London Bridge Is Falling Up

Dotted-Quarter-Eighth Rhythm. When I teach rhythms, I want the student to experience the rhythm before we discuss what it looks like, and long before we discuss why it looks like it does. For introducing the dotted-quarter-eighth rhythm for the first time, London Bridge is almost the perfect piece. It’s easy to play, most kids know it, and the rhythm is right there in the first measure. As I said, it’s almost the perfect piece. One thing has always bugged me — when I’m teaching a new concept I want other aspects of the piece (or excerpt or exercise) to be as unobtrusive as possible. So I wish London Bridge was in a five-finger position. I don’t want the student to have to worry about when and how to change hand positions to accommodate the melodic range of a sixth. But alas, to play the melody with one hand, the student has to make a position shift. (OK, true confession, there’s another thing about this tune that has always bugged me — while singing “falling down” the melody actually goes UP! So much for text painting.)

London Bridge Is Falling Up has the same rhythm throughout as its more famous counterpart, so it’s easy for even a very young student to immediately know how the rhythm sounds. It’s in a five-finger pattern. Plus the words and the direction of the melody agree. Problem solved! Well, not the problem of the poor London Bridge, which has now done everything but fall sideways.

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