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Wash Your Hands

The Coronavirus Song

Wash your hands,
Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
Don't touch your face.
Don't shake hands;
Give a wave or bump elbows.
We'll keep the virus out of our space!

Many children are familiar with the "Do-Re-Mi's," also known as the solfege syllables. Some may not know that they can learn to read and write music simply by using these syllables. Hyphens can be used to indicate longer notes, and an "x" to indicate a rest. Here's how it would work with "Wash Your Hands:" The Coronavirus Song:

Do - Mi - So - So So La La La La So - Mi -
x x Do - Re - Do - Mi - - - - - - -
Do - Mi - So - So So La La La La So - Mi -
Fa - Fa Fa Mi - Do - Re Do Ti - Do - - -

Children who are learning to play the piano might be able to play the song using this notation:

C - E - G - G G A A A A G - E -
x x C - D - C - E - - - - - - -
C - E - G - G G A A A A G - E -
F - F F E - C - D C B - C - - -

For those who don't know the names of the white keys on the piano or keyboard, or could use a reminder, here are some fun tips:

1. There are sets of two black keys and sets of three black keys all over the keyboard. Every group of two black keys is a "doghouse." In the doghouse lives a dog, and the word "dog" begins with the letter D. Therefore, the white key between the set of two black keys will always be called "D."

2. Parents or older brothers or sisters who want to help children learn these letter names should let the student do as much of the thinking as possible. Teachers from Socrates to Jesus to Shinichi Suzuki have used this principle of teaching. Ask the student what letter comes right after "D" in the alphabet. With a little thought, the student will probably answer, "E." Using the same procedure, the student will figure out that the white key after that is "F."

3. This brings up the next step in the process. Tell the student that each group of three black keys is a "fork," and that the fork has three tines. The white key just to the left of the set of three black keys, then, is "F," as in "Fork." Interestingly, this fact matches perfectly with the result of Step 2.

4. Using the procedure from Step 2, the student will be able to determine that the white key to the right of "F" is "G."

5. At this point, tell the student--if they don't already know--that in music we use only the first seven letters of the alphabet, and then we start over. Therefore the white key just to the right of "G" is "A," and it's followed by...you guessed it, "B."

6. Here comes another fun "coincidence." Each set of two black keys in a group is a pair of "chopsticks." The white key just to the left of the chopsticks is "C," as in "Chopsticks." Again, this matches perfectly with the process we left off in Step 5.

7. One more application of Step 2 will get us back to "D," and we can continue with the same sequence all the way to the right end of the piano or the keyboard. If the student is interested, the process can be reversed, and she or he can tell the name of the white key just to the *left* of any other white key. The student's natural curiosity will probably kick in, and he or she will want to play and name all of the white keys. I have only two rules: a. Play the piano like a spider, not like an elephant, and b. When a grownup or other teacher asks you to stop, stop.

My two favorite words used to be "Yes!" and "Fun!" A nine year old student taught me a new word: "Wow!" Then her two year old sister, who had wanted to join in on the fun and push the keys I would point to, taught us both another word: "Again!"

Years ago I was giving summer band lessons at a high school here in the La Crosse, Wisconsin area. A boy came in with his saxophone and apologized: "I brought my instrument, but I forgot my music." I asked him to sit down, put his sax together, and play a "concert C." Then I asked him to play another C, followed by D, B, C, D, and so on. After a while I asked him if he knew what he had just played. "I have no idea," he responded. I said, "Play C," and so on. After playing my series of notes about three times, and with a little extra help, the young man's eyes lit up as he realized he had been playing "My Country 'Tis of Thee," also known as "America." As he left the band room, he said to me, "I have never had so much fun playing music in my life!"

Stay "tuned" for more educational fun--and fun education!



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