Music Teacher's Helper Blog

A Musical Mother’s Day Card


Kristin Jensen’s site called Ear Training and Improv offers unique worksheets, videos and posts to spur musical imaginations. Kristin’s growing library of clever resources for music teachers is impressive. Since the special day is coming up shortly, I decided to check out her Mother’s Day Composition activity.

I’m always attempting to find a way to incorporate my favorite tool (the iPad) and prefer to remain a paper-free studio as much as possible. Therefore, I’ve created a tutorial on how your students can complete Kristin’s activity as a digitally handcrafted musical Mother’s Day card with just the iPad and the help of a terrific app, of course!

Take a Peek at a Completed Composition

Here’s a finished project. You’ll notice some slight variations in what was notated and how it was played and sung–creativity can’t be stopped!

Note: Before you begin this process make sure to download Notability developed by Ginger Labs at the App Store. Here’s the link.

Steps to Creating this Paper-Free Creative Project

Place the PDF in the Notability App

  • Open your Safari browser
  • Visit Ear Training and Improv
  • Tap on the Resources found in the Menu
  • Tap on Composition
  • Scroll down to Mother’s Day Piano Composition: I Love Mom
  • Tap on the title.
  • Tap on Free Printable.
  • Tap on the screen.
  • When prompted with Open In, tap on the Notability icon
  • Create a new note and entitle it “Mother’s Day Composition”
  • Tap and hold on the note until the word Duplicate appears.
  • This will create a copy of the worksheet.
  • Tap Edit found on the upper LH corner to change the title of the duplicate you just made and add a student’s name.
  • Repeat this for all your students.
  • Move the copies into the appropriate subject folder–see below to learn more.

Organize your PDF’s and student duplicates

Tap on the Plus Sign (+) at the top left hand corner and create a Divider for each day of the week you teach.
Create a Subject and title it with the last name of your student families.
Drag the Subject labelled with the family name under the correct Divider/Day that the student arrives for lessons
Drag the notes labelled with the first names of students into the appropriate subject folders

Complete the Music Project

Open the document labelled with the student’s name that is presently composing.

Encourage your composer to improvise within the major 5-finger pattern scale based on the first letter of his/her mom’s name. For example, Anne begins with A so the composer would create within the key of A. If a mom’s name is Karen, begin with the A key and play each key moving up the normal alphabet (not the musical alphabet) until you land on “K.” You’ll discover this key is “D.”

After the composer has filled in the blanks of the lyrics, determine the rhythm pattern to be used in each measure of 4/4 time by syllables of the words. For example, “My mom is great” could be four quarter notes or a quarter, two 8ths and a half note, etc. Let the composer decide and write the rhythm above the words only NOT notation of the pitches to be used.

Once the composer determines the rhythm, encourage the student to experiment within that rhythm using the appropriate 5-finger pattern or scale. Work measure by measure and as the melody develops, write the pitch name above the note value.


Next, the student must choose a colored pencil (tap on the pencil icon at the top of the screen to change colors) to correctly notate the composition from the “chicken scratches” we’ve just annotated on the document. Notability makes it very easy to erase and start with a clean slate.

After the correct notation is complete, ask your composer to play and sing along.
When it is performance ready, tap the Microphone icon at the top of the screen and ask your student to play (and sing!) to record the original masterpiece.  Challenge yourself to join in and add a simple accompaniment!

Once your composer is satisfied with the recording, tap the Share icon (square with arrow pointing upward) and email the composition notation AND the recording to the proud mom.

Note: If you want to email the composition and the recording, choose the PDF format. If you just want to send or text the recording, choose the RTF format.

Thank you, Kristin Jensen, for the nicely-packaged project. The only thing this hand-made, digitally produced, paper-free gift is missing is a bow!

Happy Mother’s Day to You and Your Mom!

Here’s a video showing the highlights of the process above.

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