Connecting piano students to their music is a powerful tool for encouraging regular practice. But getting kids to care about music written long before they were born requires effort. They will not always have an instant connection to the classics.
Fortunately, exploring the “back story” behind famous pieces and their composers can help encourage connections to music.
My piano students and I build the musical “back story” of a piece by gathering bits of interesting information about the life of the composer, the genre of music to which the piece belongs and the historical events that were happening in the world when the piece was composed. It’s like providing a “movie trailer”; setting the scene and establishing the characters.
So how do you gather effective Back Stories and encourage your piano students to explore the history behind their pieces? Check out our ideas below which also includes a brand new Composer Trading Card Set!
How To Explore the Stories Behind The Pieces
1. Choose a “piece of the week” that you feel is important for your piano students to recognize. Post it to your Facebook wall (a link to a YouTube video etc.) and your studio wall, send it home on assignment sheets, and play it as your students enters their lessons. At the end of each month, play “Name That Tune” in lesson time with all 4 pieces you explored during the past month.
2. Encourage live music outings by organizing field trips to attend the local symphony or other performances (often group rates make a big difference in admission fees). Nothing can replace the experience of live music.
3. Create a monthly group piano class that explores the music of a designated composer; play themed games, listen to the composer’s music, and put on piano performances.
4. Have your students write a “Did you know?” fact at the top of their page of music so they feel a connection with the composers or the history behind the music. Brush up on your own “composer knowledge” to be able to share interesting stories with your students when the opportunity arises.
5. Find engaging picture books about composers and leave them in your studio waiting area to encourage exploration (check out Amazon).
6. Host a studio-wide “Crafty Composer Contest” to see who can create the most unique composer portrait using craft supplies. Display them in your studio or at your recital and have parents vote to choose a winner.
7. Use today’s Composer Trading Cards which you can add to your ever-growing collection (see below for more cards).
More Composer Trading Cards!
Our Composer Trading Cards are an easy way to quickly add music history to your regular lessons. Grab some trading card page protectors, print out our cards double-sided on card stock, and have your students fill in the information on the back of each!
We’ve previously released composer trading cards for J.S. Bach, Beethoven, and our female composer card set (Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach).
You can find today’s set and all of the other previously-released sets in the Growing With WunderKeys Toolkit.