The Old Beggars

By Mila Murray

oldbeggarsThis remarkable piece sets the stage for line-against-line imitation, putting it within easy reach for beginners. Old Beggars remains in a five‑finger D minor position throughout, and while one hand plays, the other holds. This piece is an excellent example of a creative approach to A ‑ B ‑ A form: through a continuous varying of the opening phrase, three sections and a coda are created.

Guide students to discover and explore some of the following: 

• Section A, m's 1‑15: Left hand leads. After initial left and right hand phrases, all succeeding phrases repeat with slight variations from one another. Right hand's second phrase combines elements from left hand's second (m. 9) and third (m. 15) phrases.

Section B, m's 16‑24: Right hand leads. Introduces new tones G‑E by inverting and condensing piece's opening fifth. Old material follows.

Section A, m's 25‑29: Very brief return (m. 25) of original theme.

Coda, m's 30‑39: Melody wanders through 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4 meters. Encourage students to imagine how the "feeling" that this continuously changing and winding melody creates, might relate to the composition's title.

Ask students to find examples of the various kinds of melodic patterns that make up Old Beggars. For instance:

• R.H. m's 4-8 repeat exactly L.H. m's 1-5;
• M. 14's G-F-G lower neighbor figure repeats m. 12's like E-D-E pattern on different notes, as a sort of "sequence;" 
• M. 18's R.H. E-F-G pattern is retrograded (played backwards) by m. 21's G-F-E left hand pattern (which also inverts m. 18), and so on.

Creativity: As with each piece in the Pace Recital Series, students will enjoy using the structures of these pieces as a departure point for creating their own new music. For example, with this piece, have students improvise imitating and answering melodies whose beginnings and endings overlap, as in Old Beggars: the last note of one hand's melody will hold, while the other hand begins its response, and so on.

Excerpted from TEACHING TIPS, by Cynthia Pace, Ed.D. © All Rights Reserved.


© 2009 by Lee Roberts Music Publications, Inc.