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C D E F G
Getting into C position.
With your right hand in C position, which is sometimes also called first position, try to follow along with “Frere Jacques,” playing one note at a time. To make the song easy to grasp, I chose a tune that’s recognizable and has almost all quarter notes. It may be helpful to just listen to Track 23 a couple of times before you attempt to play along.
12 3 1
231 345 345
..Q j _. ... .. | . - . .. L.„
$ * i i * i 'iri -* -i 1 Are you sleep-mg, are you sleep-ing. Broth - er John, 5 4 3 1 5 4 3 1 5 1 I • • • — • • °- Broth - er John? 5 1 =i- '-4 ,—\
5 Bells are nng - ing, bells are nng ing Ding, ding, dong. Ding, ding, dong
Be sure to observe the numbers above the notes. These numbers are called fingerings because they tell you which finger to use for each note. Most players appreciate these fingerings because they represent the best possible finger pattern for executing the notes. Of course, being the wunderkind that you are, you may invent other custom fingerings. For now, though, I recommend you follow the fingerings I show you. Otherwise, I’ll see you after class.
Not too painful, right? Try another song that uses C position. In “Ode to Joy” (Track 24), the melody begins on RH 3, travels up to RH 5, then dips all the way down to RH 1. Beethoven, himself, was a pianist, so no doubt he knew just how well this melody would play under beginning fingers.
Ode to Joy
4 5 4 3 2 1 2 3
1 Ger - man lyr - ics are too hard if you don’t speak the lang - uage 3 45 4321 232 1
J IJT J
5 And old Lud - wig did - n’t give us a - ny words in Eng - lish 2 31 23431 23432 125
9 So, just con-cen - tr?te on the notes and don't both-er sing - ing on this song 3 45 4321 2321
J J J ^
13 But if you know Ger-man, then by all means have a "gu - ten tag!"
Chapter 7: Playing a Melody 85
Thumbing a ride to B
As you can probably imagine, not all songs use the same five notes. Eventually, you must come out of your safe little shell of five white keys, take a good stretch, and extend certain fingers up or down. A good finger to start with is your thumb.
An opposable thumb is what sets us apart from other animals. I know — some people argue that it’s the invention of language, or art, or the splitting of atoms. No, it’s the existence of an opposable thumb. Imagine buttoning a shirt, turning a page, or hitching a ride without one. I’d like to see a kangaroo try to do one of those things.
From C position, your thumb can extend down to B. As you play B with your thumb, you can simply leave your other fingers exactly where they are.
For “Skip to My Lou,” simply move your thumb to the left in measure 3 to play the Bs. Don’t forget you can also play along with the CD on Track 25.
Skip to My Lou
3 1 3 5 2 1 2 4
—i—i— “1 i —i 1— *—
^ J 1 1 Skip, skip, 3 1 3 I , 1 i skip to my Lou. 5 r— —1 -a—^—J «T] J * Skip, skip, skip to my Lou. 2 4 3 2 1 \ , ?]
—J—u —J J J *= J * • * J-
What do these ly - rics mean? Who the heck is Lou?
86 Part III: One Hand at a Time
Good stretch, pinky!
From C position, RH 5 (your pinky) can reach out and play A. In the campfire classic “Kum-bah-yah,” you anticipate the extension up to A by shifting fingers 2 through 5 to the right from the very start. Notice this shift in the fingerings above the notes. Instead of playing D with RH 2, you play E with RH 2 this time. You can hear “Kum-bah-yah” on Track 26.
Don’t take this word “stretch” too literally. I don’t want you to injure yourself. It’s quite all right to allow fingers 1 through 4 to move toward RH 5 as you reach up to play A.
1 2 4
li. ,=i 1 \ ;—-)—
J « -S J o 1 1 —O m —?
Its a camp-fire song you should know-
5 4 3 2
Start a 1 2
fire out- sideb-
and roast marsh - mal - lows.-
4 -Jp—,——— 5 |—| 1 4 3
Tq)—•—J e * ~ • —o J i a a
fnends be proucL 2 1
when you play-2 1
"Kum - bah -
yah" for them_
ev - 'ry day!-
Chapter 7: Playing a Melody 5 7
Stretching C position to the limits
In many songs that begin from C position, you must shift your fingers, or stretch both your pinky and your thumb, to hit the desired notes. “Chiapanecas” is one such song. Try to play this Latin American song as it was meant to be heard: hot and spicy. You may want to listen to Track 27 before trying it yourself.
Always, always remember to notice the time signature before you start playing. You don’t want to be thinking “1,2, 3, 4” if the song is in 3/4 time. And, by the way, “Chiapanecas” is in 3/4 time.
3 5 3 2 1
t J -I i- I j
Vtetch out! This one's in 3 / 4 me - ter'
1 3 5 3 1 2 5 4
That means you play three beats each mea - sure.
1 3 5 3 2 1 5 4
If you for 1 3
get and you
5 3 1
t i j
you might con - fuse your -
Part III: One Hand at a Time
To get into G position, move your hand up the keyboard so that RH 1 rests on the G occupied by RH 5 in C position. Figure 7-3 shows you this new position, as well as the staff notes you play in it. Notice that RH 5 now rests all the way up on D.