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.
Friday, October 30, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Friday, October 9, 2020
Festival Samples Later Elementary/Early Intermediate (Piano Adventures 3A, Green Hal Leonard Book 4, NFMC P3)
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Freedom to Choose
Monday, October 5, 2020
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.
How do you spookify a piece?
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.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Happy Halloween Free Composition!
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.
Rote Teaching Enhances Learning and Fun!
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?