All musicians, not just pianists, must overcome the problem of ignoring rests. Here are some ideas.
If you allow rests to be ignored, the student will learn he can let his eye slide over rests because they are non-entities. Besides learning sloppy reading habits, the student does grave injustice to the music.
All right, then, how can you get students' attention on rests?
Reinforce this by having the student *do* something in the rest. Some like to say, "Rest" aloud. I like to have young students cluck their tongues.
I ask the student to lift his hand a good ways off the keyboard at the start of the rest. The "resting" hand thus learns that it begins its silence precisely *there* and nowhere else and that the hand must be actively lifted in order to produce the rest. This good habit is especially helpful when the student gets to sonatinas/sonatas and so on. Not to mention Bach.
For every group of four eighth-notes, instead of counting 1-2-3-4, count 1-2-up!-4. This verbal cue may be used in almost every measure of the piece. (Note: also point out the places where the RH must lift.)
This kind of counting, coupled with the orange mark and the habit of raising the finger/hand at the onset of the rest, almost always produces good habits and clean rests.
Suppose the song is in three-quarter time and the last note is a dotted half. When writing in the counting, write 1-2-3 in the measure and then write UP in the space to the right of the double barline.
Count out loud at the end of the piece, too. Don't just let the student approximate the final duration (unless there's a fermata there, of course, in which case he has some latitude in duration as long as he gives the note its full value first).
copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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