Do your piano students struggle to find comfort when playing in 3/4 time? If so, they’re not alone! Playing in 3/4 time can be a learning hiccup for many young students… but it’s not their fault!
Turn on the radio and it’s rare you’ll find a waltz blasting through the airwaves. Our students are bombarded daily with music written in 4/4 time. With so few “radio airplay” tunes written in 3/4 time, it can, therefore, be difficult for them to play in this time signature as their aural familiarity is lacking. The result is a generation of students who add an extra beat into every measure or who struggle with fluency in 3/4 time.
So today we’re sharing an printable improv activity that you can use to help your young piano students gain comfort playing in 3/4 time. By removing any note-reading obstacles in favor of improvised melodies on top of a waltzing teacher duet, our activity allows your students to be “in the moment”; feeling that 1-2-3, 1-2-3 beat in a natural and organic way. You’ll likely find them swaying along on the bench… and that’s exactly what they need to do!
The Chocolate Waltz: 3/4 Time Piano Improv Activity
If you’ve never taught improv before, the ease of this activity will have you reaching for this activity time and time again; simply follow the instructions below to have some 3/4 fun in lessons this week.
- Download the Easter Improv Package found here.
- Cut out the improv cards.
- Practice “clapping and saying” the rhythms on the improv cards. These “Easter” 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 her favorite improv cards.
- Have your student place her hands in the C Major 5-Finger Scale and experiment with various melodies (using only C, D, E, F and G) to match the two improv cards she selected in Step 4, until she finds a combination that she likes (remember the combinations!)
- Start playing the teacher duet accompaniment. When your student is ready, she can begin playing (in an octave that doesn’t interfere with your part). Start by having her repeat just one of her combinations over and over. When she is comfortable she can then alternate between the two combinations.
- Encourage flexibility! Once your student has the hang of improvising, she can add more rhythm/melody combinations, create her 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 she experiments.
Note: As with any improvisation there are certain combinations of rhythm and melody that will sound better than others. Experimentation is key – and a discussion of *why* some melodies sound better than others is a built-in, in-context theory lesson!
Try Some More Music Fun For Primer Piano Students
Did you recognize the rabbit in today’s Easter Improv Duet? It’s Ruby… and she’s one of the stars in our WunderKeys Primer Piano method books. If you haven’t had a chance to discover why piano students are begging to learn with WunderKeys then check out our Primer Piano Books here and stay tuned for the release of WunderKeys Primer Piano Book 3 in just a few short weeks!