Monthly Archives: September 2011

What Will I Say On Halloween? a beginning piece

What Will I Say On Halloween?

I wrote this for a new student right after her first lesson. She saw the all the Halloween sheet music around my studio,  and wistfully asked me if she could play a Halloween piece.  Of course I had to draw one before her next lesson because she is so darling and wanted one so badly!

Since this student is on the first pages of her book, I wrote it without notes, just finger numbers. I am sharing it with other teachers because it was too much work for just one student! She was having a little trouble with finger numbers, so I’m going to put an pumpkin ring on her 4th finger.

It is intended to be in 3 meter, played on the black keys with the left hand. The last note in each line is a dotted half note. If you tap out the rhythm on your piano cover, students will get a feel for how it goes.

So if you have a beginner or a preschool child of your own,  please feel free to use it. Maybe the ending will encourage your  students to compose their own song! What will they say at the end?


Filed under Halloween, Pre-reading, Preschool Music Resources

Speeding Underground – Level One

Speeding Underground

I asked one of my students if he would like me to write a piece for him. He was excited and quickly game me a title, Speeding Underground.

I don’t know exactly what he was thinking, but in my head I thought of an underground space ship zipping through all the levels of the earth. I think it was because I had just visited the fantastic Carnegie museum in Pittsburgh where I saw very interesting exhibits  of the geology of the ground underneath Pittsburgh.

This paragraph is for new teachers.  The non-staccato notes should be played legato. For example, the student should connect the right and left hand broken chords such as the ones in the first and second measures.  I didn’t mark it, but that’s the way we play it. Let your student draw the legato slurs and they will remember them better.

I decided to write this in C minor because my young student was playing the C minor 5-finger scale at the time. It can easily be transposed to another key. All my students who have finished their Primer level book and have moved on the next book (Level 1 in most method books, but Level 2 in Hal Leonard) have  enjoyed this because it sounds harder than it is, and who can resist C minor?


Filed under Elementary Music

See the Scarecrow – Primer Level

See the Scarecrow

It’s time for my yearly Halloween post,  where I post a new a Halloween song as well as remind new readers of my old Halloween material.

I wrote See the Scarecrow last year for a beginning student who was just starting to read on the staff.  The only thing that might be a little tricky is the RH thumb on D. This is a good piece to read something simple that is not in middle C position.

I had never drawn a scarecrow before and  it took forever, but it was fun and my students were happy with the way it turned out. There are a lot of noisy crows around the house this time of year, and  that’s what inspired me to jot down the song. It was interesting that some of my students did not know the purpose of a  scarecrow!

If you are looking for more beginning Halloween music, check out some of the pieces I have posted over the years. Most of them are written in both pre-reading and on-the-staff notation, so they are perfect for beginning  students. The last one is 2 pages and a little more difficult.

It’s October (finger numbers only for the first week of lessons)

Hey Mr. Mummy  (on staff with teacher duet)

Halloween is Almost Here (pre-reading)

Halloween is Almost Here (on  staff)

Halloween, Halloween (pre-reading)

(Halloween Halloween on the staff)

Once A year On Halloween (pre-reading)

Once a Year On Halloween (on staff)

Five Little Pumpkins (pre-reading, but long for a young beginner)

Five Little Pumpkins (on the staff)

Sneaky Sneakers (Level 1)




Filed under Elementary Music, Halloween, Holiday Music

Cute Certificate for Completing Fishy Scales

Fishy Scales Certificate

When your younger students learn their 5-finger scale patterns, reward them with this colorful certificate!

I made this last year when a teacher asked me if I had a certificate for my Fishy Scales. I didn’t have one, but I thought it was a good idea, so I made one!

I’m not quite sure why I never got around to posting this when I made it, but here it is now.

The nice thing about this certificate is that you can not only use it to go along with the Fishy Scales,  but really for anything, since it is blank.

If you are looking for something for your older students, check out this different technique certificate I posted several years ago for older students.

Be sure to set your printer to landscape mode. Try setting your printer to 2-up, which will print 2 on a page and save some paper and ink.

I hope your students enjoy the fishy scales certificate!


Filed under Certificates, Preschool Music Resources, Teaching Aids

Rhythm Menagerie™ – a Review

Rhythm Menagerie™ Book 1 by Wendy Stevens

How would you like your music students to be proficient in playing and counting rhythm patterns, and have fun doing it?

Wendy Stevens has written and recently published the resource Rhythm Menagerie™, Reproducible Rhythm Explorations, a book to sequentially learn how to be an independent rhythm reader. Recently she sent me the book to give it a look-over and try out with my students.

I think as music teachers we want our students to be able to work out rhythms on their own and not rely on copying or learning by rote. Not only is this book very attractive with an easy to follow layout, but it is so comprehensive that students who use it diligently will certainly become independent rhythmically.

Rhythm Menagerie is 92 pages long, with 8 chapters. Each chapter features a new rhythm problem, starting with quarter and half notes and going all the way to dotted quarter notes. The book will have students enjoying themselves as they play rhythms in a fun and imaginative way. Students will also like the attractive graphics of unusual animals, with interesting information about each one. The graphics are suitable for all ages of piano students, good news for those of use with older beginners.

Have you ever noticed that some students are so concerned about the notes that their rhythm and steady beat is all over the place, and not in a good way? Wendy says that students will learn to read rhythms easier and be more successful if they are not also trying to play notes at the same time.

Rhythm Menagerie is an excellent resource to use along with a regular lesson book at a private lesson, but it can also be adapted for groups, such as a summer music camp. Home school families who want to introduce some music into their curriculum might also find this book useful.

After downloading the book, Wendy suggests printing out one page a week to use at the lesson and gradually work on rhythm skills throughout the year. I think that if you use the book with an older beginner, you can speed up the pace considerably.

Wendy’s book can be purchased and printed directly from her website. Once you have purchased the book, you can print it on your computer to use with your students again and again, and of course adapt it for your needs.

If you order the book before Sept. 20, you will receive a discount. Take a look at her the inside of her book here, and don’t forget to watch the cute video she made showing some of her students having fun with Rhythm Menagerie.

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Filed under Music Reviews, Rhythm