Saturday, August 1, 2015

T.E.A.M. - Collaborative Piano Fun

Our piano quest for virtues this month focuses on cooperation.  The lab setup of my studio makes the perfect setting for students to work together on duets as students come in pairs to lessons.  Fortunately most are sibling pairs who can extend their duet practice time at home to prepare for their upcoming group lesson duet performances.

I love this creative duet by a sibling pair.

I appreciate the synergy that group piano activities provide and love how teamwork can enhance learning.  I typically start each lesson with a fun game or activity.  Sometimes I have to adapt it to meet the varied levels of students.  For example,
when playing "Over the Edge" beginners can use rhythm value cards while a more experienced student uses interval cards to determine the # of stones. Or a more experienced student solidifies their knowledge of a concept as they "be the teacher" and remind the younger student how to identify sharp key signatures.  Duets provide an excellent opportunity to stretch students by requiring them to listen more closely to the tempo and volume of their playing and play with the distraction of another part playing simultaneously.

Even students who are just beginning piano can enjoy the rote duet pieces on piano safari.  One of my children's favorite duets is Piano Safari's version of "I love coffee I love tea." 
Since we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,  we don't encourage drinking coffee or tea in our home, so we've renamed it the "Half Step Song" with creative labels for the various parts that match the musical patterns.
1.Ping Pong (2 black keys are playing ping pong bouncing the ball on the white key in the middle)
2. Roll-ups (Roll-up High 2x, Roll-down Low 2x, Roll up high 2x, now we do the end you know)
3. Cliffhanger (Jumping off a cliff in slow motion... one half step at a time
4. Bug Slug (chant "Bug Slug" as you play the short, long rhythm patter)
5. Teeter Totter 7 (count to 7 as you play the teeter totter patterns)
6. Skate Crash (My son picked this name because the notes look like they collided and the duet part is fast and fun.)

Pattern Play Improv Duets allow more freedom of expression as students make up music as they go along with helpful guidance boundaries to make the song sound pleasing.  Even young beginners can have fun with a duet like World Piece or Blues on Black while a more advanced student plays the "teacher part."  Following is a sound sample of my favorite pattern play duet.
Africa Duet


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