How do you teach 6/8? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

Hello, everyone

A doubt arises at my spirit, today. I have this really great student who has been with me for 1 and 1/2 years (9 years old) and is playing some interesting material (Bach and Sonatinas). I wonder how to introduce the 6/8 and 3/8 notation without confusing her. Does anyone have any useful tips?

-- Nuno Maulide (, April 26, 2001


Use "blue jello" counting (words that exactly fit the rhythm):

Slow triplets: say "pineapple" (or any other 3-syllable word)

Fast triplets: say "celery" (I like this word because it's easy to pronounce at a fast speed)

Also, for fast 6/8 time, student should learn to feel a pulse of 2 beats per measure, not 6 beats per measure.

Best book for this: Faber Piano Adventures Level 3A Lessons Book

Hope this helps.

-- Music Educator (, April 26, 2001.

If she understands triplets well, write out short examples from her 3/8 and 6/8 repertoire in 2/4 meter using triplets, so she can see how the FEEL of 6/8 is the same as feeling triplets in 2/4. Francis Clark's book "Questions and Answers" has this idea on page 76. (This book is worth having!)

If triplets aren't part of her "rhythmic repertoire", try writing in 3/4 and emphasize one pulse to a measure first. The trick is to find ANYTHING she already understands, and build on that!

-- John Bisceglia (, April 26, 2001.

The Frances Clark "Questions & Answers" book is indeed a great book. You can order it from The Instrumentalist Company (that publishes Clavier and Piano Explorer magazines): 200 Northfield Road, Northfield, IL 60093, tel. 847-446-8550, fax 847.446.6263.

-- Music Educator (, April 26, 2001.

I always present compound meters AFTER triplets are understood and secure. I present triplets first by having kids stand and with 1 arm extended out to the side and swung (pendulum style) infront of body swing back & forth to the pulse of various rhymes that use triplet patterns (Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill, etc.). Then I have them clap the rhythm. I'll draw their attention to the parts with 3 sounds (claps) per beat and explain these as triplets ("3 sounds in 1 beat" opposed to 8ths with "2 sounds in 1 beat"). In my counting system we say "One ah la Two ah la, etc." for triplets. Then we'll play lots of pieces with triplets along with activities using rhythm pattern cards & triplets. From here, the transfer to 3/8, 6/8, 9/8 time is easy. I'll again choose a piece in compound meter that has words and approach it rhythmically first like the rhymes explained above. Then I'll point out the different time signature and how, since there are so many triplet patterns, we'll count the 8th note beats in each measure instead of the quarter notes. I'll also, if the student is savy enough mathmatically, lead them to discover how compound meters feel like simple meters just written with triplets. Of course, the dotted qt note must get some special attention too. Personally I don't care for the reverse approach (compound meter presented before triplets) that some methods use. This makes no logical sense to me. Good luck.

Gretchen in IL

-- Gretchen T. (, April 28, 2001.

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