"Around the World" Piano Theme

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One of my favorite ways to prepare for the new teaching year (or new semester) is choosing a theme and gathering inspiration. Last year, I spent some time planning an "Around the World" theme for my young piano students (inspired by a children's choir curriculum I created a few years ago). So fun! See my inspiration board here.

Pack your bags and join us for an exciting musical journey around the world! This year, students will discover new skills and musical concepts, hear and play new music, and experience the language of music in a rich environment. At the end of the year, children will have suitcases full of new skills and experiences from their musical travels!

Here are a few fun activities for beginning piano students:

Travel buddies

This is a great way to introduce duet-playing from the very beginning! Each student plays one hand of a short piece or exercise. Use this activity to practice sight-playing, transposing, and technique, especially articulation and dynamics.

Musical postcards

Write postcards from your travels! Ask students to respond to the following: Which piece is your favorite? What do you like about it? What is your favorite part of piano lessons? What is your least favorite part? Where do you hear music—at home? In the car? What kind of music do you like to listen to? What kind of music do your parents like to listen to?

Souvenir concerts

One of the best parts of visiting new places is collecting souvenirs! At the end of each semester, students create special pieces for a "souvenir concert." Here are two examples:

-  Create an eight-bar piece in F or G major and 3/4 meter. Use quarter rests and 5ths. Give your piece a name and draw a picture that tells us more about it.

-  Create an eight-bar piece called "Airplane" using notes that (a) repeat, (b) step up, or (c) step down. Use the words, "We are flying, up and away! Soaring in the clouds all day!"

Here are a few repertoire ideas for an end-of-the-year recital:

Take Off (Music Tree, Time to Begin)
Landing (Music Tree, Time to Begin)
Alouette (Faber & Faber, Primer)
Russian Sailor Dance (Faber & Faber, Primer)
Elephant Ride (Faber & Faber, Primer)
Ship Ahoy! (Music Tree, Time to Begin)
King George V (Music Tree, Time to Begin)
Bells of Great Britain (Faber & Faber, Primer)
Spanish Guitars (Music Tree, Part 1)
Fiesta (Music Tree, Part 1)
My Piano Trip to London [book] (Elena Cobb)

For pre-readers and/or brand new students, have them create an improvisation on the black keys (with you or an older student accompanying) and give it a programmatic title.

Happy travels!