DIY Sheet Music

Has anyone met a piano student who doesn’t LOVE sheet music?   There’s something especially exciting and motivating about the stuff.  My students love to play it… and some of them also love to MAKE it.

During summer lessons, I make an extra effort to encourage creative projects in my studio.  Many students opt to compose a piece or two (or three…).  Once they’re satisfied with their compositions, we “publish” their pieces as sheet music!

Compositions from earlier this spring. The piece on the right was inspired by one of the fantastic composition project sheets on Susan Paradis' Piano Teacher Resources site.

Students handwrite their pieces first, then typeset them in Finale at the studio.  Writing their music on the staff and then typing it into the software gives students lots of practice on their note names.  (Note: I’ve always used Finale, and encouraged students who are interest to purchase the $9 Finale Notepad software to use at home.  However… I’ve recently discovered the FREE MuseScore software and have been testing it out.  It looks to be a great option if you don’t want to make an investment in Finale.)

Most students opt to create their own cover artwork.  Some hand-draw pictures, others opt to find computer clipart.  Creating artwork that expresses the theme or ideas of their piece gives students a concrete representation of what they want to express musically.  If students get “stuck” on a composition, we’ll sometimes start with the cover art, and let the music follow!   Once the art is completed, we run it through the printer to add the title and composer’s name.

All that’s left to do is glue the printed score and artwork onto a folded sheet of 11″ x 17″ paper.  You can pick up a ream of the paper at any office supply store.  A package of paper goes a long way – I purchased one 4 or 5 years ago, and still have plenty left to last another 5 years!!

I like to display finished compositions in the studio – they’re a great motivator for other student who may be a bit timid about composition or creative projects.  Students love arriving at lessons to find their composition has been “published” and is ready to take home and show off!!


DIY Sheet Music — 3 Comments

  1. We do this too – I always choose a “composer of the month” and that composition is framed and hangs in the waiting area of the studio. Then, students can come to our website to print the composition and play the music from their peers. It’s such a great motivator – you are right!

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