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The Elephants Phone Number – Piano Fingering Issues

African Safari - piano fingering issues

Many of you know African Safari is not only a new and popular Reading and Rote piece in the ComposeCreate store, but it’s also a popular rote teaching piece in the Piano Safari piano method. As a matter of fact, its popularity in Piano Safari is why we made African Safari and 2 other “Reading and Rote” pieces available as a downloadable piece!

I love the blog post that one of the Piano Safari authors, Katherine Fisher has written about teaching this piece. You’ll need to read the entire article to hear all her ideas, but she highlights a wonderful way of helping students pay attention to piano fingering issues.

Her idea is to use these lyrics for the piece:

Piano fingering issues - help from African Safari

Now this is brilliant for several reasons because it associates the big heavy sound with a big heavy animal. And we know that any time you can associate an abstract concept (like volume) with something concrete, it’s always going to resonate better with kids.

The Elephant Teaches Piano Fingering

African Safari - piano fingering issuesBut the part that I love the most is when she asks,

What is the elephant’s phone number?

Do you know? Can you figure it out? It’s 441-4311 – the fingering of the eighth notes in m. 4!

Ta-da! She’s not only given the student a way to play the most complicated part of the piece easily, she’s also demonstrated the importance of piano fingering to the student!

Engage the Student with More Than Just Piano Fingering

Katherine also engages the student’s imagination by asking who the elephant is calling. You can read the entire post to learn the possibilities, but I kinda think the giraffe on the cover is most appropriate! Nonetheless, whoever the student chooses for the elephant to be calling is the right answer! Giving our students room to imagine stories and characters in African Safari and all their pieces is just one of the keys to motivating them to practice!

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By | 2017-07-03T08:04:29+00:00 July 3rd, 2017|Music for Teaching, Piano Teaching, Rote Teaching|4 Comments

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Wendy Stevens
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4 Comments

  1. Helen July 5, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    How fun! I’ll be going back to all my students who have been playing these songs (several since they heard them in the recital!) and adding this tidbit!

  2. Megan Hughes July 5, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Just the ticket for a young beginner who needs to move to longer rote songs. We did the first part today, up to the phone number and tried it with the left hand
    Low A. Hard! It kept things going for 20 minutes, then we played a game, tried it again, and then we were done. An utterly painless and productive lesson with a wiggly and vigorous little boy! It ought to keep things rolling for 3 or 4 lessons. Many thanks!

  3. Wendy Stevens
    Wendy Stevens July 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Sure thing, Megan! I’m glad it was helpful. Katherine and Julie have great ideas on their blog!

  4. Wendy Stevens
    Wendy Stevens July 6, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Super! I’m glad it’s useful! Thanks for using my music, Helen!

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