Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Intervals By Ear: Fun with Turtle Tom and Tim

I love how the ear training components of Let's Play Music lessons train students to hear more in the music they are listening to and understand what they are hearing.  With the better understanding of what's happening in music, students are ready to be expressive (and "musical") in their own composing and playing.  It thrills me to know these skills can be taught- anyone can learn to be musically talented!
What Interval Did You Hear?
A Few Types of Ear Training
Let's Play Music classes incorporate chords training: listening to multiple notes played as triads to make Red, Yellow, Blue chords that are major and minor. But there's more!

Pitch Training refers to hearing and identifying specific notes.  C is always C.  G is always G. When we teach students to sing "Do is Home" or "Middle C" with the pitch of Middle C, with no reference to other notes, they are refining their  absolute pitch.

Interval Training refers to identifying one note based on another note by hearing the distance (interval) between the two pitches.  When students sing or identify specific intervals, they are working on their relative pitch.  I've written about the many reasons learning intervals is so helpful to musicians!

Our second year students are learning so much about playing intervals with their turtle pals in the song Turtle Shells, I wanted to focus on helping them get more interval ear training with these guys.

Turtle Adventures: Interval Training
An easy trick for improving relative pitch is to have a list of your favorite interval reference songs.  Take the first 2 notes of a song you love, and use those notes as a reminder any time you want to sing that interval. 

Major 2nd: Sing the "Do-Re" of a major scale, or sing the first two "up, up" of The Red Balloon song.
Major 3rd: Sing "Do-Mi" of the Red chord, or sing "I Am" from the song How to Skip.
Major 4th: Sing Do-Fa (or Sol-Do), or sing "Boom Boom!" from the song Ain't it Great to Be Crazy or sing "Tallest Tree" from the song 5 Fat Turkeys.
Major 5th: Sing Do-Sol, or "Hop Hop" from the ostinato of the song Frog Went A-Hoppin, or sing "Twinkle Twinkle" Little Star.

Here are two more that we aren't using today, but our students are ready to learn:
Minor 2nd: Sing a major scale and focus on Ti-Do at the end. 
Minor 3rd: Sing Sol-Mi, or Hickety Pickety Bumblebee, a song made entirely of this interval.  In our Sound Beginnings class, we have 2 songs every semester focusing on this important interval, since it's the first one young children can learn and sing back on pitch!

To help my daughter practice and remember these intervals (and because she requested something to color), we made the Adventures of Turtle Tom and Turtle Tim coloring storybook!  The turtles in this story arrange their bodies in the drawings to make each interval, while playing along to the very song that helps us remember the interval.

Click Image to Download PDF

Assembling your little book:
1. Print the image on 8x11 paper.  Fold along the gray lines, to form 8 sections.
2. Open so the page is folded in half (short ends together) and cut along the dotted line.  Don't cut too far!
3. Fold the page so long ends are together (fresh cut is at the seam), then pinch the pages out so the seam separates.
4. Adjust the pages nicely so you have a cute little book!  Let your child color and practice singing intervals.

Two Ways to Use The Book
I like to read the story with my daughter, pausing on each page to sing the song.  Then I ask her to sing me just the specified notes (interval) several times.  Then we sing those notes using the solfeg names instead of lyrics several times before going to the next page.

On other days, she has her book in hand, and I play a 'mystery interval' at the piano, or sing it with my voice ("bum-bum").  She flips through her book trying to decide which of the songs I was beginning to sing or play, in other words, she identifies which interval I played.
Bigger Coloring Pages
If you are interested in having larger pictures to color on two full-sized sheets that are not formatted into a booklet, click HERE.  These would go well on your wall and you could enjoy the same games.

Wow, Interval Ear-Training Was Easy!
So now you have mastered a few intervals and are off to a great start!  There are a few more to learn (and be sure to recognize and sing them descending as well as ascending), and luckily there are some websites like this and this where you can add more songs and do some drills to get better.  Have fun!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Smarter Spending Through Music Lessons

Priceless Moments
The full moon shone brightly through the upstairs bedroom window and illuminated the faces of my two sleeping children. Their soft, cherub faces with parted lips and closed eyes looked so peaceful and innocent. I snuggled between them, feeling the warmth of their little bodies, smelling their sweetness, and hearing their soft breaths. I should probably go into my own bed now, I thought, but I stayed a few minutes longer, cherishing the feelings of motherly love that filled me to the brim. Moments like these are priceless.

There's no need to purchase anything to experience many of the joys in life. Yet we all need money to survive and for so many things on a daily basis. What does the scientific research say about money and happiness? How can Let's Play Music classes help you and your family increase your happiness?

Happy Money
Inspired by the book, "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending" by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, I will touch on the answers to these questions.

 "Happy Money" outlines 5 basic principles that relate to how we spend money and our happiness level:
  • Buy Experiences
  • Make it a treat
  • Buy time
  • Pay Now, Consume Later
  • Invest in Others
The wonderful Let's Play Music program allows you to utilize all these principles to increase your happiness. Here are some great quotes from the book along with some of my thoughts on how they relate to music class.
1. Buy Experiences:

"Think of purchases you've made with the goal of increasing your own happiness. Consider one purchase that was a material thing, a tangible object that you could keep, like a piece of jewelry of furniture, some clothing, or a gadget. Now think about a purchase you made that gave you a life experience -- perhaps a trip, a concert, or a special meal, If you're like most people, remembering the experience brings to mind friends and family, sights and smells. Which of these purchases made you happier? Faced with this question, some 57% of Americans reported that the experiential purchase made them happier than the material purchase, while only 34% reported the opposite."

Parents who spend money on Let's Play Music classes for their child are not only enriching their child's life with music, but also ensuring many unique and positive experiences. Children love coming to class because it's so fun.

Parents enjoy coming to class because it allows them to also experience the magic of Let's Play Music and create special bonding moments with their child. Parents pick up on ways to carry the experiences from class into their everyday lives.

"Research shows that experiences provide more happiness than material goods in part because experiences are more likely to make us feel connected to others. Experiential purchases not only provide us with entertaining anecdotes, but also add texture to our broader life stories."

2. Make It a Treat: 
"The more we're exposed to something, the more its impact diminishes."

So maybe it's a good thing we don't have music class every day! Several parents have told me about their child waking up every day and asking, "Is today music class?" I love their enthusiasm!

"In a study of working adults in Belgium, wealthier individuals reported a lower proclivity to savor life's little pleasures. They were less likely to say that they would pause to appreciate a beautiful waterfall on a hike or stay present in the moment during a romantic weekend getaway. This phenomenon helps explain why the relationship between income and happiness is weaker than many people expect. At the same time that money increases our happiness by giving us access to all kinds of wonderful things, knowing we have access to wonderful things undermines our happiness by reducing our tendency to appreciate life's small joys."

What a disturbing paradox! Here I thought having more money would make me happier. It turns out that's not true. We just need to appreciate all that we already have. Oprah Winfrey said, "The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have."

Research shows that just thinking about money can make you enjoy the pleasures of life less. So once your tuition is paid, forget about the money, and enjoy the special moments and fun times.

"Knowing that something won't last forever can make us appreciate it more. Recognizing that an end is near holds a key to happiness, helping us turn readily available comforts back into treats."

Sometimes it seems to take forever for our children to mature, but truly childhood is a fleeting experience. Children's minds only stay so malleable for a short while. Taking advantage of the music learning window makes such a difference in their lives. At the end of the three years of Let's Play Music (and possibly two years of Sound Beginnings before that), it will seem like the time has flown by!

3. Buy Time:

"What matters most for human well-being: social relationships. People experience the most positive moods of the day while spending time with family and friends. A recent study with a nationally representative sample of Americans revealed that playing with children produced more positive feelings than almost any other common daily activity."

How lucky I am to be able to spend time each week playing with and teaching children! I love that parents get to attend class with their children (twice-a-month during the 1st year, and once-a-month during the 2nd and 3rd years). I always make sure to include parents in the games and activities. I want them to experience as many positive feelings as their children!

Coming to music class and practicing the piano can mean less time in front of the television. "The average American spends the equivalent of two months per year watching television. In many countries, people spend almost as much time watching TV as they do working. If our choices reveal what we like best, TV must be pretty much the most super-terrific thing ever. And yet, study and study shows that people experience less pleasure while watching TV than while engaging in more active forms of leisure, including walking the dog. More than any other activity, television appears responsible for the failure of the U-index (a measure of happiness) to budge over the past four decades. Although people today spend less time doing unpleasant activities such as household chores, television has sucked up much of this newly available time while providing little emotional payoff. In a sample of over one hundred thousand people from thirty-two European counties, individuals who watched more than thirty minutes of television per day were less satisfied with their lives than people who watched TV for under half an hour. Watching the occasional TV show may be genuinely enjoyable, but devoting two months of the year to the tube is too much."

Let's trade TV time for music time! Coming to class, practicing, listening to the CDs, doing the games as a family are all ways to pack some happiness bang for your time and your buck.

"Time and money promote different mind-sets. We view our choices about how to spend time as being deeply connected to our sense of self. In contrast, choices about money often lead us to think in a relatively cold, rational manner. Focusing on time frees people to prioritize happiness and social relationships. For example, potential donors contribute more time and more money to charity when they're first asked about their willingness to donate time. By focusing less on money and more on time, it's easier to use both resources in happier ways."

Think about how spending money on Let's Play Music affects your time. Yes, it's something to add to your schedule, but what would you be doing with that time instead? Probably not something that will bring as much happiness or affect your life as profoundly as the wonders of a music education!

4. Pay Now, Consume Later:

Imagine you are going on a date with your spouse. You hire a babysitter, who gets paid by the hour. As the hours add up you are thinking about how much you will need to pay the babysitter and not really focusing on what you're doing. Then you need to take a taxi ride. Instead of enjoying the sights during the ride, you are thinking the whole time about how long this is taking and how much it will cost.

"Now imagine that you had prepaid for both the taxi and the babysitter the previous week. At the moment you paid, you will still experience the pain of paying. You have to suck it up at some point. But how might prepayment change your evening? When you pay for something, you experience the pain of paying. But how can prepaying for something change your experience?" If you already paid for it then you are free to enjoy the experience and not worry about the money.

"Paying now and consuming later can help us take the long view, turning us into better stewards of our own well-being." When I ask people to start registering for the next semester five months before it starts, I am helping them experience more pleasure later. It's already taken care of, so when they get their registration supplies, it feels free. Some parents pay for the entire semester at once. Not having to worry about it the rest of the semester may increase how much they can enjoy class and the whole Let's Play Music experience. It may seem like a big chunk of money, but once it's done, the peace of mind can be so worth it!

5. Invest in Others:

I will admit that I have been guilty of complaining how much my kids cost me. But did you know that the more we invest in others, the happier we are? "If you've been focusing on trying to make more money, remember that giving some of it away can be just as rewarding as getting more of it."

"The benefits of investing in others don't stop at just making you feel happier. Giving your money away can make you physically healthier, and even make you feel financially wealthier. In a study of more than a thousand older adults, individuals who provide money and other forms of support to both relatives and nonrelatives reported better overall health. This relationship held after taking into account income, mobility, and other variables."

Consider the money you spend on worthwhile activities for your children as money well-spent. Investing in your children benefits you as well as them. It's a win-win!

I hope you can see how buying the experience of music class, making class a treat, having fun with your children during class, paying for class in advance, and investing in your children can truly bring more joy and happiness into you and your family's lives! 

-Kristi Ison 
Let's Play Music Teacher

Monday, March 10, 2014

Identifying Minor Sounds is A Majorly Important Skill

Your first-year student has been carefully listening to songs, picking out when the tunes sound major or minor.  Hearing and identifying major and minor sounds prepares her to play both types of music on the keyboard next year, transpose between major and minor keys, and write her own composition that may include a minor key!  Her musicianship skills are blossoming!

I've Been to Harlem
This fun folk song gives students a chance to hear the same tune sung major, then minor.  Did you know your tone bells give you a chance to explore major and minor at home further?

As you'll remember from our posts on solfeg, DO could be on any note.  With your bells, you can only make a complete major scale if DO is on C, but don't let that stop you from experimenting with assigning other bells to be Do.

Since your student is learning how to skip, have her pull out the C bell, and take a skip, and another to create the Red chord in C Major: CEG or Do-Mi-Sol.  Play this chord and hear that it sounds Major.   Try again starting with the F bell, to create the Red chord in the key of F Major: FAC.  It also sounds Major, and is another Do-Mi-Sol; this time Do was F.

What if you start with D (DFA) or E (EGB)?  This creates a Red chord in the key of D minor and E minor.  Play it with your child and see if she can hear the difference.  The minor triad is Do-Me-Sol, pronounced Doh-MAY-Soh.

With each of those groupings of 3 notes, it was the MIDDLE note that determined that the chord was major or minor. Without the middle bell you can't assign major or minor.

Here's a video of a 4-year-old student creating a few triads, and playing the song "I've Been to Harlem" in C Major and E minor.  (You'll learn a lot more about triads in year 3).  I don't recommend using your feet to hold mallets, nor drinking pickle juice for real.

How did that sound?
Major scales sound brighter and cheerier than the sad (or sleepy or spooky or somber) minor scales.  Nothing beats experience and exposure for helping you learn to recognize the difference between major and minor.  If you want some more practice, here is a short little ear-training quiz with some major and minor chords.  Who got more answers correct, you or your child!?
The Cup Game
The song, "I've Been to Harlem" is also commonly used to play tricky cup rhythm games like this or this.  Part of the fun is having a complex rhythm different from the rhythm of the song lyrics.  I wanted to share the fun of a cup rhythm game with my young family, so we came up with a much simpler routine.

Before singing the song, help your child chant "Beetle, Butterfly, Clap-Pick, Pass" with a cup until she can remember the routine shown in the video below.  The rhythm is beetle-butterfly-beetle-bug.  Ask your child to keep thinking of that rhythm while you sing the song.  Eventually she'll be able to sing along and keep the rhythm going, too.

Here's a video of kids playing our simplified cup game.

These kids only practiced a few minutes before taping, so although this may be tricky for a 4 year old, all ages find it irresistible and will be singing "I've Been to Harlem" and requesting more chances to play the cup game!  They laugh when they make a mistake and feel exhilarated when it works out.

I hope you find some time to extend your fun with "Harlem" and get more exposure to major and minor sounds this month.

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

Monday, March 3, 2014

Recruit a Teacher: Get $100 Cash!

You love your teacher!  I'll bet you wish every kid were lucky enough to have a Let's Play Music teacher in the neighborhood.  Be a hero by referring the NEXT NEW LETS PLAY MUSIC TEACHER!

We Prize Your Referral!
When a new teacher is certified and identifies YOU as the referrer, you get FREE MATERIALS FOR 3 YEARS (a value of over $200) or opt for $100 CASH TO SPEND any way you like!  Start by sending prospective teachers to this link to learn more about LPM and prep for trainings happening this Spring.

Who are we looking for?
You've seen your teacher in action: she can be fun-loving and caring to a group of children, yet professional and organized, too.  She's musically trained, sings with a pleasant voice, and is confident in front of the group.  What a superhero!  If this sounds like someone you know, email them right away and make sure they know about the benefits of Let's Play Music.  If that sounds like a tall order, consider that your friends and neighbors may have hidden talents- you won't know about them unless you ask!

Find the next teacher:

Potential new teachers are lurking all about your neighborhood (a friendly type of lurking.)  You won't know for sure she's interested in running a business or teaching group classes unless you share the idea! Tell these folks about LPM and find out if it's just the experience they've been waiting for!

New Teacher's Tales:

Mary, in Fort Collins, CO, loved taking her young children to a music and movement class with the exuberant Emily Baldwin.  Meanwhile she was driving 25 minutes each way to take her older child to Let's Play Music.  Mary couldn't guess at Emily's aspirations, but she took a chance to say, "Have you heard about Let's Play Music?  It seems like something you might be interested in."  To Emily's joy, LPM was the perfect next step for her, and she quickly built a thriving LPM business!  Mary was delighted to finally have LPM close to her home, and Emily was thrilled that Mary had taken the chance to speak up!

Emily's business grew so well, she wished for another teacher in Fort Collins.  She discovered that one of her student's mom, Aimee Latzke, had a Master's degree in music!  Although Aimee had 3 little children and seemed like a busy mom who might not be interested in taking more on, Emily took a chance and said, "You seem like you'd be a fabulous teacher! At least check out how easy it would be to get classes going."  Aimee looked at the business plan and corporate support and realized it WOULD work perfectly for her young family, so she, too, quickly built up a thriving studio.

Over in Windsor, CO, Linda's excited friend showed all the moms at playgroup the online demo video for Let's Play Music.  Linda loved what she saw! She immediately signed her kids up with the only teacher in town.  She was so excited, herself, she told her kid's choir director, Robin Flores all about the wonderful skills taught in Let's Play Music.  "There's only one teacher in town, and her classes are full!  YOU seem like the type to teach Let's Play Music, and then your 3 kids could be in classes." Robin checked it out, signed up, and never looked back.

A bit West in the isolated Vernal, UT, Stephanie Hardin was chatting with her neighbors.  They had an adult daughter teaching Let's Play Music, and loving how it enriched their lives.  They knew Stephanie homeschooled her children, and clearly loved being with children.  "You might love teaching Let's Play Music to children- you should look into it. The children of this town could sure use it," they told her.  She did, and was thrilled to find how perfectly the program would bless her children, and the children of her town.  She is supremely grateful for the neighbor's kind words, without which Stephanie would never have heard of Let's Play Music!

Not far away, Carey Twitchell went to visit to her sister's family, and had an unexpected surprise.  "Aunt Carey!  Watch us perform a puppet show for you!" the nieces exclaimed.  Carey immediately saw the power and creativity of Let's Play Music, and pressed her sister for more. "I wish you had told me sooner what your kids were up to!  I need to get this program for my children, too! Right now!"  Carey fell in love with LPM and became a brilliant teacher in no time, to the delight of everyone at home in Harriman, UT.

Nearby in Salt Lake City, UT, a group of singers finished up a delightful gig.  Liz Murdock turned to another performer, Diana Glissmeyer"If you're looking for a way to use your music skills when we're not performing, check out Let's Play Music.  It's brilliant.  It would be a good addition to the voice lessons you teach."  Diana's extensive music training and BA in Music helped her critique the program and quickly discover the impact and power behind the teaching methods.  She attended training and started a thriving studio, always grateful that her pal, Liz, had taken a moment to suggest Let's Play Music.

See how easy it could be to spark the interest of the next great teacher?  Share your love of Let's Play Music, and we'll pay you $100 cash!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Alphabet Pieces Games

Second year students are ready to create their ALPHABET PIECES and use them in fun games for learning the white keys.

CUT the rectangle of alphabet letters out of your yellow songbook.  YES, cut your book!  Trim a piece of adhesive-back foam (like this kind) to match the size of your letters.  (If you happen to be making a bunch of these, you can fit 3 rectangles on a 8"x12" foam sheet.)  Affix the letters to the foam. 

Next, cut the strip of Cs, trim them apart, and have your child place each of them on a C on the piano.  Repeat with D, and each letter, then brush them off and store them in a cute box or container on your piano.  

Now you're ready for some fun!  *If you decide to skip the foam, that's okay, too.  In that case, to prevent papers from falling between the keys, always brush them off toward you.*

At the beginning of each practice, play an alphabet games for 2 minutes to get warmed up.  Here are a few games to change it up each day of the week.

Alphabet Race:
Have your child take one alphabet piece from the box and quickly set it on the correct white key.  Continue until the box is empty!  Time yourself and see if you can beat yesterday's time.  For students who struggle, have the student look at the picture (key-group diagram) in the back of the Yellow Songbook and form his own visual conclusion.

Take a Second:
Have your child choose two alphabet pieces and place them on the keyboard.  Identify what interval they make, and play the interval.  If it's anything other than a 2nd, play again!  The game ends when you take a second to make a 2nd

Pretend each alphabet foam piece is a tiny frog.  Have your child choose an alphabet frog, then hop it across the keyboard helping froggie find all keys of that letter. These frogs don't croak- each time the "frog" lands on one of her special lily pads, sing the letter (on pitch!). 

Place one letter on the keyboard as a starter snake.  Each player takes turns drawing a letter and checking to see if they can add it to the head or the tail with baby steps to make the snake longer.  If not, start a new snake somewhere else on the keyboard.  Anytime someone makes a snake with 8 or more segments, they get to remove it from the keyboard and keep the points (1 per segment)! Play until the pieces run out.  It's pretty cool if you are able to join 2 snakes by drawing the missing link between them, and win a really long snake!  You might enjoy non-piano Hiss, too.

Go Fish:
Each player starts with 3 alphabet tiles hidden in his hand.  Try to make matches by asking the other player: "Do you have a.." then PLAY the note on the piano to make your request.  If you end up with an empty hand, draw 3 more tiles.  Keep playing until the tiles are all gone, and see who got more matches.

Silly Songs:
Have your child draw out 5-10 alphabet notes and line them up along the music stand.  With her right hand in C position, play each note with the finger touching that key.  If the note is a B, slide the thumb down to yellow position to reach it;  if the note is an A, slide the hand into blue position to reach it.  This might be a wacky song, or it might be something cool.  If you like the tune, play it again!

Super Skippers:
Your child draws out an alphabet letter and places it on the keyboard as a 'starter'.  Next, she chooses another piece and checks to see if it can make a skip up or a skip down from the starter.  If not, discard it and player 2 gets a turn to play (player 2 should start her skipping chain on a different octave from player 1).  Keep taking turns until someone makes a chain, by adding skips at the top or bottom, that is 7 letters long and wins!

Parking Lot Cars:
Draw a letter from the lot and park your car on the white key "parking space" that matches.  Works great with cars like these from the learning shop. Keep going until you run out of cars (or whatever counters you have).

Cowboys and Indians:

Start one tiny plastic character (ANY tiny plastic figures you have will do: Pokemon, animals, cowboys, princesses, etc.) at one end of the keyboard on a white key, and another at the other end.  Draw a tile out and move the low guy up to that key. Draw another tile and move the high guy down to that key.  Keep going until they meet (and battle, or shake hands, or whatever you pretend!)
Have a Game Idea?
We hope you use your ALPHABET PIECES every day and get great at identifying the white keys.  Do you have another game idea using alphabet pieces?  Send it to us and we'll share it with our blog readers!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

*Thanks to Amy Brinton and Kendra Flake for game ideas.*

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Play "Cockles and Mussels"

In Dublin's Fair City
Our 3rd year students are learning to play the traditional Irish tune,  Cockles and Mussels.   My all-time favorite version is sung by Maxine Sullivan. (If you can get your hands on Maxine Sullivan sings 1955-56, it's my favorite Lindy Hop dancing album of all time! The piano riffs with Fats Waller are inspirational, too.) 

Cockles, And Mussels.  Alive, Alive-O!
In Dublin's fair city, where girls are so pretty,
That's where he first met her, sweet Molly Malone.
She wheeled a wheelbarrow, through streets wide and narrow.
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o.

She was a fishmonger, and sure it's no wonder.
For her father and mother were fishmongers too.
They wheeled a wheelbarrow, through streets wide and narrow.
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o.

He asked her to marry, she said 'twould be grand.
But to leave her dear Dublin, she'd not give her hand!
So they both wheel a barrow, through streets wide and narrow,
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o!

This is a story very old of a girl who was his all alone,
She was the one he would not forget and her name was sweet Molly, 
sweet Molly Malone... 

Maxine recorded Cockles and Mussels in 1937, but it was first published in 1884 as Molly Malone, and became the folksong of Dublin, Ireland.  Although we don't know if there really was a Molly Malone, there is a bronze statue of her and her wheelbarrow on Grafton Street!

Learning the Right Hand
The biggest challenge for the right hand is to recognize the dotted quarter note followed by an eighth note rhythm (Shoot-the-bug!).  In this video, I help a student correct her rhythm.

Near the end of the song, the word "crying" has eighth notes.  Many students miss this quicker rhythm.  Have your child play just that measure several times to master the rhythm of "crying".  Using our new counting, say "one, two, three-and" for that measure.

Learning the Left Hand
This song is a very important one to add to our repertoire, helping your child internalize how easy it is for ANY chord to be played in root position.   Do not try to put hands together until your child is confident with either hand alone.  In this video, I help a student learn the left hand by playing a duet with her (you could also sing while playing LH only.)

The last two measures are VERY tricky for the left hand.  Watch carefully to see if the correct notes are being played.  Help your child slowly discover which fingers to use (you can pencil in a reminder), and then practice playing JUST THOSE TWO MEASURES over and over until they are solid. Go slow and get the notes correct.  With practice, bring it up the speed of the rest of the song. In this video, I show how you might help a student learn the fingering for these two measures.

Focus on the Tricky Bits
By focusing on just the measure (or two) that is trickiest, you can help your child master the entire song.  Spend several minutes practicing just the hard bits, and ONLY THEN, go try the entire song from the beginning.  Soon your child will be able to cruise through the entire song without slowing down during the tricky spots.

For the Advanced Student
Perhaps one of every twenty students shows mastery of this song after one week.  Wowza!  To add some complexity while still practicing the root-position-chords,  I suggest that they play the LH with broken chords.  With the LH playing nice even quarter notes, the RH dotted rhythm will produce some lovely (and tricky) interplay.  Playing two hands with different rhythms is a challenging feat, so if your advanced student gives this a try, be sure to praise efforts!  I have had a few students master it.  Like I said, wowza!

Enjoy playing this song for all of your friends and family!
-Gina Weibel, MS
Let's Play Music Teacher