Let’s face it… some music is boring. Now what I find boring may be completely different from what you find boring… but the point is, everyone finds some music boring.
And it’s no different for your young piano students.
What inspires one student will most certainly cause dread, sighs, and rolled-eyes for another. Obviously choosing exciting repertoire is key… but sometimes exam or competition requirements restrict your choices. So what is a piano teacher to do if a “boring” piece of music just can’t be avoided?
Keep reading as we share our 7 strategies for turning boring music into brilliant fun!
The Boring-to-Brilliant Cheat Sheet
1. Build a story around the music. We’ve talked about the importance of this before in past posts, but it simply had to be reiterated in strategy 1.
Too often music is boring because kids (especially our younger ones) feel absolutely no connection to the music. But, build a story around that music, and you’ll see an instant modification to their motivation!
2. Make the music visually appealing. If the music can’t hold its own, create some visual appeal on the page. Illustrating the story (as in strategy #1) in the header of the piece is always a good little motivator for your piano students.
And what about comic bubbles that we talked about in this post? They can be creative and colourful AND deliver an educational message all at the same time.
3. Over-emphasize dynamics. The most exciting piano pieces are filled with emotion. One way to generate a little added emotion is to over-emphasize the dynamics within a piece. Kids think exaggeration is funny… try it!
4. Find creative ways to turn the piano piece into a game. Try cutting out black strips of paper large enough to cover a measure or two of music. Place these strips on different measures throughout the music. Challenge your piano students to play through the piece, from start to finish and without skipping the covered measures. An activity like this spices the piece up while reinforcing memorization.
5. Move the piece up an octave.. or two… or three! When practicing a piece it doesn’t always have to be played exactly as it’s written. Have your piano students play the piece on the highest and lowest octaves possible to discover where they think the music sounds best.
6. Speed the tempo up, slow the tempo down. Challenge your piano students to play the piece as quickly as possible (while still paying attention to the rhythm) and I guarantee their faces will light up. And, I bet they’ll be equally giddy to slow that piece down. There’s no harm in messing with the tempo if a piece gets a little stale… if anything, piano students could use a few more speed control exercises.
7. Replace a few measures of music with rhythm only. Choose a few bars of music and have your piano students knock the rhythm on the fallboard rather than playing the notes on the keys when they reach the chosen areas. The piece becomes instantly entertaining when sections of music are interrupted with a rap-a-tap-tap!
Our Favorite Strategy Is…
Storytelling of course! If your piano students have experienced The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo, then you know that we love to tie an exciting story into the music we write. You can learn more about our Fearless Fortissimo series by checking it out here.