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I’m always looking for simple ways to prepare preschoolers to play songs on the piano.
The well-known song, Rain, Rain Go Away only has 3 notes in it and it can be played on the black keys of the piano, which makes it easy for a preschooler to learn.
However, it can be challenging for a preschooler to sit still and learn directly at the piano, so it’s helpful to find ways to explore musical concepts and skills away from the piano. Then, once a child has had adequate experience with a song or concepts, you can return to the piano and try it out.
Related: Movement and Music For Preschoolers
If you haven’t taken my free mini course, Teach Hot Cross Buns To Preschool Music Students, I would recommend checking it out first. It shows you how to break the song down into small steps that are manageable for preschoolers and many of the same steps from Hot Cross Buns can be used in Rain, Rain Go Away as well.
Sign up for the free mini course: Teach Hot Cross Buns To Preschool Music Students
This video shows the end goal. This is what you’ll want your preschoolers to eventually be able to play on the piano. But, it’s ok if you don’t arrive at this final product for a while. Kids can take as much time as they need – days, weeks, even months – working with the preparatory concepts. You’ll know when their ready to try their song out on the piano.
Here’s what you need to teach preschoolers how to play Rain, Rain Go Away:
- This printable. Click here to download it.
- A small xylophone, ideally with multicolored and removable keys. (This one has removable keys, although the colors are different than mine.)
- Colored sticky tabs to match your xylophone keys.
It’s ok if your xylophone doesn’t have the multicolored or removable keys. There are several ways to use what you have to make it work.
You’ll want to remove all of the keys except E, G and A on your xylophone. If your keys aren’t removable, cover up the keys that you won’t be using. You could cover the keys in masking tape or cut out strips of paper and tape them over the keys that won’t get used.
Removing the unneeded keys is important because it creates a limitation for young children, which helps set them up for success. You can see why offering all 88 piano keys to a young child and expecting them keep track of them to figure out a song could be overwhelming. Even having only 8 keys when all they need is 3 can be confusing. By removing or coving up the extra keys, we are limiting the material the child will work with to give them exactly what they need to play the song. Over time, you can begin to add the missing keys, and eventually an entire piano keyboard back in.
Related: Concept-Based Learning In Preschool Music Classes
If your keys are removable but not multicolored, you could use colored sticky tabs, stickers or highlighter tape to add color to your xylophone.
There’s a chance that the colors on your xylophone don’t match mine. If this is the case, you may have to recreate the printable or find a way to adapt your xylophone to match the colors on the printable.
Here are the steps to follow to teach your preschoolers how to play Rain, Rain, Go Away:
- Spend a lot of time singing the song. Let kids move freely and be creative as they sing. They can clap long with the words of the song, march or dance around as they sing, swing their arms, etc.
- Once the kids know the words and melody of the song well, show them how to point to the contour of the notes in the air. (If this doesn’t make sense, check out the Hot Cross Buns course mentioned above and it will demonstrate exactly what to do.) For Rain Rain Go Away, the notes mostly alternate back and forth between a high note and a lower note. Move your hand from high to low as you sing each note, as if you are touching the notes in the air. At the beginning of the word “another” there is one even higher note. Reach your hand even higher as you sing this note. You might even pause on that note so that the kids really notice that one different note.
- After your kids are comfortable singing, moving and pointing to the notes in the air, you can move to the printable. Touch the corresponding colors that match each syllable as you sing. Repeat this many times until your students feel comfortable touching the correct colors with each note. Once again, emphasize that one higher, yellow note.
- Once kids are confident touching the correct colors as they sing Rain, Rain Go Away, you can move to playing the song on the xylophone. You will see how limiting your students to the only 3 notes that they will use is really helpful in this step.
- Place colored sticky tabs that match the xylophone keys on the the piano keys used in this song (D-sharp, F-sharp and G-sharp). Have your students play Rain, Rain Go Away using these 3 keys.
Here’s what step 3 looks like, pointing to the colors on the printable:
And, here is step 4, how to play Rain, Rain Go Away on the xylophone:
And, finally, here is step 5, playing Rain, Rain Go Away on the black keys of the piano:
It is unlikely that you will go through all of these steps at once, unless you are working with an older preschooler. More likely, you can work these steps into a preschool music class or work through them one-by-one independently with a preschool-aged child. You’ll likely need to let time pass (days, weeks or months, depending on the age and ability of each child) before moving to the next step, especially in the last 3 steps.