For the month of March, I'm kickstarting each piano lesson with a one minute challenge for my students each week when they arrive at lessons and ending with some creative improvisations as they tour the world!
Scale Block Stacking - How many blocks can you stack in a tower in 1 minute?
Level 1: Music Alphabet Order - Stack notes ABCDEFGABCDEFG
Level 2-3: Skipping Music Alphabet - I encourage them to think of the memorable "FACE GBD(Jibbity) or GBD (Jibbity) FACE?" suggested by Nicola Cantan on the Colourful Keys blog. That's a lot faster than trying to sing the music alphabet and try to omit every other letter!
Level 4-5: Key Signature - Order of Sharps: Fat Cats Go Down And Eat Bananas
Level 6: Key Signature - Order of Flats: BEAD Grandma Cooks Fish
Stepping up the Scales
Level 1: Play a C pentascale and then arrange the whole/half step cards in order.
Tonic Whole Whole Half Whole
Tonic We Were Happy When
Level 2-3: Arrange the whole/half step cards in order and then play a major scale. T WWH W WWH
Tonic Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half
Tonic We Were Happy When We Were Home!
Level 4-5: Arrange the whole/half step cards in the minor scale pattern and then play a natural minor scale.
Tonic When Harry Went West He Wore White
Tonic Whole Half Whole Whole Half Whole Whole
Quizlet Matchup - Can you a match up the cards in a minute or less?
Piano Terms and Signs Level 2
Piano Terms and Signs Level 3
Piano Terms and Signs Level 4
Piano Terms and Signs Level 5
Piano Terms and Signs Level 6
Notes in the Fast Lane (aka Susan Paradis One Minute Club) - How many notes can you say and play in 1 minute?
World Tour: The student guided "World Tour" duet improvisations using Forrest Kinney's Create First and Pattern Play book help students unlock their creativity across the keys. Students get to choose from some vacation destinations and create a melody in the musical style of that country using a "scale recipe" while I accompany them with patterns and vacations in the bass. Would you like to visit Ireland? Scotland? Japan? Arabia? New Orleans? Spain? Persia? South America? Paris?
Check out Forrest Kinney's youtube channel playlists for Create First and Pattern Play to see some other samples of improvisation solos and duets in action. The Sunrise Solo or Sunrise Duet are a great starting point for beginners because of their slow tempo rhythmic freedom and focus on only black keys. Moonrise increases in difficulty a bit with alternating hands. Weather combines a variety of sound effects employing staccatos, glissandos and alternating hands, all of which allow for freedom of movement and varying touches across the whole keyboard.
Create First Duet - For the Joy and Create First Solo - For the Joy pick up the pace a bit but still just focus on the black keys. The vacation destination pieces vary in complexity and one of my favorites is Africa (in Pattern Play book 1)