Monday, October 19, 2015

Meet the Minor Scale Family

I've found that sometimes the minor scale patterns can be a bit overwhelming for students to remember.  I created this visual to help students see and hear the distinctions between the three types of minor scales. 
I always think of a natural minor scale as a bit sad or melancholy and was surprised to hear one of students announce that he loves playing songs in minor keys.
 The #'d 7th tone adds a creepy sounding appeal and of course makes the V7-i progressions sound so much more resolved, which is probably why the majority of minor pieces use the harmonic scale form.
I think of the melodic minor as kind of a "wanna be" major.  As the scale ascends, it starts with that distinctive minor flatted 3rd, but then the #6th and #7th tones almost trick you into thinking its a major scale.... until it returns to the natural minor form as it descends.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ted-ED - Intriguing Videos on Music Topics

Thanks to google and a recent homeschool science experiment on solutions, I rediscovered the fascinating world of Ted-ED videos once again as my girls were intrigued by a funny analogy comparing oil molecules to women with large ball gowns who just don't fit in well with the water square dancers, so they clump together in their own corner.   The benefits of music on the brain hopefully will provide them a little more incentive to practice and the "Brain on Improv" video inspires me to be sure to include more creative assignments studio.

The Ted-ED questions led us to explore a variety of subjects including some of these other music related ideas.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Halloween Themed Free Piano Resources

Piano Teaching Halloween Resource Roundup Free Piano Games and Music

It's a treat to pull the seasonal games and music and rediscover a few I've forgotten.  I organized this list of free Halloween themed music and activities posted by creative bloggers that I've enjoyed using in my studio the past several years and added a few of my own as well.


Susan Paradis Pre-Reading Pieces & Primer Staff Songs
Free printable songs have a small range of notes perfect for beginners or for sight reading practice.

FPS (Jennifer Foxx) Primer Halloween Pieces 
These simple early elementary pieces in a minor are great for reviewing note reading on the staff near Middle C.

Making Music Fun Toccata Theme 
My students love this simplified version of this familiar Bach piece that is often associated with Halloween even though more difficult rhythms require some rote teaching for some.

Julie Lind Halloween Piano Song Download
Some easy original pieces composed by Julie (Mummy Escape, Creepy Footsteps, etc.) and simplified versions of traditional spooky favorites (Toccata and Fugue, Snake Dance, Funeral March, etc.)

Late elementary level student composition in c minor

A late elementary Halloween Parody

Early intermediate student composition in D Major with dotted rhythms

Pianote Intermediate The Theme from Halloween Tutorial and Printable


HPN Trick or Treat Composing Activity
Free printable song for beginners using the C pentascale and candy bar rhythm patterns of the student's choice.

TPT Mummy Dance Composing Activity
Free printable song template for beginners to choose repeating "mummy dance" motif melody.

Teach Piano Today Halloween Improv
This simple teacher/student duet improv using notes from the c minor pentascale helps students reviews rhythm while expanding improvisation skills.

Beginning song lyrics with images to help spark inspiration for students Halloween compositions.

Elementary tutorial about how to use spooky intervals (minor, tritone) to create spooky music.

Intermediate/Advanced Tutorial for Hands Together Spooky Improv


In this listening game students hear excerpts of familiar pieces that have been changed from major to minor and compete to see who can name the most familiar "songs in disguise."
Layton Music Trick or Treat Rhythm Pumpkin Patterns
My daughter begs to play this rhythm activity all year long even though it is simply rhythm clapping practice paired with some treats.  One year I posted a pumpkin rhythm card to the front door that students had to knock before entering for their lesson.  I've also used this as a fun introduction to composition and improvisation.

Susan Paradis Bats & Cats Rhythm Game, Halloween Note Game
I love the Bats and Cats rhythm game that is easily adapted for beginner to intermediate levels while the Note Game reinforces note names on the staff for beginners.

Pianimation Halloween Activities
Jen Fink's fun group games, composition starters and quick games cover a variety of topics including rhythm, intervals, improvisation, major/minor and steps/skips.

Don't Eat the Poison Pumpkin Staff Notes
You can't go wrong with "Don't Eat Pete."  Kids love it at classroom Halloween parties, so I came up with this variation for piano lessons.

Teach Piano Today Trick or Treat Note Values
This primer level game is just one of many Wunderkeys holiday games for young beginners.

Witch's Brew Sing a New Song
I love the more challenging rhythm patterns in this game for students who need more of a challenge.

Colourful Keys Pumpkin Patch Match
This group bingo-style game helps students review note names on the staff.

Fun Piano Studio Games and Worksheets
Kristin Yost has a collection of games for both individual and group settings to review note stem placement, note names, rhythm and worksheets for theory concepts.  I save ink and paper by slipping them in sheet protectors so multiple students can do them with dry erase markers during lab time.


Halloween Listening Lab
I posted this a few years ago for my students to learn a little about musical form and the organ as they watch a YouTube video with Bach's Toccata and Fugue.

Classics for Kids - Halloween podcast
The classics for kids short podcasts are a great way to expose students to a variety of music as they learn about various composers.

Check out this Halloween Group Lesson post for more fun Halloween teaching fun!
Related Posts:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ponderizing with Music

To help my family better "ponderize"this scripture in 1 Timothy, I tried to pair the words to the tune of a familiar hymn.  The theme of our church President, Thomas S. Monson's message this week was "Be an Example and a Light." Music definitely expedites memorization, and I love how scriptures that are put to song come back into my mind during mundane activities like driving, washing dishes or folding laundry to uplift my thoughts and spirit.
Finding a matching meter that emphasized the important words was challenging but I chose the opening verse of "Did You Think to Pray."
So instead of singing...                                         We sing this...
Ere you left your room this morning                    Let no man despise thy youth, but
Did you think to pray?                                          Be thou an example of the believers (quickly)
In the name of Christ our Saviour                         In word, in conversation
Did you sue for loving favour?                             In charity in spirit
As a shield today.                                                  In faith, in purity
As a shield today.                                                  4:12        First Timothy
(lyrics by Mary A. Pepper Kidder)
I designed the pocket size image above so they can refer to their cards at school and "ponderize" throughout the day.,

Another fun piano resource that uses this similar method of adding lyrics to familiar tunes is "A Night at the Symphony" by Carol Matz.  If you take a peek inside on, you can read the clever lyrics paired with familiar classical pieces that introduce students to different elements of music history.  Some of the selections are appealing melodies that I first learned while playing in middle school orchestra including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Surprise Symphony, Spring and the theme from 1812 Overture.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Will Pay for Practice

This is one of the newest additions to my studio that I found at the local thrift store.  Students earn quarters at their lessons by coming prepared to  pass off 3 songs or keyboard skill levels .  It has been a great motivation for all but the one "jellybean hater" in my studio.  The biggest challenge is keeping the machine stocked!