My 7-year-old student, Gini, grinned at me as Dolphins Play Everyday came to an end. Suddenly, a huge handful played a low bass guitar and shook his eyebrows. – Big wave? – I asked. “No,” she replied, “Shark.” What did we do next? I’ll get there in a minute.
So how have I ever mixed with dolphins and sharks? Dolphins Play Everyday is a piece from Jerald Simon’s new 130-page source. I continued to explode his lessons in 30 pieces, jazz, composing, improvisation, and more, as well as 20 Ways to Motivate Teenage Pianists. Jerald’s pieces were inspired by his disciples and many were even created as a result of a student challenge!
Back to the ocean and a certain 7 years old. After the shark attack, I grinned back at Gini and played a glissando from the middle of C to the top of the keyboard. His eyes widened. So I pulled out a heavy piece of collapsed cardboard that I keep on hand so little hands can delight to their hearts without injury. A shark dolphin chase with low and high glissands and lots of laughter.
This week I plan to present this piece by canon. There may be a different kind of shark dolphin chase. Gini will be the dolphin and I’ll start the piece. When you go to Action 5, the shark (this is me) will be low on record and chasing you. There are two D / E dissonances when you play this way, but they are not very severe, especially if they are separated by a few octaves. Probably some clusters and glissando will also happen. Finally, I hope to reverse our musical roles and get Gini dolphin to perform sharks.
Recording elemental pieces and playing them by canon is a great preparation for a baroque contrapunal tone. You will find that many pieces work beautifully when you start looking. Early learners don’t know it’s hard. They never cease to surprise me with the ability to move on, regardless of whether I play something else. Yes, there may be some train wrecks, but there is always a ball and you end up stuck on it. It also helps to play very quietly in the beginning so they can focus on them.
The ability to be creative and spontaneous is why I love the music of Jerald Simon. Students at all levels also love it. He started writing so that a group of teen students wouldn’t drop out of classes. Not only did he start playing the piano with these students, but he has since encouraged students in many studios across the country to enjoy their lessons. These pieces and resources are definitely not unique tasks.