Category Archives: Holiday Music

O Come, All Ye Faithful in Primer and Pre-reading

OComeAllYeFaithful

One of my students learned O Come, All Ye Faithful in school and wanted to play it. It wasn’t in his Christmas book, so I wrote one out for him.

This is one of the first Christmas Carols I learned. I was so excited because of the dynamic changes in the refrain. I wasn’t taking piano then, so this was the first time I was aware of gradually getting louder in each phrase. I can’t explain how thrilled I was to learn that music could do that! Sometimes as a teacher I forget that what is old-hat to me is a novel idea to my students.

There are two arrangements to choose from. One is pre-reading and the other is on-the-staff and only uses 8 notes. One thing interesting about this carol is that there are no thirds (skipping notes) in the right hand and only one skip on the left. That makes it a lot easier.  Yes, I used dotted quarter notes in the staff version, but it’s easy to teach by rote. If they know this carol, they are going to play the dotted rhythms anyway so they might as well see what they are playing. Also, when they find this rhythm in other music they won’t be afraid of it.

O Come, All Ye Faithful – Pre-reading

O Come, All Ye Faithful – Early Elementary  [The primer version originally had the middle C in measure 14 in the wrong hand. I fixed it and reposted it. Thank you to the kind teacher who let me know!]

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Music

Some More Beginning Christmas Music

Christmas-Muisc-More

I’ve been busy and added some more beginning level Christmas music to my big list of Christmas arrangements in my last post.

Today’s group are for beginners who know just a few notes on the staff.

Up on the Housetop – Beginning level, on the staff

Jolly Old St. Nicholas – Beginning level, on the staff

Deck the Halls – Beginning level, on the staff

We Three Kings – Beginning level, on the staff.

 

 

 

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Filed under Christmas, Holiday Music

Updated Primer Halloween Music

Halloween Music

Finally! I’m running a little late, but I’ve remade all the primer level Halloween music into portrait orientation so it will fit in my student’s binders! Yeah! Now it is so much easier for them to open their binders and play. And hopefully, while they have their binders opened, they will actually look at what else I’ve assigned and practice it!

These are easy enough to be used by students who have just learned to read some notes on the staff.

Two of these pieces have an autumn theme with no mention of Halloween. Those two are See the Scarecrow and Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater. So if you have students who don’t play Halloween music, you can use these.

The music isn’t new, and if you’ve been using my site for years, I’m sure you have seen these before. What is new is the portrait orientation and I’ve updated the art in 3 of them. Some of these have duets and some don’t. It depends on how much room I had on the page.

This music is very short, except for Five Little Pumpkins. If you are having a Halloween recital, they can either play the piece twice, the second time in a different octave, or they can learn 2 or 3 of them and play them as a set. For those of you who are new teachers, the easiest ones have no skips, and I’m listing those first.

Some of you have been having trouble downloading my bigger files, so I am posting these separately. I hope your students enjoy the new portrait format of these pieces!

  1. Halloween Halloween Portrait
  2. See the Scarecrow Portrait
  3. Halloween is almost Here Portrait
  4. Once Year On Halloween Portrait
  5. Peter Pumpkin Eater
  6. Hey Mr Mummy Portrait
  7. Five Little Pumpkins Revised

By downloading this free music you agree to the following terms of use:

  • This music is for your private use with piano students or family and may be performed in recitals.
  • This files may not be shared outside of your home or studio either electronically or any other method.
  • The music may not be posted on another internet site and it may not be sold.
  • The art is also protected by copyright and may not be used on other material.

Thank you!  

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Filed under Halloween, Holiday Music

Jingle Bells with Rhythm Instruments at a Group Lesson

Jingle Bells with instruments

I bought the electronic version of the new book by Philip Johnston called The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents, and build the music studio everyone wants to get into. (Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate because I get questions about where to buy the things I write about. Amazon sends me a few cents if a reader buys something from clicking  the book link.) Philip Johnston writes inspiring books that get me enthused to teach in different ways. One of his main ideas is to be different; don’t always do the same thing. Maybe that was on my mind when I decided to use rhythm instruments in my group lessons.

After an unsuccessful search for an easy piano/rhythm band ensemble I could use in a group lesson without a lot of preparation, I wrote my own.  I arranged this specifically to be easy enough that they could be successful without having to practice, so please keep that in mind.

I  wrote the second piano part for an electric bass, which some students can play. This part can also be played on the piano, so I call it Piano 2 in the score. You can also use bells or any other tuned instrument, and it sounds fine to omit it.

The first group was my youngest students. They absolutely loved the instruments. But if you have ever used rhythm instruments with young children, you know what a challenge they are.  I didn’t mind that some of them could not play the written part and just played the steady beat.  I was surprised that a few of them actually followed the score. I let the little beginner on the bells shake them through the entire song rather than the way I wrote it in the score. No one in that group reads well enough for the piano part. I had to play by ear because I could not find the piano score! That seemed to amuse the young group.

The second group of 9 and 10-year-old students was absolutely the right age for this activity. Without any practice, (except for the Piano 1 part, which I gave to a 5th grader the week before) they were able to read the score and play the correct rhythm. We traded instruments and repeated it a few times. I am only sorry that I didn’t record it, because they did really well. The student playing the piano part was thrilled to be part of an ensemble.

After that, we changed directions and performed on the piano for each other using good performance skills. Everyone had learned a Christmas song or a favorite piece. That did not take too long and we went on to the next activity.

They had all been looking at the electric bass and wondering why it was there. We discussed the history of the electric bass and how it was like the double bass. I also got in some theory with the older groups, as we discussed the root of chords and how that is an easy way to play the bass. This is where taking our state theory exam really helped. I demonstrated with my meager guitar skills (Me on the electric bass, how funny was that!) and then let them all try it.

Our last activity was playing a Thanksgiving board game, with different level cards for each age group. I was relieved my students enjoyed the game because I had not tried it out with a group. Even my older students had fun and reviewed some theory at the same time. Finally, we just had enough time to pass out cookies and candy canes, and they all left happy.

Later I asked what was their favorite activity. Can you guess what it was? The rhythm instruments! So with that in mind, I am sharing my simple score with you. Feel free to change the instruments to whatever you have on hand, even homemade instruments.

Obviously you don’t need a score for this simple rhythm section, but my students found it interesting, and it helped me focus. If one of your students has a family member who can play the Piano 2 part on the electric bass or any other instrument, that would be really fun, especially for a Christmas recital! Please alert me if you find any mistakes in my score, as I don’t have an editor. Have fun and if you have a successful performance, let me know!

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Filed under Christmas, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Music, Rhythm