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How do Piano Teachers Teach Duple vs Triple Meter?

I remembered a lesson where I exposed, for the first time, two students of about 9 years old to a short extract of music and ask them if it was in two or three beats. They did not know the answer to that. I then ask them to “feel the beat” and try to count along with the music. Does counting 1-2 fit the music or does 1-2-3 fit better?

That was my first time trying to teach students how to distinguish between duple and triple meter. I failed miserably. I look back to how my piano teacher taught that. To be fair, my first piano teacher did not have to do so as I started at grade 5 piano. Besides, I was in a marching band for years where I have to march along with the music. And come to think of it, all the marching tunes were in duple meter. Imagine trying to march to a triple meter!

For the upper grade aural tests, my piano teacher lent me the ABRSM aural workbooks and CDs two or three weeks before the exam and told me to go through them myself. I think I passed the aural component of my grade 8 although I cannot be sure.

How do other piano teachers teach duple vs triple meter? I have tried the counting approach once and it did not quite make sense to me. Feeling the beat should be a bodily matter. It is just like dancing to music. You have to feel the beat. How does one teach piano students how to feel the beat and move their body to the music?

I came back to Dalcroze which I thought was too complicated for me to teach without having through the specialised training. I came across Music Moves for Piano, a piano method which is based on Music Learning Theory (“MLT”). The method incorporates a bit of Dalcroze, or so I read. And then I came across Andy Mullen’s The Improving Musician website where he did some simple exercises with feeling the macrobeats. I know it should be common sense but walking, stepping from side to side, and moving one’s upper body to the beat of the music made perfect sense in how to teach the macrobeats of music. And follow that up with feeling the microbeats and voila! Students should be able to distinguish between a duple or triple meter music.

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