Twinkle Twinkle Little Star isn’t the most complicated song in the world. It has a simple melodic line that is easy to recognize, giving students plenty of confidence when they perform it. It can be sung, which makes it easy for students to remember and recall. The words parallel the pitches, adding another layer of memory for the students.
Today, while the Orff Ensemble was hard at work preparing for their upcoming May 3 concert with NSO violinist Marissa Regni (2:30 PM at the George Washington Masonic Memorial), the Keetman Ensemble was focusing on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. But instead of just playing it straight through in its regular duple (2-part) form, they were working on a variation that featured triplets, the musical term for three notes played in the space of one. The triplets add a bit of spice to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, giving the students an added challenge.
Students learned the variation and then had some time to practice. It was in that free space that one student tried to compose something new. While working on the triplet feel, he converted it back to a duple, playing it as four sixteenth notes. He excitedly called the instructor over, showing how that could work for the rest of the ensemble since he had “mastered” it.
Though it was not the part that the rest of the group was working on, this student was already onto the next variation before the instructor. That quickly became Variation 2, a duple version of the triplet variation that the rest of the class was focused on. That the student was able to experiment and bring that into class, an idea that was then shared with the rest of the group, is a product of the way in which Sympatico creates safe spaces for risk-taking. Now, Variation 2 will become a part of Keetman’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, with a risk-taking student proudly leading the way.