Do Your Piano Students Have an “Interesting” Taste in Music?

Have you ever watched Toopy and Binoo? It’s a children’s cartoon, and I’m pretty sure it was created to test the limits of my sanity. This is no exaggeration… I dare you to watch an episode!

And yet my daughter, Halle, could watch it for hours. But of course I don’t ever let  her… unless the house is a disaster and I desperately need just 10 minutes to run around like my feet are on fire in an attempt to make it appear as though I’ve got it all under control… but I digress!

Back To That Crazy Mouse

As I was saying, if I hear that crazy mouse hoot through another oddly insane peal of laughter I might lose it, but my daughter laps it up. And of course she does, because no doubt a lot of hard work and research went into creating a cartoon that children (not adults) will love.

Supplementary Repertoire Selection Is No Different!

If you’re like me, asking your piano students to bring in some music that they like to listen to and would like to play can be a dark, mysterious, and sometime frightening journey into the unknown. Now I like to think that I’ve got a pretty good handle on what is cool these days, but even I get a shock once in a while when a student lets me listen to her iPod.  But that’s okay… music for tweens and teens is created for tweens and teens!  What I find appealing isn’t important.

And Shocking Music Is Alright With Me

As long as the shock arises from crazy rhythms or offbeat harmonies, and not from suggestive or vulgar lyrics, I’m willing to let my piano students try anything. It is not up to me to determine what inspires and motivates my piano students; music is too personal to take complete control like that. I know that if my piano students learn to play the music they love, that sooner or later they’ll learn to love the music I play!  

What popular music is trending in your piano studios right now?  Share in the comment section below!

14 Responses to Do Your Piano Students Have an “Interesting” Taste in Music?

  1. says

    I recently got the sheet music of the following for one tween who begged for it:

    – we are never ever getting back together, Taylor swift
    – live while we’re young, one direction
    – and another Taylor swift song. Really don’t get the Taylor swift thing, but hey, if it makes them practice and enjoy the instrument …!

  2. says

    One Direction! They watch the Piano Guys playing their song. They watch each other play the songs. The watch the video of each other playing their songs.

  3. Rebecca says

    I tend to watch the Billboard 100 every other week to stay ahead. Recent ones we’ve worked on: Calvin Harris, “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia, “Diamonds” by Rihanna, fun. and Imagine Dragons – along with One Direction, Taylor Swift and Maroon 5.
    And then I have a lucky few students who like the same music as me: Spoon, Matt & Kim, Mika, and Ben Folds Five.

  4. Kim Wright says

    I have a student playing Corridors of Time from Chrono Trigger. It has 4 staffs (staves). Needless to say, it is STRETCHING me! The music really is beautiful, even though it is from a video game! I had to study up on it and watch a guy on You Tube play it over and over! Then I read the guy’s comments on how to teach it……whew!

  5. says

    I second the motion of Adele and Taylor Swift. I think almost every one of my students is currently learning Skyfall:)

    Thank goodness the Rap artist requests left along with one my graduated students……. those where/are the worst!

  6. says

    Agree about all of the NEW songs. I have several songs, very popular songs that have been skinnied down from their originals but the kids who are most likely to not want to play the study books and supposedly popular songs that are written for them in study books are at around the 2B level, they want the pop music and don’t yet have the skills yet. The only music I can get ahold of are intermediate levels no matter who has worked on them, and seriously, I don’t have the time to do all the stipping down to basic of the songs out there, I also don’t have the software and don’t want to get it since Sibilius has decided to not back their product anymore. So, any ideas???

  7. Emily says

    I get a lot of Taylor Swift, Direction and Adele too, but as a 19 year old piano teacher, i love those artists myself! except Adele.

  8. Alice says

    Taylor Swift; it’s the 7-11 year old girls. Last year it was Adele.
    A 16 year old girl has played several pieces from D-Grayman–anime.
    A 10-11 year old boy has figured out all the themes from the Zelda game,
    and now is learning one by reading. I can’t keep up with the popular genres, and wish I could.

  9. Judy says

    I have had students bring in popular music and then we don’t really know where to find piano arrangements. It’s frustrating to have them come with VOCAL/ Piano arrangements with 3 staffs (staves!) — too confusing for them. Help?

  10. Elizabeth says

    for Geneva: Level 2B is a great level to be working with them on lead sheets! By this time they are familiar with I IV and V7 chords in few different keys, and they seem to love the independence of figuring out the left hand. Try wikifonia as a resource; it is apparently legal and has a good selection. The site can also transpose the lead sheets for you, so that you can pick an easy/familiar key, or a key in which you want to challenge your student. I often white out the chord symbols so that they have to figure things out for themselves. An added benefit is that they get to see their theory concepts in action.

    You might still have to edit rhythm and supply fingering, but it’s a lot less work than trying to make your own simplification. I use Forte music notation software to rewrite if I need to; it’s a lot more economical than some of the bigger programs, and they also have a free version available online.

    More benefits…the lead sheets get them out of the “hand position” rut, expose them to more accidentals, and let them practice more complicated rhythms. The kids are so motivated by playing something they chose that they hardly notice how hard they are working or how much they are learning! (insert evil laugh here)

  11. Mary says

    I draw the line at vulgarity and explicit lyrics. My students know that and we usually find an appropriate alternative that keeps them happy and I don’t have to read the garbage between the staves while they play.

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