Am I still cool? I hate that I have to ask myself this question… but as a parent of a pre-teen it’s a reality that I am facing; I may be losing my “coolness”.
But I’m going down swinging.
Having kids and teaching piano are two things that help me keep my finger on what is current. “Keeping up with cool” is a research project that I consider to be an important part of my job; I need to know what’s new and happenin’ (does anyone even say that anymore?… Oh dear).
And while I may not fully understand Snapchat, I do know that improv is something that always gets a thumbs up with piano students (do kids still give thumbs up?!… Sigh). Today we’re sharing a snowboarding improv activity that will help you “keep your cool” over the holiday season or hit the ground running in January!
Keep It Cool With This Snowboarding Improv Duet
Even if you’ve never taught improv before, you’ll be able to grab this activity and begin improvising with your piano students in just a few minutes. All you need is the printable we’re sharing today!
Here’s how it works:
- Print the Snowboarding Improv Package found here.
- Cut out the improv cards.
- Practice “clapping and saying” the rhythms on the improv cards. These “snowboarding lingo” phrases provide the rhythms your students will be using in the improv duet. We have included three blank cards for students who want to create their own rhythms.
- Ask your student to choose two of his favorite improv cards.
- Have your student place his hands in the C Minor 5-Finger Scale and experiment with various melodies (using only C, D, Eb, F and G) to match the two improv cards he selected in Step 4 until he finds a combination that he likes (remember the combinations!)
- Start playing the teacher duet accompaniment. When your student is ready, he can begin playing (in an octave that doesn’t interfere with your part). Start by having him repeat just one of his combinations over and over. When he is comfortable he can then alternate between the two combinations.
- Encourage flexibility! Once your student has the hang of improvising, he can add more rhythm/melody combinations, create his own little riffs, add harmonic intervals, add extra notes, change the rhythms… the sky’s the limit! Simply repeat your duet part over and over as he experiments.
Note: As with any improv there will be some choices that “sound better” than others. And… experimenting with irmpov is a great way to lead into discussions of *why* certain melodies will sound better than others!
More Improvising Activities To Keep You Cool
Adding improv to your teaching is not only cool… it’s important! Improvisation opens the door to creativity and experimentation on the piano, and when you have piano students who create and experiment on the piano you end up with motivated and enthusiastic students who practice! Click on the images below to check out some more of our printable improv activities below: