point that a lesson today wanted to play Jingle Bells in Am. What an amazing idea. They are learning how to arrange music in ways that they like. I've done this type of lesson, yet not to this extent. I hope that I've explained the idea well.


Enclosed is a jpeg from musicformusicteachers.com. What are some ways that you teach off the book that really get them "hooked"? Would like to know. You can use the music you have or teach this song by rote. Hope this ignites and excites your students to play more. Thanks for your support. Blessings.