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!