Someones In The Kitchen With Dinah

Elementary Music Store

Here is another pre-reading solo. This is actually from a collection of folk songs that I wrote “on-the staff”  and made into a book for my younger students who had learned to read music at the primer level. My daughter illustrated the book  for me. I decided to turn this song from the book  into a pre-reading solo and share with you.

Be careful if you use this with beginning students. There are some skips that need to be addressed, as well as the tie. If your young child has never played skips before, do a lot of pretend play in the air and on the piano cover before attempting to play. It will make a big difference. I’ve found that children who play a lot of pre-reading pieces with skips do a lot better when they come upon them in their music.

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3 thoughts to “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah

  • Emily

    Thanks for all the pre-reading material Susan!
    All of my students enjoy your pieces, and I enthusiastically agree with you that pre-reading is so beneficial for beginners. One thing I’d like to add to your list of benefits is learning to recognize musical patterns (both rhythmic and melodic). If pre-reading pieces are taught holistically, students transition to reading on the staff with ease. For example, if I were to introduce this piece to one of my young students the first thing we would do is look for patterns and draw a big box around the first two measures of lines 1, 2, and 3, noticing they are exactly the same. We would also notice the rhythms for measures 3-4 and 11-12 are the same, and that the 4th line also starts with 4 repeated notes, even though it is not the same note as the first measure of the other 3 lines. This teaches students to look at the music as a whole piece, reading directionally and by patterns, which then translates to much more fluid reading on the staff as well, reading by phrases instead of note-to-note. Definitely time well spent!

  • Alastair

    One problem I have found with using material like this is that you are essentially reading via numbers which has no real relationb to reading from the stave once you have moved your hands from a set position. so although it works well initially actually you then have to start all over again later on.

    • susanparadis

      Absolutely not! It could be that you are looking at the glass half empty. I would like to suggest that pre-reading is the first step in musical literacy.

      Pre-reading teaching many skills that are carried over to note reading. If used correctly, pre-reading teaches the following:

      Hand position
      How to drop into the keys
      Steps and Skips
      How to repeat a note
      Finger numbers and how to use them
      Name of the piano keys
      High and Low, Loud and Soft
      Flexible wrist moving all over the keyboard
      Ear training
      Did I say hand position?

      When note reading is introduced to the student, which might be after a few weeks or much longer if the student is quite young, all of the above is part of the student’s knowledge base. The fingers know how to move on the piano, so note reading is accomplished easier and more musically. In the meantime, the student has enjoyed piano and has very good feelings about piano lessons. Plus the student is on his way to associating skipping fingers to the sound of a third, which I think is an extremely crucial skill in learning how to improvise.

      Of course, pre-reading has to be taught correctly and the teacher must be held accountable for teaching all the above skills. If pre-reading is done correctly, rather than staring all over, note reading is just another step that the teacher builds on. I do think it is important, however, for the teacher to know when it is time to move on to reading on a staff and not dwell on pre-reading longer than necessary.


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