Identifying Sharp Key Signatures on the Staff
Most music students have probably seen this simple strategy for identifying sharp key signatures.
Composing at the piano can seem like a daunting task for beginners, but with small and simple guided steps, it can be a success for even young beginners. For November piano lessons, students in my studio are creating an "I am Thankful" Composition using the step by step approach below.
Festival Samples Later Elementary/Early Intermediate (Piano Adventures 3A, Green Hal Leonard Book 4, NFMC P3)
Teaching composition and improvisation can be a tricky task for teachers who have the typical classical piano training background. But with Variation Cards, you can easily guide students along in the process of creativity by having them "borrow" elements from their pieces and change them up to create new compositions with a similar style but added flair.
Here's a sample of a quick variation I created using the theme from Hot Cross Buns. The Haunted House, Beetle Bug, Backwards and Scrambled Eggs variation cards that I use definitely add more interest, and starting with something familiar adds a safety net for the student to begin with if they are a bit timid about composing from scratch.
Name that Tune is a classic game that most kids enjoy, but this month at our Halloween Group Lesson I'll be doing a spooky twist by having my students try this "Songs in Disguise" activity.
My daughter composed this "Ode to Sugar" a few years ago for a composition festival. I just love her creative lyrics as they reveal my own sentiments! Some students don't like the creepy sad sounding Halloween songs of the season, so I thought I'd share this happy melody in case others kids out there share her sweet tooth as well.
Each year as Halloween rolls around there are a few highly patterned pieces that I love to introduce to new students again and again. Students love the impressive sounds that become accessible to them even if some of the things printed on the page haven't been introduced to them in their method books.
Cat Prowl from Piano Adventures Gold Star 2B can easily be played by students who are a level or 2 below in the the method books if you introduce it as a rote piece. The expressive orchestrated audio sample has fun sound effects that entice students to want to learn this fun piece.
Zoom Zoom Witches Broom from Piano Adventures Gold Star Primer surprisingly only contains the 3 notes from the a minor chord, but sounds so expressive and exciting because of the added pedal, dynamics and leaps from octave to octave.
Spooky Town composed by Chris Owenby is full of hand over hand arpeggios so I prefer to introduce this piece by rote as well and then later point them to the written page.
Toccata in D Minor - Most students have heard are familiar with the introduction of this famous haunting melody and if they are not this cartoon is a fun way to introduce it. There are several free printable versions online, but I like to begin with this simple short version from gmajormusictheory.com by first having students identify the rhythm bugs they find in the piece. Because most of my students are Let's Play Music graduates, they are familiar with sixteenth/eighth note patterns and having them dictate the rhythm with bug cards really facilitates their learning of the piece partly by rote.
"Butterfly___Caterpillar Bug Slug, Butterfly______ Bug Bug Bug Slug."
Big Bad Goblin Blues Although this rhythmic piece is quite long, the repetitive bass line and repeating melodies allow students to learn it rather quickly and sometimes I have to issue a "speeding ticket" because they love to see how fast they can race through the half step passages at twice the speed like this!
Do you have any other fall favorite rote pieces that your students love?
This month in my piano studio, I'm giving my students a challenge full of choices. There are so many fun Halloween Themed Resources to use in piano lessons, but rather than just choose one for my students, this year I decided to let them select from a list of "tricks" to "treat" me with at their October music lessons.
Festival Samples for Elementary Level
Choose at least 6 pieces to listen to. Write the name of the piece, then click the link to hear it and answer the following questions on your Festival Samples Listening Assignment Sheet:
Festival Samples for Late Elementary (Piano Adventures 2A/2B, Yellow Hal Leonard 3/ NFMC P2)
I'm a multi tasking music teacher and these are just a few of the resources that I love to tap into to get through my morning workout walking the neighborhood or folding laundry on my exercise bike while I jot down notes from time to time, or prop up my phone to wash one more sink full of dishes that didn't get done the night before. Since covid prevents me from weight lifting at the gym and attending music teacher workshops at least I can exercise my mind and body at the same time as pursuing my piano passion!
The number of beats for quarter notes and rests, half and whole notes
The number of beats for Quarter, Half, Dotted Half and Whole Notes & Rests
Write in the counting for rhythm examples in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 w/ level 3 rhythms
Write in the counting for rhythm examples in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 w/ level 4 rhythms
Write in the counting for rhythm examples in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 w/ level 5 rhythms
Treble and bass clefs, forte and piano symbols
Write in the counting for rhythm examples in 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4
Identify ties and slurs
Define, pp, p, mp, mf, f ,f, accent, 8va & D.C. al Fine
Write the order of sharps and flats
The direction of notes on the staff: up, down or repeating
Recognize and/or define forte, piano, legato and staccato symbols
Recognize and/or define piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte
Write the meaning of numbers in a time signature
Write the major key signatures
Steps and skips up and down on the staff and keyboard+
Identify white or black keys on a pictured keyboard
Explain the meaning of numbers in the time signature
Identify distance only of white keys 2nds-octaves on keyboard and staff
Identify distance and quality of white key intervals 2nds-octaves on the staff
Whole and half steps on the keyboard
Draw a sharp, flat and natural sign
Draw stems for notes on the staff in the proper direction
Write the pattern of whole and half steps for major and harmonic minor scales
Identify white key major or minor triads on a keyboard
Letter names of white keys on a keyboard
Identify 2nds, 3rd, 4ths, 5ths on a pictured keyboard and staff, white keys only
Draw sharp, flat and natural symbols on the staff in proper placement
Draw sharp, flat and natural symbols on the staff in proper placement
Identify white key major or minor triads on a staff
Letter names of notes on the staff from Bass F to Treble G
Letter names of notes on the staff from Bass C to Treble C
Letter names of notes on the staff from Bass G to Treble F (all lines and spaces)
Letter names of notes on the staff from 2 ledger lines above and below the staff
Add accidentals to form major, natural minor or harmonic minor white key scales
Identify 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and 6ths by distance only on a keyboard and staff
Complete white key major triads by marking the middle note with an x
Identify whole and half steps on the staff
Major scale pattern
2/4 Time Signature
Dotted Half Note
Intervals of 6,7,8
⅜ Time Signature
D.S. al Fine
D.S. al Coda
¾ Time Signature
4/4 Time Signature
6/8 Time Signature
Poco a Poco
5 Finger Pattern