How To Get The Best Results With Higgledy Piggledy Jazz for Piano

Higgledy Piggledy Jazz Tunes

To make the tunes as accessible as possible for the beginners, I composed Higgledy Piggledy Jazz tunes in very simple keys of C Major or A minor, except for ‘Blues for Little People’ and ‘Polka Butterfly’, which are in D minor with one flat. Most of the tunes are based on the idea of the 12-bar blues or the blues scale, although ‘Take Three’ is a jazz waltz and ‘Peony Pink’ is a crossover into the style of popular music in the 1950s.The printed music itself includes several new elements, which have been introduced specifically to help children and beginners learn and understand the key basics of piano playing as quickly as possible, particularly when they are practising on their own. These elements are outlined below.

Twelve Bar Blues

If you bought an earlier edition of Higgledy Piggledy Jazz, notation in twelve bar blues tunes will be printed in colour. If the book is printed in the traditional black ink, you will have an opportunity to create an activity by highlighting the changes in the left hand in different colours. This will assist in learning the structure of the twelve bar blues itself. Pick three colours and go ahead – have some fun!

There are ten tunes in the book, five of which (all in C major) either contain colour coding of chords or you can ask your student to highlight them. Use black to show C Major chords, green for F Major chords and red for G Major chords. The tunes which have twelve bar blues chords are, ‘Super Duck’, ‘I Ate All the Choc’late’, ’You Tell Me Why I Wait for Christmas?’, ‘Nerdy Cat’s Twist’, and ‘Higgledy Piggledy Jazz’. 

Reasons For Using Colour (if you have old copy of the book)

1 Children find colour more appealing than continuous black.

2 Colour attracts the eye and makes it easier for children to keep track of where they are in a sea of black notation when they have glanced away from the music and need to find their place again.

Using specific colours for specific chords gives the colour itself instant meaning for the child which speeds their rate of learning.

And, as well as being useful as a navigation and learning aid, it has also been found that using colours is helpful for pupils who have some measure of dyslexia.

Letters Indicating Chords

The chord letter (C, F or G) is printed in the appropriate colour below the beginning of bars where the chord change occurs, as a confirmation to the child of the chord they’re playing. This is to emulate how chord changes are traditionally shown in jazz music scores and to subliminally begin to build up a child’s theoretical knowledge of chord harmony structure.

Step-By-Step Lesson Plan On Learning To Play ‘Super Duck’

Using the ‘Super Duck’ tune as an example, get your student to have a look at the first page of the music. If the notes are printed in colour, point that out and explain why that is, and what the colours mean. Make sure your pupil can find the appropriate chords on the piano. Mention that both the fingering and the timing are written in for them. If the score is printed in black, created an activity by highlighting three different chords in left-hand part with different pencils.

2 Suggest your student first plays only the bars with C major (black) chords in, with the left hand, and practises those for a while. Then they should do the same with the F major (green) chords and the G major (red) chords. Point out that as well as showing the chords in their special colours, the chord letter (in the appropriate chord colour) is also shown at the beginning of the bar with each chord change to remind them. 

3 Finally, they should try to play the whole tune, just with the left hand, linking together all the bars they have practised separately. Mention at this point that it’s important for them to try to be able to use their peripheral vision to look ahead to the next change in harmony so they are prepared for the next chord change. Explain how it is possible in this way to keep track of where they are the music when their eyes move down from the music to the keyboard to find the keys they need to play. 

4 Once they have mastered the tune at a reasonable speed (still only with the left hand), they get to the exciting bit where they can try it out with the CD. It’s best, first of all, to choose the slow version with the jazz band (track 11) and practise that. Point out to them that the drummer is keeping the beat for them. 

They can then start practising the right-hand notes by singing along to the CD and getting to learn the tune. (Most of the right-hand part is the same tune.) They can then graduate by trying to play it with the right hand. Point out that the square brackets above the notes in the treble clef outline each phrase so they can see exactly when to start singing (or playing). 

6 Once they feel confident with both hands separately, they can put the two together and try to play the piece in slow tempo with the jazz band (track 21), eventually graduating to the fast tempo jazz band (track 31), or taking it easy and going for the fast tempo jazz band with the piano (track 1).


Play-Along Tracks or CD

There are 40 tracks on the piano CD or play-along tracks in your digital download:
1 to 10 – are the 10 tunes in the book played through for you to listen to and choose from.
11 to 20 – are the tunes played in slow tempo with the jazz band (the solo part which the pupil will play can be heard as well)
21 to 30 – are the tunes again in slow tempo, but this time with only the jazz band so your pupil can play along with it and hear how the full effect will be (two bars of ‘clicks’ signal when to start playing)
31 to 40 – are the ultimate challenge, the same tunes in fast tempo with only the jazz band, for your pupil to play along with as in a final performance (again, two bars of ‘clicks’ signal when to start playing).