If you used the pre-reading version of this song last year, you might be interested in my new version. I updated the art, changed the words a little, and added a very easy teacher duet that a family member can play. I wanted a Thanksgiving song that was fun to play, yet was more about the meaning of Thanksgiving.
The following are some hints for new teachers or parents who may want to try it with a beginning student or a student with some reading problems.
Teach the song by singing it to the child while you and the child tap the beat on the piano cover. Use a key higher than F because this song is not written in a child’s vocal range. When the child can sing the song, he or she is ready to learn it on the piano.
Discuss the time signature and point out the upbeat (incomplete measure) before the first measure. Simply show that the last beat from the end of the song is added to the beginning. Students accept that, and usually think it’s rather clever. If they are curious, I *sadly* tell them it can only be done at the beginning. As the child learns the notes, you can work on playing the upbeat softer than the downbeat. This concept can be explained in more detail when the student reaches that part of their method book, so a simple explanation is fine.
Help the child discover that the right hand moves by steps. This is a good piece to get experience starting on a note other than middle C. They can have some fun by wiggling the thumb and pretending they are dropping it into some mashed potatoes. Parents, resist the temptation to write in all the notes or finger numbers.
They might feel more comfortable with the left hand because the thumb is on middle C. The LH notes are a little more difficult because there are some skips and leaps, so let the child find those places and circle them. Spot practice difficult spots with fingers in the air, and then on the piano cover. I wonder what food the LH thumb can drop into!
Some young beginners have trouble alternating from right to left hand. I’ve found that a different colored highlighter for each hand can make a big difference. Use a pointer to help students’ eyes track the notes.
While this might seem like a lot to do for a simple 8 measure piece, remember I’m giving instructions for a beginner or a student who has trouble reading new pieces, not for a more experienced student. Taking time in the beginning helps the student become a good reader later down the road.