Make this an October tradition in your studio

Grab your students’ attention with this slick seasonal resource and activate their musical imaginations. This catalog of “spooky puzzle pieces” promises to spark their creativity beyond the page. After they choose a favorite “creepy” idea or two, your students will be equipped to design their own Halloween hit!

Why a catalog of ideas?

An empty music rack or blank staff paper offer little in the inspiration department. That’s why it’s good to default to a printed page full of ideas and options.

Seeing how to manipulate chords and generate melodies through notated examples can magically energize creativity. Inviting your students to make choices from these limited options will

  • Avoid the paralyzing state of choice overload
  • Let students take charge of the creative process
  • Empower them to dream up original ideas.

Why a tune like Twinkle?

It’s best to begin with a well-known tune like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” because it’s familiar and easy to learn. Then you can spend more time with various ways to change it up and echo the spirit (pun intended!) of the Halloween season.

Make this a studio-wide and annual challenge. Pianists at almost any level can play “Twinkle” and can find ways to modify it and morph it into a “Twinkle with a Twist.” My catalog features suggestions. I challenge you and your students to add many more!

“Twinkle Twinkle Creepy Star” or “Haunted Haunted Spooky Moon” are just two titles that come to mind for this experience but, the sky’s the limit—literally!

What if my students don’t like or know how to improvise?

Some of your students may simply transpose the tune to a minor key and call it good–that’s a step away from the page and it counts.

Others may go crazy with the ideas provided in the catalog of examples. Every student is different. Don’t push it too much and let creativity come naturally.

Think of yourself as one who gives your students the permission to move away from the page and explore their original ideas. Some may not enthusiastically tune into this approach immediately.

The fact that they’ve been granted permission to regularly and systematically stray from the page will keep them from the paralyzing fear that most page-only players experience away from the score as they grow older. Some day, they will thank you!

How does this work?

Follow the carefully sequenced steps in the resource with your students and let their creativity run wild (or stay pretty tame for the time being.) Enjoy the exploration process with them.

Make sure to try this out yourself! Here’s my Twinkle with a twist…

Why make this a tradition?

Revisiting this project from year to year will put students at ease because they know what to expect. Every year, they’ll be able to witness how their technique, improvisation and creative skills have improved. To document this, make sure to take videos of their arrangements from year to year. Oh, and feel free to share them with me–I’d love to see them!

“Twinkle with a Twist” is available HERE

Have a “spooktacular” time and let me know how it goes in your studio!

-Leila

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

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