Tag Archives: Beginning Thanksgiving piano piece

Come Ye Thankful People Come – Elementary

Come Ye Thankful People Come

Come Ye Thankful People Come

Today I am posting another well-known Thanksgiving hymn. I put off arranging this for beginners because I was undecided about how to present the dotted quarter note and the best way to write the treble A.

I finally decided to teach the rhythm by rote and use what is called “near middle C position” which is a nice way to say it isn’t in middle C position.

In this case, the right hand is in D minor position. I use this frequently because moving the thumb just slightly gives you “A.” What a difference it is to have one more note! What would Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star be without the treble A? In singing it is a very important note!

If both thumbs are on middle C and there is a treble A in the music, what can you do? Cross the left hand over to play it? Move the pinkie over every time there is an A? Shift the hand? Yes, all of these work and I think the teacher has to decide what is best for her particular students.

But if the song has other challenges, such as the dotted quarter note in this hymn, I think it is easier to write the right hand in D position. If this is a new position, some extra finger numbers and circling the skipping fingers will give them confidence that they can do it.

This might be a good time to mention that it is fairly easy to teach the dotted rhythm by rote. Substitute the words in the first phrase with London Bridge is Falling Down and tap it on the piano cover. Use both hands at first, and then use the correct hands. Change from hands to the correct fingers and play the phrase in the air, then the piano. Because I really want your students to enjoy this Thanksgiving hymn! PS It would be great for you to add some chords while they play an octave higher!


Filed under Elementary Music, Thanksgiving

Now Thank We All Our God – Elementary

Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God is one of the great hymns and I have always planned to post a beginning arrangement. I put it off because there are many versions of the melody depending on which hymn book you’re looking at. So I had to make some editorial choices. I finally decided to write it like I learned it. Certainly you can change some of the notes because in no way do I say this is the correct version. It’s just one version among many.

Especially problematic for me were the fermatas and the layout of the upbeat. I finally decided to write the upbeats as they are usually written in hymnals, splitting the measures at the end of each line. I hope this can be a learning experience for our students and I don’t think it will be too hard to explain.

For beginning students, this is hymn is actually easier than some of the other traditional Thanksgiving hymns because of the simple rhythm and limited notes. Beginners may have problems with the two eighth notes, the fermatas, and the F sharp. Just use a lot of rote teaching in those places and that should solve the problems, because the notes are not that difficult. If your beginner can only play in middle C position, the right hand may be a little confusing, which is why I added some finger numbers in a few tricky spots. By moving one hand out of middle C position, many more tunes can be arranged for beginners, plus students don’t get stuck in C position for months.  For all my free Thanksgiving material, check out this link. 




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Filed under Sheet Music, Thanksgiving

Hurray, Thanksgiving Day on-the-staff

Hurray Thanksgiving Day

Hurrah Thanksgiving Day

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.

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Filed under Elementary Music, Thanksgiving