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.
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!
I wrote this cute little bunny song for one of my beginner piano students who started learning the staff a few weeks before our recital.
I've found that giving young students a prereading piece after they have started reading on the grand staff can be demoralizing, but it's quite difficult to find recital worthy music that has only two notes (and isn't a total snooze!).
This student loves to explore high and low sounds on the piano and she also loves bunnies.
So I give you "Bunny Hop"!
This piece has rests and octave leaps that can be taught by rote while your student reads the rest of the piece with their new found note reading skills.
I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine!
This song is free on my Teacher Pay Teachers store for a limited time.
I have been doing themed recitals for years. It started back when I was teaching in-home lessons and all of my students wanted to play music from the same genre.
When I had 10, 20, even 30 students it was easy to find enough variety of pieces for them to play, but as my studio grew, I began having trouble finding pieces to fit my themes.
The biggest problem? There was a limited amount of pre-staff reading piano music for my newest piano students. There is some out there, but at the time I had more students than pieces, so I began to write my own music for these kiddos.
Here are 3 winter songs that I wrote for my piano students. I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine have!
So many of my students have been obsessed with dinosaurs at some point in their young lives. Dinosaur Winter was written for one of these students.
This white key pre-reading piece uses quarter notes, quarter rests (which can be taught by rote) and half notes. Played on C, D, & E it's the perfect piece for a student just learning the white keys on the piano!
Dancing in the Snow
This is a lyrical piece that is centered around the C 5-Finger Scale (aka C position). It has students swirling down the piano with cross-hand motion.
I typically have my students start on G7 (the highest G on the piano), but it can be started in any octave.
The Abominable Snowman
Have a student who loves those low sounds? This song is for them!
Written in A minor, with basic rhythms of quarter, half, and whole notes, and an easy hand position, this fun piece will delight every student!
All downloads come with a studio license. An explanation of this license can be found on each listing.
Want to get your hands on all 3 pieces? Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers shop to purchase the Winter Piano Music Bundle and save!
What would Valentine's Day be without a little music teacher love? Here are 5 of my favorite music activities that I have used with my students over the years:
1. Valentine's Composing A couple of years ago I came up with the idea to have my students compose their own pieces for Valentine's Day. Not all of my students were reading on the staff, so I put together this little composing activity for them to use.
2. Puppy Love is an adorable note reading game from Andrea & Trevor Dow over at TeachPianoToday.
3. Valentine's Cookie Memory I love the many different levels this game incorporates. I'll be introducing a lot of new symbols to some of my little ones and testing the memories of my older ones. I decided to print the black and white version onto 2 sided color card card stock, then I laminated them. Personally, I think they're adorable, thanks Sara for this freebie :)
4. Susan Paradis has a plethora of awesome piano and music activities, games, & songs on her website, I won't list them all today, but here's where they can be found.
5. I have no idea where I got this worksheet from, but it's a hit every year!
Do you do holiday activities with your students? Have you used any of these?