If you’re like me, then there’s nothing better than watching two of your students create awesome music together. There’s just something fabulous about seeing even the youngest of children collaborate and enjoy music-making together.
Maybe it’s the fact that piano can be such a solitary instrument. Or maybe it’s because piano duets are just so aurally satisfying. Whatever the reason, duets in your studio can be a fabulous teaching tool and are something that can really boost the enthusiasm of your students.
How To Make Duets Actually Work; Avoiding The Struggle
For some students who have never played with a partner before, a duet pairing can rapidly become a complete disaster. And because complete disasters are often discouraging, you’d probably like to avoid this from happening.
Check out our 4 Tips for Successful Piano Student Duets below.. and be sure to check out the link at the bottom where we’re giving away a really cute sibling duet too!
1. Teach your students to count in on their own. A successful duet starts with a coordinated entrance. Practice having your students count in and and then just playing the first few notes of the piece. Practice this over and over and over until it’s completely syncronized. So many students depend on a teacher to count them in and can be like a fish out of water once the teacher isn’t there to fulfill his or her counting duties.
2. Teach your students to listen to their partner. Duet partners need to be able to listen as they play to know if they need to pause, slow down or catch up to their partner if something goes wrong mid-performance.
You can play many different games to teach this ability, but my favorite is “Tag you’re it!”. I stand behind my students and quietly tap one of them on the shoulder as they play. This signals that they are to either slow down, stop or speed up. It is their partner’s job to match them. A second tap means return to normal and the process is repeated until the piece is over.
3. Teach your students to sense their partner’s dynamics, phrasing etc. This is tied in with learning to listen as you play, but so much of what we sense about dynamics and phrasing comes from our partner’s body movements as well. Learning to not only listen, but also watch and sense a duet partner’s movement will allow your students to better match dynamics and phrasing (and entrances).
4. Teach your students to find their “Safety zones” and give each a name so that mid-way through a performance one can whisper “start at ___” and they both know what that means. Practice calling out “stop!” and having them choose the appropriate safety zone on the fly. These come in handy as it eliminates any sort of discussion that may happen when something goes wrong and a seamless re-entry or re-start can happen quickly.
The Perfect Opportunity To Try These Tips Out
Because we love duets and because duets with siblings are often much easier to coordinate than they are with non-related students, today we’re giving you the sheet music to a cute little duet designed for a student at approximately Level 2 and a student at approximately Level 1 in the hopes that you can use it with a sibling pairing at those levels (or a pairing of two great friends!) in your studio.
Love our fun take on supplementary repertoire? Try out PianoBookClub and receive an entire book of music every month (with unlimited photocopying/printing rights) for just $8!