Frere Jacques

February 16, 2019

Multicultural Teaching Starts Early

When a child comes to me as either a transfer or new student, I place a lot of emphasis on rote playing, so the student becomes familiar with the geography of the keyboard.

I often teach rote melodies within the space of a major five finger pattern. Not only does the hand feel comfortable in this position, the child feels an immediate sense of accomplishment by being able to play something right away. Using either letter names and finger numbers, the student can easily play the piece. Another possibility is to play on two and three black keys, which creates the pentatonic scale. This is often what is found at the outset of modern piano methods. Through this rote play I introduce principals such as high-low, up-down, long-short and more. I gradually add in the symbols and explain what these mean. Melodies should also include those from other countries, in order to avoid being ethnocentric. Children need to hear music from other parts of the world.

One way to build interest in western music is to describe its performance in non western countries. I recommend going online and looking at!!! Not only is this a place to study folksongs from over the world, Mama Lisa collects and combines traveling folksongs. For example, there are over 100 versions of the original Frere Jacques composed by Rameau.

One example of a variant is the Japanese version "Goo Choki Pa" or "Rock, Paper, Scissors" game with words sung to the original melody. This melody can be transposed into other keys by simply placing the hand into a different five finger position. This link takes you to the Israeli version of the tune and gives us a look at Where is Thumbkin set to Frere Jacques:

The Frere Jacques ebook on is $3.95 and gives you 100 different versions and countless multicultural activities. These activities can be fun for very young beginners and require little work on your part.

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