Silver Birch Tree – Piano Lesson 51 – Hoffman Academy



Hello and welcome back. I'm Joseph Hoffman. Today we're learning how to play one of my favorite folk songs, "Silver Birch Tree." I think it's a beautiful song and I hope you like it too. I'll play it for you. Silver birch alone in the meadow, standing all alone in the meadow. Soon the shepherd boy comes walking, With his sheep and goats, he's walking. Let's check out the sheet music for "Silver Birch Tree." You'll notice today we don't have a grand staff, we just have this treble staff with the chord symbols written up above. So you really have two options for piano music. You can have a treble staff and a base staff for the right-hand and left-hand, or you can just do the treble staff with the chord symbols written up above to tell your left hand what to play. This is called lead sheet style and it's commonly used in pop or jazz styles, and I want you to be familiar with both grand staff style and this lead sheet style, so that's what we're using today. So we've got our treble clef, we've got our key signature which tells us we're in D minor today, 4/4 time signature, four beats in every measure and can you tell me the letter name of the note we start on? Looks like it's a step above the G line so if you said it's an A, you're correct. We start on an A. Now can you point to each note and tell me if the notes are stepping skipping or repeating? Let's see if you can do it on your own. Say start for the first note and then the steps, skips, repeats. Go. So if you said start, repeat, repeat, repeat, step down, step down, repeat, step down, step down, you are correct. Now let's check out the rhythm. Let's say TA TA for the quarter notes and let's say TWO-O with two beats for the half notes. Speak the rhythm with me. Ready, go TA TA TA TA TWO-O TA TA TWO-O TWO-O. Great job. Now let's try playing it on the piano. Ok, let's cover up the D minor pentascale with our right hand. Can you play and name every note of the D minor pentascale starting with D? Let's say them one at a time. Go. Good. Now you'll see that the first note as we said is A, and I'll sing and play this one for you in solfège and then I'll give you turn to try. On this first phrase we have SO SO SO SO. Remember that in minor instead of MI we say ME. For MI we need an F-sharp but since we're in D minor we'll say ME. Now can you press pause and try playing that first phrase on your own while singing the solfège? Press play when you're ready to try it with me. Ok, let's try together and sing the solfège starting with finger five on A, which is SO in the D minor pentascale. Ready, go. SO SO SO SO FA ME ME RE DO Good, and now line two is the same notes, so let's try line two now and this time let's sing the lyrics, standing all alone in the meadow. Ready, go. Standing all alone in the meadow. Good, now this time let's try singing the letter names. We start on an A then step down to G, to F, to E, to D. Can you play, saying the letter names with me? Go. A A A A G F F E D. Great, now let's check out line three. All right, for these two lines you'll notice we have a note, no cord – both hands play melody. Again today we're just focusing on the right hand, but that will come into play later. Do you notice any rhythms on this line that we haven't seen so far in this song? That's right, here at the beginning we have this dotted half note which gets three beats. unlike the half note which gets two beats, or the quarter note which gets one beat. For this we have to think 1 2 3, or sometimes I say THREE-EE-EE TA TA TA TA TA TWO-OO TWO-OO. Make sure you hold this note for three beats. It's kind of a long note. Now can you point and tell me how these notes are moving? Tell me if they're stepping, skipping, or repeating. Say "start" for the first note. Go. The correct answer is start, step up, step up, repeat, step down, repeat, step down, step down. Great. Let's try playing that on the piano. So for line three we're still in the D minor pentascale, and this time since the first note is an E we need to start with finger two. So I have one, two, three, then step up to F, G, G, F, F, E, D. Now press pause and practice line three. Don't forget to hold that dotted half note for three beats before you go on. Press play once you practice that and you're ready to try it with me. Great, now let's try line three together. We're going to start with finger two on E. Remember to count three beats. Ready, go. One, two, three, F, G, G, F, F, E, D. Great, now let's check out line four. In music there's this danger. Sometimes the student will see, ah, this is starting off the same way as line three, so I'm just going to play the exact same as line three. But that could catch you off guard because sometimes in music there's just one note or one little detail that changes, so it is very important to check every single note, and that's true on this line. There is one note, just one, that changes. Can you find it and put your finger on it? If you're pointing right here, you're correct. This time instead of repeating on the G, it goes G, and then step up to A, and then skip down to F, repeat, step down step down. So let's say all the steps, skips, repeats for this line together. Go. Start, say it with me, start, step up, step up step up, skip down, repeat, step down, step down, now can you figure out the letter names for this line? Just try to say the letter names, try by yourself once. It starts on E. Now you try the rest. The correct answer is E F G A F F E D. Yeah. Let's try to play it on the piano. Back in the D minor pentascale, once again we're starting with finger two on E, let's count 1 2 3 on that first note, and then we'll sing the letter names after that. So I'll demonstrate once. We have two, three, F G A F F E D. Now press pause and practice line four on your own. Press play when you're ready to try it with me. Ok, let's try it together and count three beats on the first E with finger two. Ready, go, 1 2 3 F G A F F E D. Great, ok let's practice the whole song now, put it all together. Press pause and practice on your own. You can download the sheet music from our website for reference, and once you feel like you have the whole thing together, you can try playing along with me, or listen. Okay, I'm going to play all of "Silver Birch Tree." I'll be adding the chords, which we'll learn in a later lesson, but your job is to just play the right hand, or if you like just listen. Here it is from the beginning. I'll count four beats, and then we'll start. 1 2 3 4 Nice work learning to play the melody of "Silver Birch Tree." Please practice every day until confident. Remember to be careful of the rhythm, especially on the long dotted half notes. Hold them as long as they are due. Thanks for watching, and see you next time. Hello there, silver birch tree. I heard that you're standing all alone in the meadow so I thought I'd drop by and see if you needed anything. I just thought you might be, you know, feeling lonely, and I was thinking if you ever wanted some company you know you should talk to the one black key down at the bottom of mr. Hoffman's piano. He's kind of all alone too, and you know, I thought maybe the two of you could be friends. I'd love to be your friend too. I'm a chef you know and I could bake bread and share it with you, but you don't eat, of course, except sunlight and dirt. Well, I'm feeling super sleepy, it's such a warm day, and a nap under your shade sounds perfect. Thank you for your shade, silver birch. Zzzz zzzz zzzz.

17 thoughts on “Silver Birch Tree – Piano Lesson 51 – Hoffman Academy”

  1. I recall it is in minor Pentascales {https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeXoVU-FY_Y&index=22&list=PLOpWFi5W-47rlrSj8LLLfLZ_jaX6zfWta}

  2. Can u explain why you know this song written in D minor when playing these very first notes ? Are there any rule or just experience ?Thanks

  3. Hello

    I really like the part at the beggining and I listened to the notes mostly to play it. I’m wondering though, at the third verse, when singing “sheppard”, the right hand plays a G, a D and is it also the B flat there?

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