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.
Start with a Melody
- Pick a scale (key) to compose your song with and use only notes that are in that scale. (C Major Pentascale-C, D, E, F or G?) or (D Major D, E, F#, G, A, B,C#, D)
- Use the rhythms at the top as a guide. You could replace 2 quarter notes with a dotted quarter + eighth note or use swing style eighth notes.
- Do the note values in each measure add up to 4 beats?
Add Variety and Form
- Play some parts backwards (retrograde). (For example C_ EFG becomes G_FEC).
- Add a sequence.
- Double (augmentation) or half (diminution) the note values.
- Represent your thankful item with a "sound effect" on the piano?
- Choose notes/rhythm for lyrics "Feelin' grateful, Feelin' grateful, Feelin' grateful everyday." or "Counting blessings, counting blessings, gratitude brings me joy." or come up with your own lyrics for 4 measures.
What about the Bass?
- Single Bass Note?
- Blocked Chords?
- Broken Chords?
- Copycat of the Melody?
- Ostinato Repeating Bass?
Expression and Title
- What expression marks could you add to make your piece more interesting?
- Dynamics? (pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff)
- Decrescendo or crescendo?
- Staccato or Slurs ?
- Read this post by Bradley Sowash to learn how to add an Intro.
- Look at examples endings or watch Bradley Sowash's video on how to add any of these Outros ending).
- Repeat the end and I mean it!
- Range Change
- Flying Hands
- Scaling Away