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nine year olds in praise band?
#1643504 03/18/11 10:24 AM
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I haven't posted here for years! I've enjoyed lurking though.

I have a very competent nine-year-old student who has been asked to play lead sheets in a praise band at her church. (Everyone in the band is between nine and eleven, even the drummer - yikes!) She plays at an early-intermediate level, with repertoire such as Beethoven's Sonatina in G, easier pieces from Essential Keyboard Rep, etc. She can play all major scales in 2 octaves and harmonic minors in one octave. She can readily play any major or minor triad. Dominant 7th chords are doable after a little thought. She can invert triads but not quickly. I have just introduced augmented and diminished chords.

She went to her first rehearsal last week and brought the music to me. Naturally, I expected it to be a four-chord-wonder sort of piece and was surprised to see major and diminished sevenths, 9 and 13 chords, sus chords, etc. Even though most of it is fairly slow, she is having lots of trouble keeping up. They have a bass player, so she only needs to chord with the right hand. The band leader told her to just play block chords and to invert them as necessary.

Mom and Dad are willing to pay me to write out arrangements for her music, and I am doing that, but I would like to involve her. I would like advice on where to begin! I can play from lead sheets and I do teach them, but not at this level. I teach these concepts gradually over years, and I'm not sure how to condense them into weeks/months. Ideas?


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1643517 03/18/11 10:42 AM
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Nine years old is pretty young. I teach lead sheets and comping to my students around age 10, before they get to jr high, so that they're ready in jr high to be the keyboard player in their church worship band. Most jr high and high school youth groups have worship bands but I haven't heard of kids as young as 9 doing this. Wow.

I start out teaching comping by taking a simple familiar children's song (Mary Had a Little Lamb) and breaking it up so the LH is playing one bass note in each measure and RH playing solid chords in quarter notes. I have students sing the words while they're playing. We do this with several songs and then include worship songs.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking that maybe you could get in contact with the band leader and ask him/her to use more simple arrangements of the songs. Maybe that person doesn't realize that elementary age kids may not yet know diminished, augmented, and suspended chords.


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1643521 03/18/11 10:52 AM
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If they have a guitarist, let her just simplify the chord to a simple major or minor chord. Not much will be lost in the context.


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1643545 03/18/11 11:49 AM
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Don't spoon-feed her written=out parts. Show her the tricks of playing minimal parts to a chord sheet - like playing just one note (the name of the chord will do). Then two notes - you know the drill.

And don't worry. This is about getting kids involved in church activities, not about musical perfection. Though that will, hopefully, develop.

Re: nine year olds in praise band?
Exalted Wombat #1643561 03/18/11 12:20 PM
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+1 That's pretty much what I've done, even with much older students.


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1643737 03/18/11 06:32 PM
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I would also teach her to play just open 5ths, for the Sus chords, and skip the 6ths, 7ths, 13ths etc. for now. Guitarists do this all the time.


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1647293 03/24/11 03:14 PM
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i agree - teach her which additions she can "ignore" for now and slowly introduce them. my guess is most of the other instrumentalists aren't adding them either (or at least all the time).


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
pianolady14 #1647308 03/24/11 03:46 PM
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In addition to the other responses, I would also tell her to get recordings of these songs and use her ear, A LOT. She sounds like she's pretty good and you'd probably be surprised at how much she can pick up by ear. Combine that with your guidance with the lead sheets and she'll be pretty super with all this in a year.


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Re: nine year olds in praise band?
Minniemay #1647659 03/25/11 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Minniemay
If they have a guitarist, let her just simplify the chord to a simple major or minor chord. Not much will be lost in the context.


If there's a guitarist, and she's playing keyboard rather than steam piano, she can also explore the possibilities of other sounds - single note string lines for instance.

Hopefully the guitarist will also explore melodic playing as well as strumming. But all this is really a matter for the band director. PLEASE don't make his job harder by trying to double-guess or overrule what he wants!


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