Did you know that next Wednesday – June 21st – is International Music Day?
This is wonderful opportunity for us all to share the gift of music with all our pupils. So we are calling out to piano and music teachers everywhere to make a special effort next Wednesday to have a lesson full of music and to encourage your pupils to share their joy for music with others.
To help us do this we have reached out across the ocean to the USA (truly international!) and we’re delighted that Forrest Kinney has collaborated to write this blog with us.
INTERNATIONAL MUSIC DAY
International Music Day began in France back in 1982. There the event is known as Fête de la Musique and consists of free concerts and events. Since its inception the idea has spread across the world with the same idea of sharing music for free on the day of the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere anyhow!) CLICK HERE to find out more about the day in the UK.
HOW TO CREATE A LESSON FULL OF MUSIC
In this week’s blog we provide you with ideas about how you can create a lesson full of music.
Firstly, we outline just a few ideas that will help you put music-making at the heart of your lessons.
Secondly, we’ve handed over the blog post to Forrest Kinney who is giving away two of his fabulous improvisation pieces and a discount code for his books! Read on…
Choose any or all of these ideas to use in your lessons. Involve your pupil in helping you keep on track with the making music theme.
- Put on a 2 minute timer and for that time no speaking is allowed – musical communication only!
- Instead of describing a solution, model or demonstrate it
- Sing questions and instructions.
- Play a piece you are currently working on to your pupil
- Play a duet with your pupil
- Sit back, relax and enjoy as your pupil plays to you. Avoid turning this into a ‘teaching’ moment and just enjoy the end result.
- Improvise with your pupil
FORREST KINNEY ON IMPROVISATION
From this point on, Forrest writes…
Here’s a way that you can teach and learn improvisation at the same time. This approach is enjoyable, musical, easy, and often quite successful. You begin with a student-teacher duet and end with your student improvising solo.
Traditionally, improvisation was taught AFTER people know how to play pieces and arrangements, so improvisation consisted of varying and departing from the original tune and harmonies. However, there is another way to improvise: freely, using only simple patterns as a structure.
I call this approach Pattern Play and even beginners can do it. It’s a wonderful way to teach listening, creativity, theory, and musicality from the very first lesson!
THE PATTERN PLAY APPROACH
Your job as a teacher is to provide a safe environment that encourages exploration. To do this, play a rich-sounding accompaniment, then invite your student to “play with me” using a specific set of keys.
Your part is made of a Pattern (a repeating accompaniment) and a Vacation (a contrasting pattern). Repeat the Pattern as many times as you like, then go to the Vacation and repeat it, then return to the Pattern. Cycle through the Pattern and Vacation as many times as you like.
PIECE #1 – FOR THE JOY
Here’s a piece called For the Joy from my new Create First books. Start playing the Duet Pattern and then say to your student, “Play with me on black keys.” Respond to what the student is doing by varying your part.
Here’s a video showing me teaching and playing the duet with a student:
Duet Pattern – For the Joy:
Duet Vacation – For the Joy:
Next, switch places with your student and teach him or her the Solo version of the Pattern shown below, either by rote or reading. As the student practices the accompaniment, improvise melodies so that learning is a musical experience. When the student is ready (this may be moments, months, or even years later), have your student add melodies with their right hand. If they struggle, ask them to play quarter notes in both hands at first. Soon, they are playing solo.
Solo Pattern – For the Joy:
Solo Vacation – For the Joy:
Here’s a video showing a solo improvisation of this piece:
Create First! Solo 1-4 – For the Joy
PIECE #2 – MUSIC OF THE MOMENT
Here’s another piece, this one designed for a more experienced student who is ready to learn about the difference between A Natural Minor and Harmonic Minor.
Tell your student: “Play with me using the notes in A Natural Minor (all white keys) during the first three bars of the Pattern and also the Vacation. During the fourth measure of the Pattern and Vacation, create with A Harmonic Minor (sharp the G). You will hear the G-sharp in my part.”
Duet Pattern – Music of the Moment:
Duet Vacation – Music of the Moment:
When the student is ready, teach him or her how to play this left-hand accompaniment (either by reading or by rote), and then ask them to add melodies with their right hand.
Solo Pattern – Music of the Moment:
Solo Vacation – Music of the Moment:
These two pieces are taken from the Duet Book 1 and the Solo Book 1 of my new Create First series. You can get these as PDFs at my website: www.forrestkinney.com. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS NOW
The PDFs usually sell for US $6.95 each. I am offering you 20% off so the PDFs would now be only about $5.55 each. Just type in CURIOUS20 in the coupon box. The discount also applies to any video purchases.
Wow – thanks for all that Forrest! Just a final thought – why not encourage all your pupils to share their music this week? Maybe they could play to their parents/guardians or to friends, at school or anywhere they find a piano? Let’s make every day a music day.
This blog post was written by Forrest Kinney and Dr. Sally Cathcart, Co-Founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers.