Hallowe'en Music

Hallowe'en is such a great time of year.  It lends character to the colder, darker time of late October. I always want to teach my students Hallowe'en music the way I do Christmas and Hanukkah music - but there really isn't a lot of traditional Hallowe'en Music.

Last year I composed some spooky pieces for my beginner students and they really enjoyed them. Dissonance that they often find jarring and unpleasant is a lot more palatable when it is wrapped up in the eeriness of Hallowe'en.

This year I am composing a little more for the season, but I have also looked through my many books of music and found some really terrific pieces which can be taught either by rote or from the score depending upon the particular student:

Just a Little Boo by Janet Vogt from Piano Discoveries Level 1A is a lot of fun for students since it has really bouncy staccatos and blocked fifths. Very easy by rote for fairly new learners though the fifths can be challenging for smaller, unpracticed hands. It is also an easy read.

Hallowe'en Witch by William Gillock from Accent on Solos Level 1 is a wonderful introduction, for the beginning pianist, to the minor sound. It uses only the notes of the A minor pentascale divided between the hands; and though it is notated in Middle C position the Left Hand fingers can easily be changed. This piece teaches the "stepping down and up" pattern in the Right Hand, and "zig-zags" in the left. It is tuneful and very manageable rhythmically.

Little Monster by Billie Ferrell from Solos Now (Primer Level) is a really neat piece for students who like to explore sound. I say this because the piece really lends itself to improvisation since the text for the Right Hand is quite sparse. The Left Hand has almost exclusively blocked fifths throughout on C, F, G, and Bb. These movements, and the fact that I encourage improv, lead me to teach this piece by rote - and perhaps I will make up some words!

Giggling Goblins by Janet Vogt from Piano Discoveries Level 1A is great for coordination, staccato, contrary motion, dynamic contrasts, and 4ths. I think I might make up some words for this piece for the rote learners.

Hallowe'en Pranks by Boris Berlin from TheABC of Piano Playing, 3 is a piece that I teach very successfully by rote since it is all on the black keys. It is very good preparation for the learning of 8th notes. As well it has a lot of dynamic variety that is a lot of fun for the students.

The Famous Haunted House by Lynn Freeman Olson is a really clever piece with a lot of rhythmic interest created by the rests. A good introduction to Dal Segno al fine. A lot of exciting dynamic variety. I teach this by rote and it provides good preparation for dotted rhythms. Kids love the crunchy seconds!

Owl at Midnight by William Gillock from Accent on Solos Level 2 is a little more advanced than the previous selections. It is good preparation for 6ths. There are a lot of dynamic contrasts as well as crescendi and diminuendi. Hands alternate and play together, so a great piece for coordination. This is easy to teach by rote to a younger player but is not too difficult a read for those who are getting comfortable with accidentals.

Hallowe'en Night by Linda Niamath from All Year Round is a great introduction to the diminished 7th sound. It has a few challenges in terms of the notes, but once the student understands the pattern in the last line things should go smoothly. It is a good piece for pedalling, dynamics,  and articulation.

I hope you all have fun with this music! Have a great Hallowe'en!


It's Time to Rediscover the Piano

A lot of people tell me that they used to play the piano. Some have fond memories of working towards and receiving their RCM Grade 8. Others talk of mean teachers and hating lessons. Some insist that now they couldn't play a note even though they used to play well. Over the years I have run into very few adults however, who say they are glad that they quit piano.

I think this is because there is something really satisfying about playing the piano. It nourishes the mind, heart, and spirit. It requires some real effort - but in the end you have beauty. 

Come and rediscover the piano! I am teaching a group class for lapsed adult players on Wednesday evenings at 7:30. During these classes we will look at things like: repertoire, practice strategies, duets, improvisation and overcoming long-standing hurdles. I am hoping that these classes will offer inspiration, motivation and new perspectives.


New season at the COC

Free noon hour concerts COC

I'm pretty excited, are you? Here's the NEW SEASON programme.
Don't forget to free noon-hour concerts, as well.  Line up early!

Today is a good day to start practicing

There is no time like the present. Seize the day. Just do it. Mantras to motivate that have been around for a long time - especially the second one.

I sometimes find it hard to start practising, but once I start it's really easy to just keep going. I am like that with exercise too. I will procrastinate going for a walk, but then don't want to stop once I start. 

If you go and play piano right now - even for a few minutes - you will feel inspired. If you make that choice everyday, in a month you will rock.

Inertia is a powerful force - especially when trying to change or adopt a new habit. The couch is so seductive that even though you might want to do something different, the lure of "just another episode" is overwhelmingly strong. Fight the power.

Playing the piano can stave off a slew of neurological problems. It also gives you something new to post about.

Hello and welcome

This is a first post to say hello
Glad you could drop by to visit we are still under construction. Come back soon.
Anita Beaty