This week is the first group week of the new school year in my studio! I’m really excited to be starting group lessons again – they’re always my favorite part of each month. I’ve been busy working on some new activities, which means I’ll have LOTS of new things to post over the next week or two (to make up for all the posting I haven’t been doing recently !).
In my studio, group lessons take the place of regular private lesson during the last week of the month, so the week prior to group weeks, I always give my students extra assignments to keep them busy for the two weeks in between private lessons. This month, I made up a handout to spark the beginning of some Halloween compositions:
At lessons, I had students read through the starter ideas on the sheet and pick one that they thought looked interesting. We picked a hand position (d minor keeps a lot of the writing “on-staff”) and took turns improvising short melodies, so they could practice putting one note per syllable of text. Together, we marked their starting hand position on a sheet of blank staff paper (the blank 2-octave keyboard labels from Susan’s site work great for this), and wrote down a title (or at least an “in progress” title!). I always ask younger students to write compositions out by hand at first, then they have the option of working in Finale at the studio to give their finished piece a professional look.
For a few students who weren’t excited about having to write out a composition, I also gave them the option of picking 2 or 3 ideas off the sheet and improvising ways to make sounds that would match the pictures. At their next lesson, they get to play their improvisations for me, and I have to guess which pictures they chose!
The song starter sheet is available for download on my website. I’ve got several improv/composing activities lined up for the next few months, so decided to add an extra tab on the website to keep them more organized. Stay tuned for more!