Do you want to teach chords and arranging to your music students?

The Piano Chords Fun Book is a 24 page easy-to-understand resource, including popular left hand accompaniment patterns, tips for accompanying singers and instrumentalists, tips for voicing chords, lead sheets, and the most repinned piano chord chart on Pinterest!

Get The Piano Chords Fun Book | Chords and Arranging for Kids

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Contents
Easy to Read Piano Chord Chart (2 Pages)
Examples of Popular Left Hand Accompaniment Patterns
Tips for Accompanying Singers and Instrumentalists
Introduction to Chord Voicing
8 Lead Sheets (Jesus Loves Me, Hot Cross Buns, Baby Bumblebee, Mary Ann, Brahms’ Lullaby, Jingle Bells, Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella and Simple Gifts)
Music Manuscript Paper (2 Pages)

This book makes accompanying easy. It begins with the most popular accompaniment pattern – the boom-chick – and builds from there. The first few pages are devoted to learning how to create arrangements of songs for solo piano. The next part shows students how to accompany singers and instrumentalists. To make your arrangements really sound great two pages are set aside for chord voicing – the art of chord inversions, spacing and chord member doublings. The next section is worth the price of the book all by itself – lead sheets. Eight lead sheets are included (listed in the contents above) to help students get started. After that they can print digital download lead sheets and fake books on  sites like SheetMusicPlus.com and MusicNotes.com. Finally, two pages of music manuscript paper are included to write out a few ideas. Students may have a hard time understanding how the music and the accompaniment patterns fit together in their head, so the manuscript paper will be helpful.

Here are a few pages from the book:

The Piano/Keyboard Chord Chart includes 48 of the most popular piano chords. Unless your students are learning a jazz lead sheet (with rich chord extensions) this piano chord chart should be all they’ll need.

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This page is the first page of instruction, introducing students to left hand accompaniment patterns. Example #1 provides students with an easy to play song – Hot Cross Buns – with the boom-chick accompaniment pattern. Since this book is all about the accompaniment it’s nice to have a simple melody to play. Example #2 show students how to adapt the boom-chick pattern for 3/4 meter to accompany Brahms Lullaby.

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This page is one of the 8 lead sheets included at the end of this book. Each lead sheet includes the melody, chords and lyrics. The list of songs is included in the contents (see above).

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The basics of arranging a song is simply applying “vocabulary of ideas” to a song. The Piano Chords Fun Book is a “vocabulary” builder. Choose one of the patterns included in this book that’s right for your song and you’re on your way to a solid arrangement. Refine it a little with the other tips included in this book and you’re well on the way to greatness!

Get The Piano Chords Fun Book | Chords and Arranging for Kids

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Here’s an easy to play piano solo for You Raise Me Up, made popular by Josh Groban. It would be a great selection for students that have studied piano for at least four years.

Get You Raise Me Up | Easy Piano Sheet Music on MusicNotes.com

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Lyrics
When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me…

Get more lyrics on Google Play Music

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Most kids won’t grow up to be music composers. However, the opportunity to compose or arrange music shouldn’t be overlooked as it will bring a richness of understanding to their musical experience that you just can’t get any other way.

I started writing and arranging music is high school, and my band director had the jazz and concert band read every single thing I wrote. I learned how to building chords, writing counterpoint, and orchestration. All these experiences made me a better listener and helped me to appreciate the music I played.

If you’d like to try composing with your students, but don’t know where to start, you can print this book – Composing with Kids | Fives “Recipes” for Success. Each “recipe” includes ingredients (like “use this ostinato”, “this form”, or “these rhythms”) and directions on how to combine them. If it sounds a lot like baking cookies… it is!

Composing with Kids | Fives “Recipes” for Success

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Music Notation Apps

Seeing your music printed from a professional notation tool is an amazingly satisfying thing. I recently asked one of my students to give Finale Print Music a try, so she download the 30-day free trial. She loved it! One of the big advantages of writing things out with a notation program is that students get to hear a digital performance. Finale’s Human Playback feature is pretty nice. It still sounds like an electronic piano, but sounds very much like a real person is playing.

Noteflight
Noteflight is a web-based app that can be used on you iPad or Desktop. They offer a “try before you buy” account, so you can check things out first.  Noteflight is supportive to teachers and students and includes many materials and lesson plans for download.

Finale Print Music
Finale Print Music is a basic version of Make Music’s Finale software. They also offer a “try before you buy” account, so you can check things out first. I began writing arrangements with Print Music and liked it. It’s a wonderful tool that allows you to write simple piano arrangements, or music for full band or orchestra. The only reason I upgraded was so I could switch clefs mid-measure.

I’ve had several students over the years ask about playing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It’s such a great piece. This arrangement should be playable by your intermediate piano students. It’s in the Key of C Major, but you can change the key if you want to introduce a new scale and get them playing more comfortably in a different key.

Get Hallelujah (Cohen) | Printable Sheet Music (Easy Piano)

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The Carnival of Venice became popular as a virtuoso trumpet solo, but makes a wonderful piece for intermediate piano students. This arrangement is written in the key of C Major, and keeps the hands close to C position most of the time, providing for ease of performance.

Get Carnival of Venice | Sheet Music for Intermediate Piano Solo

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History
The Carnival of Venice melody is based on a popular German folk tune, “My hat, it has three corners.” In German it’s “Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken.” The trumpet solo, mentioned earlier, is written in theme and variation form, including plenty of opportunites to play fast scales, arpeggios,  and double and triple tounging. The Arban’s Conservatory Trumpet Method is the most celebrated solo, though cornet player Herbert L. Clark also wrote his own version. Chopin also jumped in with “Souvenir de Paganini”, and dedicated his version to the violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini.

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If the experienced teacher is the best teacher, Olive Haffner might just be the best teacher on the planet.

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Olive says she loves teaching, and say’s it’s alot like reading the Bible, she’s always discovering something new.

Olive started teaching music lessons during the depression for .25 a lesson. These days she’s teaching the fourth generation of students, as her first students have sent their kids, their kids sent their kids, and their kids sent their kids.

Happy Birthday Olive!

 

virtual-music-conference

The good folks at Fun Music Co. are hosting the Virtual Music Education Conference again this year, and the line up of speakers looks pretty interesting.

You get to hear from one of the world’s top education speakers, Todd Whitaker, who will be presenting, “What Great Teachers Do Differently”, and Janice from Fun Music Co. will share a few tips on applying these ideas to the general music classroom. The conference will also feature a top neuroscientist researching music education, Dr. Nina Kraus, and include music education experts like Artie Almeida, John Jacobson and ‘Standard of Excellence’ band book series author, Bruce Pearson. The conference will also offer hands-on implementation sessions for Garage Band for teaching composition, Ukulele in the classroom, and teaching with Boomwhackers.

Interested in a program guide?
Virtual Music Education Conference 2016 | Program Guide

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