Saturday, October 26, 2019

Simple Halloween Improvisation Game for Beginning Piano Students

Piano Teaching Halloween Improvisation

This simple Halloween Improvisation Game for Beginning Piano Students is just one of the sweet fun ways I like to start out piano lessons during fall lessons.

Lay a Foundation for the Left Hand Bass Pattern

  • Start with D'net Layton's "Trick or Treat Pumpkin Rhythm Card Game."   Students pick a card that has a rhythm (trick) for them to count and play on the piano or if they are lucky they pick a "treat" card and get to eat a small treat (m&m, smartie, candy corn, etc.). I use colored star stickers on the back of many of my multi-level game cards so I can easily find the cards appropriate for the level the student is at.
  • Gradually increase the difficulty of the keys you ask the student to play each time they pick a new card.  This cleverly couches multiple concepts into one simple game and also preps them for options they could use in the bass as them improvise. A few examples include:
    • Play the rhythm with just one finger on a Low A
    • What's a 5th higher than A?  Can you play the rhythm on an open 5th this time (A & E)
    • How about repeated notes, but then surprise me by playing one note on a G# to add some creepiness?
    • A minor chord?
    • Alternating between 2 different notes?
    • Quarter Notes on a Low A and Half notes on a High A?

Improvise a Melody

  • Next have the student choose one of the rhythms cards and variations they already played and play it repeatedly in the bass as the teacher (or student buddy) improvises a melody on the notes of the minor scale in the treble. Then switch roles.

Choose a Theme and Title for the Song

After these prep activities have created interesting melodies and motifs floating in the student's minds, I show them this Halloween Song Starters page to help spark some ideas for a song theme or title and set them free to create a melody during lab time that they can pair with one of the bass options we already experimented with in the game.  For students, just instructing them to make a melody using only notes from the a minor scale (a, b, c, d, and e) is too daunting.  Adding more parameters can give them more confidence.  For example:

  • Use a Quarter Quarter Half Note rhythm in every measure.
  • End your song on the same note you started on.
  • Repeat at least 2 measures in every line of your song.
  • Write a sentence, dictate the rhythm and then choose letter names
  • Have your left hand copy your right hand.

For more Halloween Themed Piano Lesson Activities Check out my Halloween Resource Roundup Post

Piano Teaching Halloween Resource Roundup Free Piano Games and Music

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