Friday, October 30, 2020

"I Am Thankful" Piano Composing Project Steps

I Am Thankful Piano Composing Project, Thanksgiving Piano Composing


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.

Thanksgiving and Fall Themed Free Piano Teaching Resources

Thanksgiving Free Piano Teaching Resources
While planning for my Thanksgiving Themed Piano Group Lesson, I revisited many of the fun Thanksgiving Piano Activities my piano students have enjoyed in the past and was grateful to discover a few new ones listed below as well.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

UVMTA Piano Festival Self Evaluation Checklist

This simple checklist is a great way to help beginning piano students evaluate their own preparedness  for piano festival. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Easy Way to Merge Creativity with a Piano Method Book



One of my favorite ways to introduce composition and improvisation in piano lessons is to pair it with the concepts that are already being introduced in the student's method books.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Musical Plot Twist


I love authenticity.  As I read Lindsey Stirling's biography recently her openness drew me in and gave me an added measure of respect for her. Her description of her grueling experience of being kicked out of violin lessons by her raging teacher who threw the music stand and ordered her to get out and never return to lessons reenacted a flashback in my mind of my own music lessons where my dreams felt dashed.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Piano Festival Music Samples Later Elementary/Early Intermediate Level 4

Piano Festival Samples Late Elementary Early Intermediate

Festival Samples Later Elementary/Early Intermediate (Piano Adventures 3A, Green Hal Leonard Book 4, NFMC P3)

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:

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

How Multiple Choice can guide Beginners in the Composition Process

Freedom to Choose

Choice is usually a good thing, but when it comes to composing, some students have a difficult time sorting through all of the options.  This short questionnaire can help them narrow down their choices and provide a step by step path to help them go through the composition process one step at a time without getting overwhelmed.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Composing Variation Cards Free Printable

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.



Teaching Composing and Improvisation with Variation Cards

Having students create impromptu variations of folk tunes like Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star can be a fun way to spark interest at the beginning of lessons, but I also like to have students choose a few variation cards to apply to the pieces in their method books on a regular basis once they have learned the piece. 


Songs in Disguise: A Music Lesson Activity

Songs in Disguise Music Lesson Activity

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

Ode to Sugar: A Happier Halloween Song Free Printable



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.

"I know I have a sweet tooth.
It's something I can't hide.
Without my precious sugar, 
I'm empty inside!

From donuts to choc'late
And choc'late fondue.
I really can not help myself,
Delicious sweets I love you!

Oh precious sugar
Your luscious smooth soft feel, 
Not one crumb I could waste
I want you every meal."

 Ode to Sugar Free Printable


Halloween Pattern Pieces

Piano Teaching Halloween Pattern Pieces, #Rote Piano


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?