Teaching Ideas for Rhyme Time by Elissa Milne

Have you ever been curious about how other piano teachers go about teaching repertoire?

During my early days as a teacher I struggled to teach repertoire in colourful and creative ways. Finding ways to present pieces to students in musically meaningful ways didn’t always come easily.

Ultimately, it was my observation of other teachers’ ideas that inspired me.

I became braver.

Sometimes I felt my ideas were a bit silly. (Sometimes I still do). Yet as I pushed on, I developed a better understanding of how to make the music come to life for my students. The ideas for presenting musical concepts and pianistic skills started to flow more easily.

Fast forward 10 years and I absolutely love cooking up whacky, memorable ways to present piano music to students.

(I mean, who would have guessed that marmalade sandwiches are perfectly suited to swung quavers and tied notes? Ummm… say what?! If you’re curious, your curiosity can be satisfied by watching the video below!)

What’s more, I love it when I get together with other teachers to discuss and explore the possibilities. Collaboration is so powerful: never underestimate it. (And I’ve got to say a big shout-out to Claire, a new-ish piano teacher from County Down, Northern Ireland. We had such a lot of fun concocting and developing the following ideas for Elissa Milne’s Rhyme Time earlier this year!)


So I’ve committed to doing a 12-month project where I share (with YOU!) teaching ideas for well-loved piano pieces. Therefore, every month for the next 12-months I will explore one piece – starting today!


I’ve decided to kick-off with a super cute little piece – a jazz miniature from Elissa Milne’s Little Peppers – called Rhyme Time. Currently, this piece is on the new LCM Exams syllabus: Grade 1 Piano Handbook

At this level, it’s not a soft option. Nonetheless, it’s a hugely rewarding piece to play (it sounds fab!) and hopefully the following teaching ideas will provide some inspiration to tackle the challenges.


In this video, I present a variety of teaching ideas. Obviously you don’t need to use all of them – simply mix and match with your students as appropriate. There’s also scope to use some of the ideas with other pieces. (If you do this, I’d love you to share with me what you did in the comments below!)

If you want to watch a particular teaching point, the timings are below:
00.00 – Introduction
01.35 – Performance
02.12 – Rhythm
05.55 – Pulse/Metre
06.55 – Writing Rhythm
07.45 – Teaching Resource
10.05 – Pitch
15.35 – Triads
20.15 – 7ths
30.18 – Invitation


Mini rhythm cards (Yum!) – download
Mini rhythm cards (Marmalade) – download
Large rhythm cards – download
Large illustrated rhythm cards – download
Write the rhythm (8 bars) – download
Write the rhythm (10 bars) – download
7ths (coda) – download
Illustrations – download


Each of the following books include Elissa Milne’s Rhyme Time:
Little Peppers – click here
LCM Grade 1 Piano Handbook – click here


On Friday 23 November, the video and resources for another well-loved piano piece will be released… stay curious!

If there’s a piece that you’d like to see teaching ideas and resources for, please let me know in the comments below. I can’t promise that your piece will get chosen, but I will aim to use a few suggestions.

Meanwhile, I’d love to know how you get on with these teaching ideas for Rhyme Time. You can write to me in the comments below or at sharon@curiouspiano.org – happy teaching and I look forward to connecting with you soon!

This blog post was written by Sharon Mark-Teggart | Co-Founder & Director of The Curious Piano Teachers

9 thoughts on “Teaching Ideas for Rhyme Time by Elissa Milne

  1. Alison

    Hi Sharon,
    Just wanted to give you feedback on my first lesson trying out your Rhyme Time ideas. I teach two brothers 8 & 9 years old so always like to give them different pieces to learn. So, I laminated a copy of Rhyme Time and one of Shenanigans from Little Peppers for the other.
    They loved using the phrase ‘Marmalade sandwiches’ for the rhythm of Rhyme Time and together we came up with ‘How ‘bout you…I love potato chips’ for the first two bars of Shenanigans which seemed to work. We had a slight issue with bar 15…and then came up with ‘Come and join me for tea!’
    We used the dry wipe marker pens, which they really enjoyed – marking where each rhythm pattern started and ended, where the B section came in, where it changed key etc. They were really into it.

    It’s just a start, but I had to let you know how successful it was. When their mum came to collect them they wanted to show her what they’d learnt and each lad played the first phrase from memory – with the right notes and rhythm (maybe not quite the right articulation) but we can work on that!! They told her how much fun they’d had – so A BIG THANK YOU to you for your ideas. You have inspired me to try it with other pieces now too.

    1. Sharon

      YAAAY! Thanks so, so much for taking the time to come on here and share your feedback Alison – and it sounds like you’ve been getting wonderfully creative too! I hope that the boys continue to have huge fun with this approach 🙂 x

  2. Sharon

    Hey Alison 🙂

    So glad you’ve found these ideas useful… and although I don’t have June Armstrong’s fab Paint Box book to hand, I’m sure that a similar idea will work beautifully with Dusty Blue… keep me posted on what you come up with! x

  3. Alison H

    Hi Sharon, I’ve just been looking at your ideas for teaching Rhyme Time. Marmalade sandwiches is a genius idea for the swung rhythm and i love the idea of laminating the piece and getting the pupil to mark on the score where these rhythms occur throughout the piece. For the Coda getting them to write the 7th notes on the stave is also a great way for them to learn how they look on the stave and hopefully recognise the interval when they come across it again.

    I’m wondering if i can use this approach when teaching Dusty Blue on grade 2 syllabus…mmm Will have to think about that one! If you have any more genius phrases for those rhythms i would be very grateful!

    All in all, really helpful. Thank you!

  4. Natalia L.

    Dear Sharon,
    Thank you sooooo much for such a fun and detailed approach, it makes it so clear and easy to understand.
    Looking forward to watch more of your inspiring videos!

  5. Patricia R

    Great video and teaching ideas Sharon. Thanks so much.
    Lots of fabulous ideas for teaching or tweaking the resources for other pieces.

    Really looking forward to the next video. Bye

  6. Sharon

    Awwh, thank you so much Monique! And it’s my pleasure – I hope you really enjoy these ideas and resources (I’d also love to hear how you get on with them!) x

  7. Monique

    As a new teacher I’m definitely a ‘Borrower’ as I build up creative and enjoyable ways of teaching. Generous Educators like yourself help us new teachers immensely not only with resources but also building confidence in teaching, so I thank you from the tips of my piano fingers to the bottom of my rythym tapping toes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. The Name, Email and Comment fields are required

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.