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.

Start with a Melody

Week 1: Using the "I Am Thankful Composing Sheet" from choose 3 things you are grateful for and compose a short melody to go along with the lyrics.
  • 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

Week 2: Add a B section melody and choose the form of your piece ABA?, ABAB? or ABBA?  For the B section you could:
  • 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?

Week 3: Add a left hand part.
  • Single Bass Note?
  • Blocked Chords?
  • Broken Chords?
  • Copycat of the Melody?
  • Ostinato Repeating Bass?

Expression and Title

Week 4: Choose a title and tempo for your piece.
  • What expression marks could you add to make your piece more interesting? 
  • Dynamics? (pp, p, mp, mf, f, ff)
  • Accents? 
  • Ritardando? 
  • Decrescendo or crescendo? 
  • Staccato or Slurs ?
Go the Extra Mile
  • Read this post by Bradley Sowash to learn how to add an Intro.
    • Brakes
  • Look at examples endings or watch Bradley Sowash's video on how to add any of these Outros ending).
    • Brakes
    • Repeat the end and I mean it!
    • Range Change
    • Flying Hands
    • Scaling Away
    • Mashup
Options for transcribing songs include Finale,  MuseScore and NoteFlight.   Although Finale has more options, I find MuseScore and Noteflight are easier to use for young students and they are free.  MuseScore requires a download to your p.c. and Noteflight can be accessed online if you sign up using an email address and then you can access your compositions on any computer by simply signing in.

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