When one of my young piano students just finished learning the final piece from the W. Gillock’s Accent on Solo Book 1, he suddenly played ‘Mary had a little lamb’ with his right hand, as if he was saying, ‘Remember this song? I can play it so easily now.’ Then, I thought why not recycle this song to introduce the Alberti Bass, which is one of the most common left hand patterns appeared in many sonatinas and sonatas of standard classical repertoires. Here’s how we did:

1. Sing and play ‘Mary had a little lamb’ with the right hand while rotating the left wrist in the air as if you’re turning a screw driver. One syllable for each wrist turn:

Words & LH & RH RH pattern only

2. Do the same exercise as above, except the left hand now stays on the keyboard surface while rotating it (no need to worry about playing any note with the left hand just yet!).

3. Sing ‘Mary had a little lamb’ while playing C & G alternately with the left hand, maintaining the wrist rotation. Words & LH LH pattern only

4. Sing and play ‘Mary had a little lamb’ with the right hand while playing C & G alternately with the left hand, maintaining the wrist rotation. The player should focus on the right hand pattern (visually and aurally) while the teacher can help rotating the player’s left hand, so that the s/he gets used to the feeling of moving the hands in a different way. RH&LH

5. When playing the above exercise becomes comfortable, change C & G to F & G when singing ‘little lamb’ for the second time and also ‘fleece is white as’. End the song with C – G – C instead of C – G – C – G. This exercise will keep the player busy for a while! LH pattern only2

6. When ready, add an extra note (E) for the first left hand pattern (C & G). Try without the right hand first to learn this new pattern. Always practise with singing the song. Play E instead of C for the second time (C-G-E-G, C-G-E-G…)

LH pattern-alberti bass

7. Finally, if the player feels ready, add an extra note (B) for the second left hand pattern (F &G). Play B instead of F for the first time (B-G-F-G, B-G-F-G…)

LH pattern-alberti bass2

Good luck!

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