Piano Teaching Halloween ImprovisationThis 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 SongAfter 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.