Last week I shared a composition activity about Ralph, the Smelly Elf. I had so much fun creating that activity that I found myself singing my own version days later.
I got so into it, that I note only wrote a song, but I also wrote it in 4 different arrangements, as well as a second verse and a teacher duet!
What can I say, Ralph stayed with me and when creativity strikes, I cannot ignore it. :)
The Smelly Elf, is an early elementary song that can be used in piano lessons, guitar lessons, ukulele lessons, voice lesson, orchestra string lessons and wind lessons. (whew!)
How does it work for so many instruments? There are 4 versions in this bundle to make this piece accessible to a variety of instruments: Grand Staff in C position; Pre-reading in C position; Treble Staff in C major; and Treble Staff in G major.
The Smelly Elf can be found here in my store.
I don't know about your students, but mine love composing, so I try to incorporate a composing activity as much as possible in my private lessons.
Today I'm sharing a new composing activity just in time for Thanksgiving!
"I am Thankful" gives your pre-reading students the opportunity to think about what they're grateful for and express it in song.
Usually for composing activities I write the lyrics and choose the rhythms for my students then they plug in the notes/finger numbers then play the song.
This composing activity is special because students get to write what they're thankful for and figure out the rhythms to go with it!
Note: There are guide notes in some measures - which can easily be changed - and others are left blank so your students can create their own rhythm to match their lyrics.
This activity will be FREE for a limited time on my TpT Store and my newly opened TopMusicMarketplace Store!
Looking for more Thanksgiving activities for your lessons or music classroom? I created a Pinterest Board with many other games, songs and activities!
A couple of months ago I said, "You know you're a music teacher when you're thinking about Halloween in August."
Well, the sentiment holds true for today's post.
Here we are, dedicated piano teachers, preparing for Christmastime and singing all of those carols while watching jack-o-lanterns and ghosts go by as we drive to work.
I don't know about you, but I've been singing Christmas music for the last 2 weeks or so.
Today, I'll be sharing with you 6 Christmas songs that I've arranged for my students over the years. It is my hope that you and your students will get as much enjoyment out of them as my students and I have.
Up on the Housetop
This fun arrangement gives students the chance to explore the wide range of the piano and with a glissando for a flourishing end.
This is by far the most requested piece in my studio.
Seriously, everyone wants to learn Jingle Bells. This pre-reading arrangement is easily accessible to young beginners.
O Christmas Tree
The second most popular piece that my students request? O Christmas Tree.
This approachable arrangement will help your elementary piano students learn eighth notes in a familiar and comfortable way.
O Holy Night
Requested by an adult student, this lyrical arrangement is simple & beautiful.
We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Three things that make this early elementary arrangement awesome:
Deck the Hall
With or without the "s" at the end of the title, this is a piece that your elementary piano students will adore!
Just like We Wish You a Merry Christmas, there are no eighth notes, but the RH position changes and the LH intervals add a little sugar and spice to this piece.
You know you're a music teacher when you're thinking about Halloween in August.
This year I'm planning a Halloween recital, so I've been thinking about it extra early. I love writing holiday music for my students and I have several Halloween pieces in my store. Today I'll be discussing some of them, but also sharing music for other instruments and fun activities.
Songs & Improv
Midnight Masquerade is a song I wrote for a student who just discovered she could reach octaves! This piece comes with 3 versions, one with and one without octaves, as well as a simpler pre-reading version.
Halloween Piano Improv
I’ve been using this resource from Teach Piano Today since it came out 5 years ago. The simple teacher duet part combined with the creative phrases make for a fun time creating at the piano.
This song is perfect for beginner piano students! The simple repeated patterns make it easy to play and the minor key makes it sound especially Halloween-y. This piece comes with FOUR versions: two pre-reading arrangements in A minor position and two staff reading in D minor position. It's currently free on my TpT Store, but only for a limited time.
Activities & Games
Skin & Bones
Have you ever heard of the song "Skin & Bones"? I first learned this song when I was teaching elementary band. The vocal teacher in my school had her students singing it while playing a circle game. I've since found that it's wonderful in private voice lessons. The repeated "Ooo" is especially useful in helping students explore vowel shaping. I also found this Orff arrangement for classroom music teachers.
Addams Family Cup Passing Game
My students LOVE cup activities. I have no idea who came up with it, but it is brilliant! Someone created this visual and there’s a YouTube follow along video. This year I’m going to challenge my students to perform it with a frown like Wednesday Addams….and let’s be honest, there’s nothing funnier than seeing kids trying not to smile!
Weesing's Halloween song book includes a minor version of Looby Lou with new lyrics. It got me thinking about all of the other children's songs that can be sung in minor to make them sound "spooky".
Bats & Cats Notes
Oh my goodness, how my students LOVE this game by Susan Paradis. It’s easily adaptable to intermediate students. No joke, I had a student request it twice this summer. Definitely a must have!
Here in the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. It is a time for us to mourn and honor those who lost their lives serving our country in the armed forces, but for many Americans, it's become a day off of work to play and eat with family and friends.
This year will be different since many of us are still in quarantine and are unable to gather. So, I'd like to challenge us all to treat the day with the respect it deserves. We can and should still enjoy ourselves, after all that's what those brave men and women gave their lives for, but let's take a moment to remember and be grateful for their sacrifices.
I've compiled a few playlists of music to help your weekend of remembrance. Some are traditional American songs, others more modern and contemporary. Whatever genre speaks to you, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and God Bless America!
Instrumental Patriotic Songs
Country Music Songs
American Patriotic Songs and Marches
Memorial Day Weekend Playlist (Pop/Rock Summer Songs)
That's right, tomorrow is International Piano Day!
What is Piano Day?
"The aim of the day is to create a platform for piano related projects in order to promote the development of musical dimensions and to continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano. It is intended to be the most joyful of all holidays!" (pianoday.org)
When is Piano Day?
Piano Day is celebrated on the 88th day of the year - March 28th, 2020 - because of the number of keys on the instrument.
Why Piano Day?
Why the heck not?
No, seriously, we observe so many other holidays that have lost meaning to most people celebrating them, why not celebrate something that has meaning in our lives?
As Nils Frahm puts it, “Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.”
How Can You Celebrate Piano Day?
The easiest way to celebrate is by playing and sharing the love of all things piano with those whom you love.
There are typically local gatherings and concerts across the world, but due to the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic, many (if not all by the time this is posted) of the live events have been canceled. There are however several groups have chosen to continue their performances via livestream. You can find more information about that at pianoday.org.
Here are some additional resources:
The official Piano Day website - http://www.pianoday.org/ Here you can create your own beautiful piano music by clicking on the tabs. I've had it going on loop in the background while writing this post 😊
Piano Day on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pianodayofficial/