Say It and Play It

Think of a basic folk song, hymn, or nursery rhyme. Chances are, it’s mostly made up of quarter notes. That’s because tunes for casual singers are designed to be simple.  However, playing such unadorned tunes can be potentially kind of boring to play on the piano especially on repeats.

Watch an edited livestream video on this same topic.


To rhythmically enhance a plain melody, try using the natural rhythms of language.  For example, what did you have for lunch?  Pep-per-on-i piz-za?  Play that rhythm instead. Can’t think of any words to say right now? Then, say and play that:  I don’t know what to play.

Here’s how this would play out on Twinkle.


Next, experiment with changing up those rhythms perhaps by playing them backwards.


Lastly, just wing it, using the pitches in the tune but varying the rhythms freely.

Here’s a plan:

  1. Play a basic tune in with right-hand melody and left-hand chords.

  2. Repeat the tune with a pre-determined “say it and play it” rhythm.

  3. Take even more rhythmic liberties the third time through.

Voila! You played an instant arrangement.

Until next time, enjoy your creative music making journey,