improv

Reason #1 to Keep Believin’: Chords for Keeps

Most pop songs are really just “four-chord songs.” At least that is what “Axis of Awesome” (a comedic rock band) claim and explain in this PG-13 clip. They begin with Journey’s “Don’t’ Stop Believin” and continue with a medley of countless hits that feature the same four chords (in the same order, too!).  After watching this video I decided that my students must watch it as well (with parental consent), memorize those four chords and learn the opening line of Journey to play anywhere, anytime. Turns out,  they not only enjoy the fact that they can play the “Glee”-remake but also take pride in the fact that they now know the secret behind most of their favorite pop songs.  Bonus: their friends love to sing along and actually “believe” they can play the piano like the “pros”.

Teaching Hint: If your students know the Heart and Soul Pattern, they know the chords of most four-chord songs. [···]

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After last month’s article, are you still looking for:

  • A few ideas for a fresh new way to start off a lesson?
  • A few quick improv games to use in a group setting?
  • A reward activity for a student’s hard work on an assignment?
  • Starter ideas for the next composition:

In each part of this series, we are exploring a different angle in the music creativity process. So, today we are going to explore improvisation with an activity I call…

“Walking the Dog!”

Excuse Me? You may be wondering what exercising your pet has to do with improvisation techniques? I have found this to be one of the best and ways to help my students to understand and practice development of motifs and phrases. Most people can relate to having a new pet with fond recollection, and so you’ll immediately have their eager attention to try this exercise when you greet them with “Today we’re walking the dog!”

The Motif: A Mini Melody

I first ask the student to play a mini, or baby melody, 3 or 4 notes (recommend mostly steps and maybe one larger interval).  [···]

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Are you looking for?

  • A few ideas for a fresh new way to start off a lesson?
  • A few quick improv games to use in a group setting?
  • A reward activity for a student’s hard work on an assignment?
  • Starter ideas for the next composition:

In each part of this series, to be continued over the next few months, we’ll explore one or two approaches to fun and easy improvisations. This will be an opportunity for us to get a collection of activities for beginning or continuing to bring creativity into our music studios. I’m saying “we” because I’m hoping that as I share my ideas, you will reciprocate!  Try these things out, and let us know how they work and how you adapted things for your particular teaching situation. Add other improv ideas that have been successful with your music students. [···]

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