I’m always on the lookout for ideas that will give my students a goal to work towards; a real and relevant reason to practice!
So starting immediately after our upcoming Christmas Recital we’re heading directly into this new project. Check it out… try it yourself!
6 Songs in 6 minutes
Check out the following video to get a better idea of this project. He has blended 40 of the latest pop hits into one fabulous montage (40 songs in 14 minutes).
My students will be doing a smaller version of this project – 6 songs in 6 minutes. But they won’t just be playing the songs… they’ll be learning how to create the chording for each of them. It’s create your own lead sheet time at my studio!
Making a Montage of Awesome Music
Making a montage is a ton of fun… and with the pop songs of today it’s laughably easy… there’s not a heck of a lot of variety in the chord choices artists are using! Here’s how to start:
1. Have your student choose 6 of their favourite pieces either from the radio or by having them listen to this video and select the ones they know well.
2. One piece at a time choose the “hook” – this is either the chorus, the introduction, the main riff… whatever makes you instantly recognize that piece. Keeping each song in the key of C, guide them through finding the melody line. Notate it on staff paper with just a treble clef line (how handy… I have it for you here!) Resist the urge to write too much of the song. You just want a little hook that makes people say “Hey! I know that song!”
3. After notating the Right Hand melody, it’s time to discuss chording. If your student is familiar with the primary chords this is an easy exercise for them. If they are not, this is the perfect time for a mini-theory lesson… with lots of motivation for them to listen! If you encounter a song that has a chord or two that stump you – check out ultimate-guitar.com; they have all the answers. Write the chords above your melody line as you would a lead sheet.
4. A carefully placed ritardando and a solo chord or two is all you need to bridge the gap between your songs during the montage.
Encourage your students to add their own twist to each of the songs – change up what they do with the left hand chording, change up the octaves… have fun with it!
A montage makes a fantastic show-stopper at a recital and it’s a great way to encourage your teens to perform. It’s also an extreme motivator for those students who need some extra oomph to get practicing. I’m bracing myself for some weeks filled with pop music… and I’m looking forward to the benefits it will bring!
If you’re intrigued by the idea of using lead sheets in your lessons we discuss this in our Piano Teaching Guide “Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers”... actually we discuss a TON in this book. It’s 115 pages jam-packed with the best teaching advice you could ask for. Check it out and see why a teacher wrote to say “Piano Hands is the most inspiring teaching guide I have ever read. The key is in its practicality – exercises and ideas I can implement NOW. I have recently spent quite a bit of money on piano teaching handbooks and guides in search of practical ideas for my studio – NOTHING compares with Piano Hands!”