When it is their birthday, their card from me has the letter names for how to play Happy Birthday. You can also use this for when it is one of their parent’s birthdays, they love to prepare that for them to show off at the end of lesson.!
Glenda Austin’s “Bravo Brasilia” duet (intermediate level) published by Willis was a whole lot of fun for one of my teen students and me. Highly recommend it!!!
I needed a fun and exciting piece for a 5th grade girl who wanted to play in the talent show. It had also had to be one that was simple enough to learn fairly quickly. Masked Rider by Melody Bober has been perfect! She loves the register changes, rhythms and dynamics of the piece. It is especially exciting with the teacher duet!!
Definitely any piece by Joe Hisaishi! Kikujiro’s Summer is usually the pick of my students. It’s suitable for intermediate level. My teenage and college students love playing it! It’s one of those pieces children and adults would love!
“Time Travel” by Mona Rejino is an early intermediate piece. Written in 4/4 time, it has a 3+3+2 feel; very rhythmic. It is a perfect piece for boys who like to play fast!!
One piano piece that usually gets the boys excited is the very simple Star Wars arrangement in the Primer Piano Adventures popular book. The boys love learning something ‘cool’. I am also looking forward to trying out the Fearless Fortissimo book!
Copy Cat by Adelle Alford Thompson. It’s a novelty piece in the 60 Progressive Pieces book.
It uses only finger 3, keeping the hands rounded. When mastered it goes quickly, right hand doubling the left at the eighth note, much of it scale-wise. Sparkling and showy when mastered.
Get it While it’s Hot!
The Flaming Tambourine by Lynn Freeman Olson
There is this piece called sonatina piccolina, from gmajortheory.com it used to be free, but not it is for sale, anyway this piece is very cool… It has 3 movements and it sounds more complicated than it is and it stays in a 5 finger fixed hand position for every 2 lines… I have a copy of it although i am not sure if it still allowed to share?
Here’s a Bunch!
Robert Vandall’s: Swing It! Students hear it and can’t wait to play it. I enjoy a lot of Vandall’s music because he comes up with interesting melodic patterns and then transposes them, changes the dynamics, elides, etc., so we can talk about composition techniques as well as learn some fun stuff. Bats In The Belfry is another of his that is a cute piece.For the more robust who want a nice challenge, Stephen Heller’s L’Avelanche.
No Groaning Allowed!
Well, this one is an oldie but goodie and you may even groan but my one hit wonder is the good old “Fur Elise”.Every student wants to learn this and I teach all versions. I’m not one that says you can’t play something until you can play the full version. I think if it’s something that is going to motivate them now, then find a version that is do-able for their level and motivate them now.
Melody Bober is my go-to motivational music. My girls love Crystal Palace.
With Adele… You can’t lose!
I have girls in a primer level who love Adele. I took the chorus of “Set Fire to the Rain” and altered it in Finale so that it was easy enough for them to play.
Great for Recitals
Ride the Wind by Melody Bober. It’s a great motivating piece for the industrious late elementary piano student! This song, full of cascading runs, makes for a great recital showpiece.
A Touch of Mary Poppins
This may sound weird… but strangely, “Supercalifragilistic” is a hit with ALL my students! I’ve tried it for age groups 7 till 13 and they all absolutely love it! Especially if you add singing to the mix.
Beautiful and Minor
Fur Alina by Arvo Part. Simple yet very impressive and beautiful piece in minor mode. All ages. Around level 2 – for students who have been learning for half a year to a year or more. Publisher: Universal Edition.
Jazzy by Robert Vandall — no black keys, multi-page, easy to teach mostly by rote for those who have difficulty reading, not hard to play but sounds tricky. Always a hit!
I love the Martha Mier Jazz, Rags, and Blues books. All of my students seem to enjoy playing the pieces.
The Pink Panther
The Pink Panther! Famous and Fun Pop Book 3, Alfred. Level 3, all ages!
Spinning Song by Albert Ellmenreich is wonderful for early intermediate students! I use the Alfred books, and the students who do well with this are usually toward the end of Level 2. It’s a fun, impressive-sounding piece when played well (so definitely demonstrate it to the student). It’s also relatively easy to learn in a short amount of time, because it’s only two pages long and has repeated themes. A great piece for encouraging a student to begin to play by memory, as well. Students are always very proud of what they’ve learned in a short time with this one.
Linus and Lucy
Linus & Lucy by Vince Guaraldi is a hit every time. The version I use the most is about a grade 3 level from “a Charlie Brown Christmas” book for easy piano, published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, however it was published in 1970.
Cristofori’s Dream by David Lanz, Nara Music Inc. For advanced intermediate/early high school. Beautiful piece in 6/8 time. A theme is presented in many variations including challenging octaves section. Students LOVE this piece.
Fountain in the Rain
My students respond well to solo pieces by Wm. Gillock. Two of their favorites are: Fountain in the Rain (intermediate level) and Day Dreams (elementary). Willis Music Co.
The Caterpillar Is So Slow
The kids love “The Caterpillar is so Slow” by Dianna Denley. It’s not particularly difficult, but it has some fun harmonic effects. I usually pull it out sometime between Piano Adventures level 2A and 3A, depending on the student.
Movie music always works, or better still helping them do a Jazz version of some Bach.
Jams by Kevin Olson
One of my favorite supplements for improvisation is a book called Performance Jams by Kevin Olson (FJH Music Co.). Written for early elementary, the patterns are simple enough that my students are able to start playing with it as soon as they have learned where all the Cs are, with a deeper understanding of the concepts as they progress. The jazzy teacher accompaniments are fun for both teacher and student at every level, as well as the jazzy background accompaniment CD for elementary level students.
Make It Pop
I go to the numerous “pop” books out there for easy piano, (most of my students are relatively new players), look for some that are at their level, play it for them with enthusiasm… and voila! Everyone is happy!
Your Choice of Four
1. Early Elem.: Hal Leonard Piano Solos 1
2. Elem.: Hal Leonard Piano Solos 2, Jazz Starters I-II, Dennis Alexander’s Finger Paintings 1-3.
3. Early-Intermediate: Robt. Vandall’s Take Note bk 2-3; V. Labenski’s Piano Miniatures, 4. Christopher Norton’s Connections series.
New Age Piano
I love to pull out the New Age piano books by Jeanine Yeager. Published by Kjos, there are at least 5 levels. The preparatory level is accessible by most level 1 students. My students love the pieces because they use lots of pedal and sound ethereal. I love them because they sound more difficult than they really are, so my students impress their friends/ family with ease! These are definite ego boosters!
Drink Milk, Love Life
I usually pull out popular songs or even popular classical songs. One favourite in my group classes is Ode To Joy. I call it the “drink milk love life” song from the commercial.
The Choice Is Yours
When I write the monthly newsletter, I include a list of some pieces of music for each level that I have in the studio – from Yankee Doodle, to Fur Elise etc. and the students can choose from the list – for a new song or songs to try. Sometimes these are new songs I’ve collected throughout the month or just highlighting ones I’ve had. Works great and students get to choose their music (apart from the curriculum music).
The Faber’s “Popular” Books
When my students have started to master playing with two hands, my go-to book is the Faber & Faber “popular” book. It has Superman, Over the Rainbow, etc. The kids really enjoy it.
Dmitri Kabalevsky’s Toccatina is definitely a great piece – lots of repeating patterns in it. Good for early intermediate students.
Chopsticks… No Joke!
Believe it or not Chopsticks! Something so simple turns on every kid I see ages 4-9. There is a super easy graphic version free on GMajormusictheory.com that is awesome for beginners
Video Game Master
Video Game Master by Melody Bober. Boys especially like the title. It’s fast, repeated descending phrase. Left hand has 5-1 changing chord patterns. ABA form w/coda
Celebrated Piano Solos
Celebrated Piano Solos by Robert Vandall. I’ve used books 1 and 2 for Late Elementary to Early Intermediate pianists. “Thumper” and “Hurry Scurry” are favorites!
This is not really new or amazing but it might help someone. I ordered a bunch of Halloween sheet music last September and my students spent the whole month of October learning them. They loved the spooky, mysterious sounds and that they had something to show off for their friends for Halloween. Simple, but effective!
Star Wars… Of Course!
Any version of Star Wars is a hit with my kids. It is in the Faber level 1 pop repertoire book and also there is one in the Alfred 1B popular pieces book.
Jazz, Rags, and Blues
I like to use Martha Meir’s ‘Jazz, Rags and Blues’. It has a nice assortment of livelier pieces that the boys love. Suitable for Grade 1+.