For children, birthdays are the most important days of the year. They start their countdowns months in advance as they dream about what it will be like to be 9, 10, or 11. And when their birthdays finally arrive they bask in the glory of their own celebrations.
When my piano students have upcoming birthdays, I do my best to create mini-celebrations by remembering to ask about their party plans, giving them small goody bags during their “Birthday Week Lessons” and sending them cards in the mail. And now, after a reader of the TeachPianoToday blog recently posted on Facebook asking for a Birthday Lesson Improv, I have another fun activity to add to piano lesson birthday celebrations! Thanks Kelly R 🙂
Today we’re sharing my printable improv activity that can be used with your young students to celebrate their “Birthday Week” piano lessons. Simply print it out and have it ready to go the next time a piano student announces, “It’s only 142 days until my Birthday!”
Nuts About Birthdays Improv Printable
We all know the “Happy Birthday” song, but what if your piano students could create their very own “Happy Birthday To Me” pieces? With this printable, your birthday students will get to bebop along to their very own “four-hands, one-piano” celebratory songs… all the while reinforcing rhythm and inspiring creativity and freedom on the keys.
The process is simple:
- Print (double-sided) the Nuts About Birthdays Improv Pack found at the bottom of the post.
- Have your piano students practice saying and clapping the Nuts About Birthdays phrases on the back of the improv cards. These phrases provide the rhythm your students will be using when they participate in the improv duet. Note: If you have creative kiddos who want more freedom, we have included two blank cards that can be used to create their own phrases/rhythms.
- Have your students choose their two favorite Nuts About Birthdays improv cards.
- With their hands in C position, have your students experiment with various combinations of notes (using only C, D, E, F and G) to match the rhythms on the cards selected in Step 3. Encourage them to continue their explorations until they decide on a preferred melodic combination for each card.
- Begin playing your teacher accompaniment. When your students feel ready to hop in, have them begin repeatedly playing one of the melodies they created in Step 4. Encourage your students to add in the second melody from Step 4 when they feel comfortable. Instruct your students to switch back and forth between their two melodies.
- Once your students are jamming away without a care, have them expand on their improv skills by experimenting with more card combinations, extra notes, improv “on the fly”, harmonic intervals or chords, and articulation changes. The sky’s the limit… be creative!
- Have fun with the process and encourage your students to break free and add their own ideas to the duet!
Where To Find The Birthday Improv Pack…
As you know from previous posts, to make our printables easier to find, and to correlate them with our new WunderKeys Primer and Level 1 books that we’ll be releasing later this year, we’ll be putting them up on WunderKeys.com.
Today’s printable has been added to the “Level One” section of our WunderKeys Resource Page.
Click here, or on the activity image below to visit the resource page. And while you’re scooting around, happily downloading all of our printables, be sure to check out the flip-through previews of our re-vamped WunderKeys Piano for Preschoolers books! If you’ve ever considered teaching one-on-one preschool piano lessons these books make it fun and easy for both you and your students!