Have your elementary-level piano students fallen in love with Improv Alister yet?
Improv Alister is the music-munching alligator that’s the star of our newest release from PianoBookClub… The Unfortunate Appetite of Improv Alister: Sink your Teeth Into Beginning Improv.
If you’ve had a chance to use this laugh-out-loud resource, then you know it’s an incredible tool for teaching elementary-level students to improvise. The 8 pieces in this book combine the familiar structure of solo repertoire with the freedom of improv in a way that sets your students up for success (even if you’ve never taught improvisation before).
And now, with the Improv Alister Expansion Pack that we’re sharing today, not only will this book work wonders for elementary-level students, but even the littlest kiddos in your piano studio can have a blast being creative on the keys by turning these 8 solos into teacher-student improv duets!
Note: The Unfortunate Appetite of Improv Alister was February 2016’s Book of the Month from PianoBookClub. To see this month’s book visit PianoBookClub.com.
Here Is The Improv Alister Expansion Pack!
The expansion pack (click here to download) contains Improv Cards that can be used to help your early elementary students improv along with any tune from The Unfortunate Appetite of Improv Alister. It’s easy and it’s fun! All you need to remember is to place your students’ hands in the 5-Finger scale specified at the top of the page.
Here’s how the Improv Expansion Pack Works…
- Print, laminate and cut out the Improv Cards from the expansion pack.
- Read the story from The Unfortunate Appetite of Improv Alister.
- Choose a piece from the book to create your “improv duet”. (Note: make sure the piece you choose is in 4/4 time.)
- Have your student select any Improv Card.
- Together, read the phrase on the back of the card and determine its corresponding rhythm. For example, one of the cards contains the phrase “Pour some ginger tea”. This becomes four eighth notes and a half note. The rhythm associated with each phrase must equal a total of four beats.
- Write the rhythm you create above the phrase on the card and then practice clapping this rhythm with your student.
- Have your student practice playing this rhythm in the appropriate 5-finger scale. She can experiment by playing her choice of any keys within that 5-finger scale… but must always keep the same rhythm.
Now it’s time to begin the improv duet!
Note: During the piece, your student will play the selected rhythm (from above) each time there is a missing measure (indicated by Alister’s chew marks). Remember, your student can play any keys in the selected position, so long as the rhythm remains the same. Be sure to signal to your student when it is her turn to play.
- Make sure your student’s fingers are in the correct position in an octave that will not interfere with your teacher part.
- Begin playing the selected piece.
- When you reach a measure of missing melody, signal to your student that it is her turn to play the rhythm (from above). Continue playing the left hand accompaniment as she improvises on top.
- Play through to the end of the piece with your student “improvising” each time there is a missing measure.
- Encourage your student to change the melody with each new missing measure (while keeping the rhythm the same).
- After a successful run-through, have your student select a new card and repeat the process with the same piece or with a different piece.
We hope you have a blast using this expansion pack to explore improvisation with the youngest students in your piano studio! And, we hope your older students are getting the chance to “sink their teeth” into some delicious improv solos 😉