In the final week before Christmas, we were playing around with lead sheets and accompaniment styles. Jingle Bells is a great one to use because the kids all know it, and the right hand never goes out of a standard 5-finger pattern. Songs like that are rare.
When I planned this, I was worried it would be hard and frustrating for some of my kids, so I had planned a lot of Christmas jokes to use as interludes to break the tension. I needn’t have worried. They all enjoyed it, and I didn’t end up using any of the jokes at all.
What You Need:
- Jingle Bells, written as a lead sheet
- Accompaniment Style Cards 1
- Dice (optional)
- Christmas ornament (optional)
- For older kids, no setup required.
- For younger kids, you could lay the cards out on the floor and use dice and a Christmas ornament to select a card.
How to Play:
- The student starts by sight reading just the right hand of the melody.
- Beginners could do just the first line, or they could learn it by rote instead of reading.
- Introduce or review the concept of a lead sheet.
- Reinforce the concept by playing Jingle Bells with the Root Note Accompaniment. That card has a carrot on my cards.
- Depending on the student, they could either play both hands or just the left hand.
- Once they’ve got the idea, start drawing cards (or rolling dice) and play Jingle Bells as many times and in as many ways as you have time for.
- The notes on the bottom of each card are there as a reminder only. The student should play by understanding the pattern, not by reading.
- The accompaniment styles vary widely in difficulty. For each card, make a quick evaluation about whether this student should play right hand, left hand, or both. As the teacher, you play whichever hand the student is not using. Many of the styles can be made easier by using both hands to play it.
- At the end, spread out all the cards the student has used and ask their opinion on which style of Jingle Bells they liked best. They liked being able to give their own musical review.