15 Ways to Celebrate National Piano Month

15 Fun Ways to Celebrate National Piano Month

15 Ways to Celebrate National Piano Month

 

Love all things piano? Whether you dabble on the keys in your spare time, spend hours on the bench practicing to become the next virtuoso, teach piano for a living, or simply enjoy listening to Beethoven’s best, we can all agree — the piano is an amazing instrument!

From jazz hits to classical, heavy metal covers to even rap and hip-hop that sample piano, there are practically no limits to what you can explore on the piano.

So now it’s time to celebrate, with September 1st marking the start of National Piano Month, a holiday started in 1991 by the National Piano Foundation. Ready to celebrate with us? Here are some ideas…

  1. Learn about the history of the piano, in this comprehensive series from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  2. Check out different types of pianos, in this interactive online museum.
  3. Get creative with these kid-friendly craft ideas for your piano room.
  4. Try something new in your practice routine with these fun ways to practice scales.
  5. Join the piano community in laughing at these 15 struggles piano players know all too well!
  6. Having trouble with a tough piece? Try this fun piano exercise to get back on track.
  7. Spend some time learning a musical genre you may not be super familiar with —  for example, get familiar with ragtime!
  8. Challenge yourself to improve your music-reading speed.
  9. Learn a new song with these 8 awesome YouTube piano tutorials.
  10. Test your knowledge of modern-day songs that borrow from classical pieces (even Dave Matthews and Weezer!).
  11. Check out our infographic to find out if your child is ready to begin piano lessons!
  12. Step outside your comfort zone and spice up your piano practice with something new.
  13. Consider getting involved in a piano competition.
  14. Master those big piano leaps with these helpful tips.
  15. And parents, make sure you celebrate National Piano Month along with your kids! Check out our tips to support your young, aspiring musician.

Readers, how are YOU celebrating National Piano Month? Let us know in the comments! 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs (2015 Update)

12 Addictive Apps Every Musician Needs - top music apps

Since the invention of the app store, aspiring and experienced musicians have been finding inspiration, practicing their skills, and immersing themselves in their craft — all with the help of some of the top music apps!

There are so many noteworthy apps that can benefit all musicians, from guitarists to singers and songwriters. Whether you are looking for something educational or creative, this list will benefit your collection of apps. And best of all, they are all fun to work with… and pretty addictive, we might add!

Here are our picks for top music apps…

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songwriter’s Pad

Songwriter’s Pad is the ultimate songwriter’s tool. It contains powerful idea-generating tools to inspire creation while making lyric-writing easier than ever. Everything you need to write music is packed into this one application. Finally, an app to defeat writer’s block once and for all!

Download: iOSAndroid

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Songsterr Tabs & Chords

Songsterr Tabs & Chords was featured in the Wall Street Journal as, “one of the best apps for learning to play music.” With a huge catalog of 500,000 accurate tabs and chords, all musicians can learn something with this app. Most songs have tabs for individual instruments too, including the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

Download: iOS, Android

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)GarageBand

Do you need a full recording studio on the go? If so, this is the app for you. GarageBand turns your phone into a collection of instruments, including piano, organ, guitar, and drums. Guitarists can even plug their electric guitar in and play through classic amps and stompbox effects!

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)My Note Games

This is a fun music game that teaches music theory and instrument mastery, including lessons for saxophone, piano, guitar, recorder, trumpet, violin, viola, and cello, plus vocals and whistling. The app actually listens to you playing your instrument, checking your tone, pitch, and accuracy.

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Beatwave

With Beatwave, you can make unique music just by tapping on your screen! No musical skills are required, and you can create songs anywhere from your phone. In minutes, you can make complex songs with multiple layers of instruments and sounds — and then share them on social media!

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Ear Trainer

Ear Trainer is an educational application designed for beginner to advanced musicians, music students, and anyone interested in improving one’s musical ear. There are more than 260 individual exercises covering intervals, chords, scales, relative pitch, and melody.

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Sing! Karaoke by Smule

Are you ready to take karaoke to the next level? With Sing! Karaoke by Smule, you can sing your favorite karaoke songs and show them off to the world. Record yourself, add audio effects, and share with the app’s global community!

Download: iOS, Android

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Polyphonic!

Polyphonic! is a simple interface app for creating your own complex layers of music, even without any prior musical ability. Each square represents a different sound and each color represents a unique group of sounds. This app is perfect for anyone interested in music creation.

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Hum

Hum makes note-taking and audio recording of song ideas easier than ever! Every aspiring songwriter needs this tool in his or her arsenal. Hum keeps your lyrics and song ideas organized and sortable so you never lose anything again.

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Lyrics Pro

With this app, you get access to the lyrics of millions of tracks, straight from your phone. You can search by artist, song name, or the lyrics themselves. It also has a cool auto-loading feature that delivers the lyrics to any song that is currently playing!

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)Figure

You now have the ability to create awesome music in minutes! Simply open Figure and start by creating a beat, then share it with your friends. Whether you are new to music production or are a seasoned veteran, this app is super fun to use. All musicians can use it to improve their rhythm and expand creativity.

Download: iOS

 

12 Addictive Apps Musicians Will Love (2015 Update)SongPop

Do you know everything about music? Test yourself against friends with SongPop. As you play, you’ll listen to song clips from thousands of original artists in more than 300 genres, and the idea is to guess the artist or song faster than your friends.

Download: iOS, Android

 

Readers, what top music apps are missing from this list? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

What's the Best App for Learning Piano

Free & Low-Cost Piano Apps for the iPad – Reviewed!

What's the Best App for Learning Piano

Why limit your piano practice? Using apps to help you practice, as well as within your piano lessons, can be a ton of fun! Here are teacher Sabrina P.‘s recommendations for the best piano apps for iPad and iPhone…

 

There are SO many piano apps for iPad, iPhone, and all other models of tablets and smartphones — some claim they will help motivate your kids to practice, others say that they help your little ones learn how to read sheet music. Some you pay for, while many are free. They all claim to be the app for you!

So how do you know which ones to download?

Below I’ve pulled together my list of the best piano apps, all of which I use personally or use in my private lessons. They are reviewed based on my personal opinion and experience with them. I’ve also rated them against each other, meaning the apps marked as 10/10 are better than every other app out there.

 

1

PianoMaestro (Apple) (FREE)

This is the BEST piano teaching/motivating app on the planet. The minute you turn it on, you’ll notice it’s not just one of those many scrolling piano note apps.

Piano Maestro 1 720x450

Piano Maestro 2 720x450

Here are a few of the wonderful features:

  • Unique to the app is its MusicSense Engine. Basically, sit in front of your piano and it recognizes the notes you play. I was blown away by how well it works!
  • Kids can use this app to learn how to read rhythms – one of the hardest skills to teach – quickly and simply. Most of the songs have music in the background that you play along with, and all you have to do is play the note when it reaches the laser line.
  • If a song is too hard you can hit the “learn” option, which is a great way to show kids exactly how to practice piano. It breaks the song up into small parts, and each part must be played two or three times before moving on.
  • There are more than 5,000 songs and exercises, and they’re always adding more!
  • There are several different genres to choose from, including pop & rock, musicals, classical, and TV and game themes!

 

 

2

Piano Dust Buster (Apple) (FREE)

If you want to expose your little ones to piano, this is the app for you. It’s designed exclusively to teach piano to toddlers and kids not quite ready for lessons. Unlike Piano Maestro (which focuses on learning to read sheet music), Piano Dust Buster introduces piano letters to kids.

The premise: help Granny dust off her piano! To play, you need to whack dust shapes to the beat and plays with many genres of music. It’s really great for exposing kids to classical music!

Dust Buster 2 720x450

Dust Buster 2 2 720x450

 

 

3

Tenuto (Apple) ($3.99)

Tenuto is a type of flashcard app. Yes, you do have to pay for it, but honestly if you bought music flashcards, you would spend at least this much. Plus, it’s much cooler on an iPad!

Tenuto teaches users how to find the different letters on the keyboard, as well as recognizing notes on the staff. It also has an ear training section, but I don’t recommend it because it’s a little difficult to use.

Tenuto 1 720x450

Tenuto 2 720x450

 

 

4

goodEar (Apple) ($0.99/$3.99)

goodEar is a really fun piano app for iPad, particularly for helping with ear training. There are four versions of the app – chords, melody, scales, and intervals. You can buy them separately (each costs $0.99), or you can buy goodEar Pro, which includes all four for $3.99. However, unless you already have a pretty good ear and just want to test how good your ear really is, I really don’t think the Pro version is practical. Instead, just choose the lesson that you’d like to focus on.

goodEar Melody is the version my students like the best because it’s the easiest to understand and play. Once you turn on the app, it’s pretty straightforward – it’s basically like “Simon Says” for piano. You can change how many tones you want to play in a run and what kind of intervals to choose from. I usually start my students with the settings in the screenshot below.

GoodEar 720x450

 

 

5

Piano Notes Pro (Apple)($2.99)

This is exclusively a sight reading app. The look of the app is very clean and you can even personalize the background screen to the color of your choice!

To begin, choose how high and low on the staff you want to play, which staff you want to read, and if you want the notes to be random, ascending, or descending. Then, all you have to do is play the key that is shown on the staff.

This app has many great features that take students a while to get through, but if you want to keeping going you can also purchase an upgrade pack for an additional $0.99, which adds major scales, broken chords, and multi-pattern notes.

Piano Notes Pro 720x450

 

 

6

Rhythm Lab (Apple) ($2.99)

I really like this app for teaching rhythm. It starts very easy but can get really difficult! There are 20 levels, which all have at least 10 lessons. One cool feature of this piano app is that you can practice playing rhythm patterns from famous composers like Bach, Joplin, and Mozart.

As you play the game, you’ll see valued notes (quarter, half, whole, etc.) and you have to play them along with a metronome. You can listen to the rhythm first if you need a reference. After you have completed a rhythm, swipe to the left and the next task will appear.

Rhythm Lab 1 720x450

 

Here’s a tip when using this app: after you press play, you will hear a specific number of clicks first; this corresponds with the top number of the time signature. For example, if the time signature is 2/4, you will hear two clicks, then you have to start playing the written rhythm on the third click. That is the only confusing part of the app.

I do have two complaints about this app, which is why I’ve given it a lower rating: I don’t like the way it looks – it’s just a bit messy for my taste. You also cannot have multiple accounts.

 

 

7

Piano 3D (Apple) (FREE + any in-app purchases)

The way this app works is pretty cool — it’s a concert grand piano that you can scroll around and look at from all different angles to see how an acoustic grand really works — plus, you can play on the keys!

Users can also access a pretty good-sized list of modern and classical music. When you select a song, it will switch back to the piano and you can watch the song play on the keys.

Piano 3D 720x450

Piano 3D is a cool way to learn a song by ear (instead of reading sheet music). You can pause the song, play the song note-by-note, and pick the hand you want to see and hear. You can also connect your keyboard to the app and record songs right into the app.

I like to use this app to expose kids to classical music. They can see how hard some pieces are, and this can motivate kids to practice. They also see that music can be far more vast and interesting than the pieces they’re playing in method books!

The downside of the app is that songs are pretty expensive. I waited until there was a sale on the app to buy a lifetime subscription, which was $20. They do, however, offer a few songs for free, or you can buy short-term access to all the songs in weekly and monthly subscriptions.

 

 

8

Scribd (Apple, Android, Microsoft, Internet) (FREE)

Many of you might know Scribd as a reading app, not unlike Kindle or iBooks, but with Scribd you can also find a lot of free sheet music for piano! However, it can be a bit challenging to find the right piece from the app if you don’t know a few tips.

For instance, if I wanted to find “Beauty and the Beast” sheet music, I recommend including search words like “piano,” “easy,” and “sheet music” after the title. The first results to show up will always be books, so you have to scroll down to the “Documents” section. There you will find relevant sheet music that people have posted.

Scribd 1 720x450

Overall, this app is a great way to get your kids playing pieces they want to play, which will make practice more enjoyable for you and them!

 

 

9

GarageBand (Apple) (FREE – $4.99)

You’ve probably heard of GarageBand for your computer, but the portable version is really useful as well, especially if you have a budding songwriter on your hands! You can record piano with tons of different synthesizer sounds and play other instruments like guitar, drums, and other stringed instruments. Little ones especially like being able play on other instruments, as this helps them become well-rounded musicians.

Just so you know, if you buy a brand new iPad, Apple throws in a few apps for free, and GarageBand is one of them. If you have a previous model, you’ll have to buy it, but I believe it’s worth it!

Garageband 1 720x450

Garageband 2 720x450

 

With this list of apps, we’ve covered everything you’ll need to start learning piano — music reading, rhythms, intervals, note recognition, sight reading, and so on. A lot of these apps are just for learning the basics, but there are many more apps that may be more helpful for different situations and goals. In my experience, the apps above are the most useful in almost all situations. Hopefully you’ll find some of these useful for yourself or your piano students. Happy learning!

Post Author: Sabrina P.
Sabrina P. teaches piano and is classically trained with over 14 years of playing experience. She especially enjoys Modern Japanese classical music (anime and video game music). Some of her influences include Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Strauss, and Tchaikovsky.  Learn more about Sabrina here!

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Tips from Teachers How to Get Ready for a Piano Recital

How to Get Ready for Your First Piano Recital [Infographic]

Tips from Teachers How to Get Ready for a Piano Recital

A good piano performance takes plenty of patience, practice, and persistence. And your first piano recital can be nerve-wracking, on top of that! Here, music teacher Liz T. shows you exactly how to prepare…

 

If you’re new to playing piano, your first piano recital is a wonderful opportunity to showcase what you’ve learned in front of family and friends! However, performing can be nerve-wracking for kids and adults alike. Here is a suggested timeline to help you perform at your best!

Prep Before the Recital

3 Months Before

  • Start planning your repertoire (the songs you’ll be performing) with your teacher. Having your songs picked out at least three to four months before your recital gives you plenty of time to practice.

2 Months Before

  • In your lessons, work with your teacher on improving your rhythm, as well as mastering the melody and chords.
  • In between lessons, practice your pieces! Work on the left and right hand separately, then practice with both hands together.
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn entire songs in one sitting. Break it down: work on 16 measures at a time, or one page at a time.

1 Month Before

  • This is the most crucial time before the recital, so make sure you’re not slacking off!
  • If you feel prepared, try challenging yourself by memorizing your piano pieces.
  • Try recording yourself playing, so you can identify areas you still need to work on.
  • Listen to professional recordings of your pieces.

Week Before

  • Make sure you know the logistics of the recital: What time should you arrive? How should you dress? Will the recital be indoors or outdoors?
  • Put on a mock recital in front of your friends and family.

Day of the Recital

  • Get a good night’s rest and eat a well-balanced meal.
  • Bring extra copies of your music, as well as snacks and water.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Make sure you warm up! Run through some scales and arpeggios, stretch your muscles, and keep your hands warm and loose.
  • Breathe! Imagine your performance going well, and stay positive.

Additional Tips for Your First Piano Recital

  • Besides bringing extra copies of your music, I recommend having a picture of your music saved on your smartphone (as you never know what can happen).
  • I also recommend either laminating your music onto a small board or putting it into a three-ring notebook. This way, you won’t have pages blowing away and falling down.

Got it? Here’s a handy infographic to print out and post where you can see it!

Piano Recital Timeline - How to Get Ready for Your First Piano Recital

Share this Image On Your Site

I wish you all the best with your upcoming piano recital. If you would like to map out an action plan for how to excel at your next recital, schedule a piano lesson today and get started!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by bnilsen

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

10 of the Best Piano Duet Books

10 of the Best Piano Duet Books All Pianists Need

10 of the Best Piano Duet Books

We’ve already shown you some fun piano duets to try, but what if you want to broaden your repertoire? Here, music teacher Julie P. shares some great piano duet books that are just as fun as they are educational…

 

Piano duets are fun for players of all ages and abilities. You can play with your friends, siblings, parents, or teachers. This opens up so many different possibilities for music! Not only are duets a fun way to make music with someone else, but they are also very beneficial for each player’s skill development.

Students can learn a lot about how to play piano with others by having to line up their part with their partner’s part. Below, I’ve chosen 10 of the best duet books that I know will help you with your playing, along with examples of fun piano duets that can be found in each.

The 10 Best Piano Duet Books

1) PreTime Classics (Early Elementary)

This is a great piano book for beginners, especially for introducing young players to classical music. PreTime Classics has nine familiar pieces from the classical repertoire. The duet parts are meant to be played by a teacher or early-intermediate player. One song that many children will recognize from this book is “Ode to Joy.”

 

2) Duet Favorites ((Early Elementary – Late Elementary)

This series of three books has duets for beginners. This is a great way to introduce young players to playing duets. A fun song many children will enjoy is “Bulldog Blues” from Level 1:

 

3) Easy Jazz Christmas Duets (Late Elementary-Early Intermediate)

This book has 5 jazzy version of popular Christmas tunes such as “Jingle Bells,” “We Three Kings,” and “Silent Night” played in the video below. These are great for students who have been playing for a few years.

 

4) Celebrated Piano Duets, Books 1-5 (Late Elementary — Intermediate)

This series of five books has new compositions for a wide variety of playing abilities. Pianists with a few years of experience will enjoy songs like “Village Dance” from Book 1. More experienced students will enjoy impressing audiences with songs like “Viva Vivaldi!” from Book 5.

 

5) Essential Keyboard Duets, Volume 1-7 (Late Elementary — Early Advanced)

This seven-volume series has a wealth of classical literature for players of almost all abilities. Players with a few years of experience can play pieces like “Norwegian Dance” from Volume 1. Volume 3 has pieces such as “Faure’s Dolly Suite” and Volume 6 features works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Dvorak.

 

6) The Beatles Piano Duets – 2nd Edition (Early Intermediate)

Beatles fans will love the eight songs in this book. With exciting arrangements and familiar tunes, this book will please both the players and the audience. Songs include “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” “Let it Be,” and “Eleanor Rigby.”

 

7) Christmas Fantasy Duets (Early Intermediate – Late Intermediate)

The four songs in this book are inventive arrangements of classic Christmas carols. With interesting variations and new harmonic twists, this book keeps Christmas fun. Songs include “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Halls,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Joy To the World.”

 

8) Scott Joplin’s Ragtime Classics (Late Intermediate)

Ragtime music is always exciting and this book includes seven of Joplin’s most popular pieces. Test your syncopation skills with this book on songs like “The Entertainer,” “Maple Leaf Rag,” and “The Easy Winners.”

 

9) Star Wars (Late Intermediate)

Play eight of your favorite Star Wars songs, including “Duel of the Fates,” “Cantina Band,” “Princess Leia’s Theme,” and of course, the “Star Wars Main Theme.” Hear six songs from the book performed here:

 

10) Gershwin Preludes (Advanced)

The three piano preludes in this book are full of character and bluesy harmonies. The preludes were originally written for solo piano, but they are so popular that arrangements have been written for a wide variety of instruments. These piano duet versions aren’t easy to play, but they are very rewarding. Take a listen to the first prelude here:

The books above should keep you busy for a while. Grab a partner and get to learning! Music is meant to be shared, so have fun playing these duets with fellow musicians.

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

Photo by PJ Mixer

 

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

5 Easy Piano Duets, and the Best Repertoire Books

5 Fun (& Easy) Piano Duets for Beginners and Beyond

5 Easy Piano Duets

Learning to play piano by yourself is fun, but learning to play with someone else can be twice as enjoyable! Here, music teacher Julie P. shares her picks for the best easy piano duets and books to check out…

 

One of the best parts of being a piano player is that you get to play music with other people. And I don’t just mean when you’re playing in a rock band or accompanying a soloist. You can play duets with your fellow pianists!

There is a wide range of repertoire available, from easy piano duets for beginners to advanced duets requiring serious study from both players. Duets can be in any genre, from classical to jazz, and are sometimes orchestrated for special holidays or occasions. No matter what your skill level or interests, there’s a duet for you.

Plus, playing duets are more than just fun, they’re great for improving your ability to play with a steady beat. They also challenge your ears to listen to both your part and your partner’s. You may find it difficult to play with another pianist at first, but the more duets you play, the easier it will become to synchronize the two parts.

Below are five fun and exciting songs and books to get you started in your duet endeavors!

 

Jazz Prelude, by William Gillock (Intermediate)

This syncopated duet is exciting for both players and sounds very impressive when put together. Players and listeners of all ages will love the snappy rhythms and bluesy harmonies. If you want to liven up a recital or talent show, this is the piece to play.

 

Carol of the Bells Fantasy, by Robert Vandall (Intermediate)

“Carol of the Bells” is a favorite among many pianists for its repetitive melody and minor tonality. This duet version expands on those appealing aspects to create an intense rendition of the song. It’s a great duet for a Christmas recital or even during a church service.

 

Easy Classical Piano Duets For Teacher and Student (Elementary)

For younger pianists, this book is a great opportunity to play duets with their teacher or perhaps an older sibling. All of the 17 classical pieces in this book would work great for a recital or in a church service. Watch two young children do a great job with “Waltz”, by Ernesto Becucci, in the video above.

 

Bouncin’ Boogie, by Martha Mier (Early Intermediate)

Get ready to boogie down with this fun duet. Bouncin’ Boogie is one song from a great book called “Jazz, Rags & Blues” by Martha Mier. The six songs in this book are fun for students and are great for learning and practicing swing rhythms.

 

Chinese Dragons, by Nancy Faber (Advanced)

This three-movement work is impressive, exciting, and full of sounds you don’t hear all the time in traditional classical music. It requires excellent rhythmic feel from both players and communication for changes in tempo and dynamics.

 

If one of these duets has sparked your interest, grab a friend, sibling, parent, or teacher and play some piano duets! There are many more easy piano duets out there than just these, so have fun exploring the wealth of options available.

 

JuliePPost Author: Julie P.
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!

Photo by christopher.durant

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

10 MORE Easy Piano Songs for Kids [Video Tutorials]

10 More Easy Piano Songs For Kids

We’ve already shown you easy piano songs for your child to learn, but why stop there? Piano teacher Liz T. adds to the excitement with her recommendations for 10 more of the best piano songs for kids…

 

The keyboard or piano is perhaps the easiest instrument for kids to learn how to play. Within a few weeks of practice, most kids are already playing the melodies to some of their favorite tunes! Between the ages of four through 10 is ideal for students to start learning how to play the piano.

Your child will most likely already be familiar with some of these traditional songs, therefore making it fun and easy for your child to pick them up on the piano. Here are some of the best piano songs for kids to learn.

1. “The Wheels on the Bus”

The wheels on the bus go round and round
C F F F F A C A F
Round and round, round and round
G E C C A F
The wheels on the bus go round and round
C F F F F A C A F
All through the town
G C F

2. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream
C C C D E E D E F G
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
C C C G G G E E E C C C
Life is but a dream
G F E D C

3. “Pop Goes the Weasel”

All around the mulberry bush
C C D D E G E C
The monkey chased the weasel
G C C D D E C
The monkey thought twas all in fun
G C C D E G E C
Pop goes the weasel
A D F E D

4. “Ode to Joy”

E E F G G F E D C C D E E D D
E E F G G F E D C C D E D C C
D D E C D F E C D F E D C D G
E E F G G F E D C C D E D C C

5.”You Are My Sunshine”

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
G C D E E E D# E C C
You make me happy when skies are grey
C D E F A A G F E
You’ll never know, Dear, how much I love you
C D E F A A G F E C
So please don’t take my sunshine away
C D E F D D E C

6. “Yankee Doodle”

Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony
C C D E C E D C C D E C B
Stuck a feather in his hat and called it Macaroni
C C D E F E D C B G A B C C
Yankee Doodle went to town, Yankee Doodle dandy
A B A G A B C G A G F E G
Mind the music and the step and with the girls be handy
A B A G A B C A G C B D C C

7. Barney’s “I Love You” Song

I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family
G E G G E G A G F E D E F
With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you
E F G C C C C C D E F G
Won’t you say you love me too
G D D F E D C

8. “When the Saints Go Marching In”

Oh when the saints
C E F G
Oh when the saints
C E F G
Oh when the saints go marching in
C E F G E C E D
Oh how I want to be in that number
E E D C C E G G G F
When the saints go marching in
E F G E D E C

9. “Amazing Grace”

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
D G B G B, A G E D
That saved a wretch like me
D G B G B A D
I once was lost, but now am found
B D B D B G D E G G E D
Twas blind but now I see
D G B G B A G

10. “Jingle Bells”

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh
G E D C G G G G E D C A
Over the fields we go, laughing all the way
A A F E D B G G F D E
Bells on bobtail ring, making spirits bright
G E D C G G E D C A
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight
A A F E D G G G G A G F D C G
Jingle bells, jingle bells
E E E E E E
Jingle all the way
E G C D E
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey
F F F F F E E E E D D E D G
Jingle bells, jingle bells
E E E E E E
Jingle all the way
E G C D E
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, hey
F F F F F E E E E G G F D C C

Following along with these video tutorials can be helpful, but I also recommend checking out this guide to piano notes, so your child can learn more about the relationships between the keys.

I also encourage you and your child to sing along while you play these songs! This is a great way for children to become familiar with these classic and traditional songs, while improving their reading and aural skills.

Finally, if you or your child needs some guidance working on these songs, I highly recommend working with a piano instructor! A private piano teacher can show your child the proper fingering placement on the piano, the appropriate speed and pace for the song, and the joy of playing these fun songs. Happy playing!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

Photo by C.K. Koay

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

100 ways to be the perfect piano parents

25 Tips for Supporting Your Young Musician [Infographic]

100 ways to be the perfect piano parents

Parents, wondering how to best show your support as your child starts music lessons? Read on for a round-up of the best tips from piano teacher Rhonda B., plus a few other prominent piano bloggers…

 

So you’ve enrolled your child in piano lessons. End of story, right? No. Learning this challenging instrument — or any instrument, at that — will require a long-term commitment of at least a few years. It takes teamwork to make it happen.

My student Mallory’s mother, Christy, understands this. A couple of months ago, she asked for a consultation during lesson time, and explained her concerns that her 13-year-old daughter seemed to be losing interest in lessons. The three of us agreed to concentrate on making practice times consistent and holding Mallory more accountable. Mom, student, and teacher cooperated toward a mutual goal.

Since the consultation, Mallory’s practicing has improved 100%. This helps her to enjoy lessons and to progress more quickly. She recently nailed her assignment piece, a rendition of “Maple Leaf Rag.” Sweet success! And it happened because a concerned mom walked the extra mile to lend a hand to her struggling daughter.

Kids need their parents’ assistance, encouragement, understanding, and occasional firmness to help them master their music assignments and progress. This is especially true of young beginners — ages 5 to 7 — but also for students of all ages. Mom and Dad can help even if their knowledge of music is practically zero.

You, too, can achieve the status of a perfect piano parent. Here are 25 suggestions for helping kids learn piano and showing your support.

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support in Lessons

Is your child nervous about taking lessons? That’s normal! Ensure a smooth start with these tips…

Start at the right time. Consider if your child is really ready for piano lessons. Although some teachers will take students at very early ages, there are general guidelines for the best age to start piano lessons.

Don’t choose a teacher they don’t relate to. If your child doesn’t like his or her music teacher, this may reflect negatively on the experience. If your child is complaining about their teacher, ask them to share what they don’t like about them. Listen without trying to convince them differently. (via The Child Whisperer)

Stay in close touch with teachers. Keep your instructors informed of what’s happening at home. They can adjust their expectations, change the music, revise the lesson format, switch to better times or days, and more.

See if you can get involved. Check with your teacher to see if he or she suggests sitting in on the lessons — this works for some kids, but not for all.

Consider taking piano lessons at the same time. Be a terrific role model by practicing what you preach, and show your children that you are as human as they are when it comes to making mistakes. Bonus: Playing duets together can be a great way to bond!

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support at Home

Helping kids learn piano begins with a supportive home environment! Here are some tips…

Ask questions about what your child is working on. Listen to some of the assigned composers’ music on YouTube together. My student Aiden’s mom helped him find a ragtime version of “Everything Is Awesome”… which got her son really excited about the song.

Make sure your child has the right resources & books. Talk to your child’s teacher and ask about getting a theory book to accompany the lesson book. There’s a good chance that your teacher will suggest one to begin with. If not, ask for one. (via KeytarHQ)

Encourage other family members to applaud your child’s efforts. Positive attention is a great motivator. (via FamilyEducation)

Listen to music at home and in the car. It really doesn’t matter what you listen to – rock, country, classical, pop, or indie – what matters is that you let your kids see you bebopping along to it. Encourage singing and dancing as much as possible!

Head off burn-out. Kids may need to push through a tough stage, but at other times, a reward can help. For my student Matthew’s outstanding lesson last week, for example, his mother treated him to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Realize that it’s a process. There usually isn’t fast progress, but if students consistently practice, they will see wonderful results over time. This really is a case where slow and steady wins the race. (via Laura, Laura’s Music Studio)

Be especially supportive when they have a bad day. Music lessons are hard and get harder every week. While your child may be picking up their lessons at a fast pace, they won’t always. There will come days when your child has a tough time learning something and gets frustrated. Explain everyone has a tough day or two from time to time and to be patient. Help them through it. (via Piano Wizard Academy)

If there’s a growing attitude problem, try to identify the heart of the issue.
Does Kaitlyn really hate the piano, or is she frustrated because she can’t seem to master the B section of “Musette”? What’s the real issue?

Be wary of unrealistic expectations. People often vastly underestimate how difficult music can be. It’s best to have as few expectations as possible, and take every development as a gift when it comes. (via The Wise Serpent)

Don’t ‘help’ in ways the teacher hasn’t asked you to. For example, don’t write the names of the notes in the music for your child. (via Elissa Milne – from her article 15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano)

Encourage your kids to compose their own songs! Being creative in this way is not only fun, it instills deeper music intelligence, fosters general life skills, and increase self-confidence.

Piano Parents Tips: Handling Practice Time

Not sure how to motivate your child to practice? Here’s what you need to know…

Set up the right environment for practice. Make sure your kids are practicing in a comfortable place, with all the supplies they need. Here’s a great resource from AMP (the National Association of Music Parents).

Establish a practice routine. Explain that practicing is non-negotiable… like completing math homework or eating vegetables or tackling chores. Make it doable by insisting on regular practice times when students are rested and alert.

Consider using the phrase “playing time” rather than “practice time.” (via FamilyEducation)

Establish daily musical goals. For example, instead of saying that 30 minutes of practice is enough regardless of what is achieved, you might say, “Today the goal of practicing is to play the first eight measures of your piece without any mistakes.” (via PBS Parents)

Game-ify your child’s practice, such as with the ideas in this article from NPR.

Piano Parents Tips: Show Your Support at Recitals

Piano recitals are the perfect opportunity for your child to show off what he or she has learned! Increase your child’s confidence with these tips…

Take advantage of performances. Nothing motivates student practicing like preparing to play publicly, whether it’s a formal studio recital, sharing a piece in music class at school, or jamming with the church’s youth band.

Encourage the whole family to attend! Fill the crowd with friendly faces to fend off nerves and make your child feel especially excited about performing.

Prepare your child for mistakes before the recital. Tell a funny story about a time when you flubbed something or suffered a pratfall. Make light in advance of any looming catastrophe. Make it clear that a mistake is “no big deal.” (via The Happy Piano Professor)

Verbalize your support. All students wonder sometimes: is all their practicing worthwhile? Does anybody care about it? Are they sounding better than they did a year ago? A thoughtful, positive comment from a parent can help them persevere.

20+ Tips for Parents How to Support Your Young Musician

Share this Image On Your Site

Learning to play a musical instrument, especially one as difficult as piano, requires teamwork. Students learn and practice. Instructors teach, guide, and gently prod toward excellence. Moms and dads enforce practicing, support the instruction, and stay attuned to their children’s struggles and victories. Together they form a win/win/win team, thanks in part to the perfect piano parent’s involvement.

Want more tips? Check out Anthony Mazzocchi’s book, The Music Parents’ Guide: A Survival Kit for the New Music Parent.

Teachers and parents, what other tips would you recommend for helping kids learn piano? Let us know in the comments!

 

Rhonda Barfield has taught piano for 20+ years in two piano schools and now at her home studio. She has a B.A. in Music Education from Culver-Stockton College, and studied post-graduate piano with instructors at Truman State University. Rhonda operates Listening House Studios in St. Charles, Missouri with her son and business partner Eric. Book lessons here!

Photo by Michael Cisneros

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

40+ Fun (and Easy!) Music Crafts & Activities for Kids

Looking for easy crafts for kids? If your child loves music, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve complied a list of our favorite music activities and easy, DIY musical crafts your family will love to create.

You’ll find a link to the original post with instructions, as well as the level of difficultly, ranging from music activities your preschooler can do to more advanced, adults-only projects to decorate your home. Enjoy!

Musical Crafts for Kids

These crafts are perfect for kids, from DIY music-makers to fun decorations!

1. Recycled Outdoor Music Station via My Nearest and Dearest
Recycle cans and mason jars for fun outdoor play!
Level: Moderate

2. Homemade Kids Drums via A School of Fish
Let the kids make and decorate their own drums for a marching band.
Level: Very Easy

3. Fancy Shaker Eggs via Mama Smiles
Plastic eggs filled with various items create noisemakers for little hands.
Level: Very Easy

4. Cardboard Guitar via Makedo
Channel your favorite rockstar with this DIY guitar!
Level: Moderate

5. PVC Pipe Xylophone via Frugal Fun for Boys
This large-scaled xylophone requires some space, but is a super fun instrument to play around with!
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - pvc instrument

6. Cardboard Castanets via Whimsy Love
Cardboard and buttons make a child-sized castanet.
Level: Easy

7. Tin Can Howler via Housing a Forest
All you need is a string and a tin can for this fun howler.
Level: Easy

8. Easy Trumpet Craft via Preschool Crafts for Kids
Practice your best marching band steps with this easy DIY trumpet!
Level: Easy

9. African Drums via DLTK Crafts for Kids
Practice rhythm with these easy to make and fun to design African drums.
Level: Easy

10. DIY Masquerade Mask via Circle City Creations
Stretch your artistic side with these decorated masks.
Level: Skilled

musical crafts - masquerade mask

11. Rainbow Xylophone via And Next Comes L
Wood, window casings, and paint create a giant rainbow xylophone.
Level: Skilled

12. Do Re Mi Bottle via Life with Moore Babies
Discover different pitches with this colored water craft.
Level: Easy

13. Painted Stick Instrument via Twodaloo
Natural materials and craft supplies combine to make a unique instrument from ancient times.
Level: Easy

14. Rain Stick via Frogs Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
A mailing tube combined with a few other items create the sound of rain.
Level: Moderate

15. Shaker Toys via The Educators’ Spin On It
Use a variety of containers and ingredients to explore different sounds.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - music shakers

16. Homemade Kazoo via Buggy and Buddy
Common kitchen items come together to create a DIY kazoo.
Level: Easy

17. Corn Shakers via Sow Sprout Play
This is a great project for sensory play and teaching rhythm.
Level: Easy

18. Popsicle Stick and Paper Plate Kalimba via Kodaly and Orff Music Teacher’s blog
This is a fun, unique instrument your kids have probably never heard before.
Level: Easy

19. Pin Strummers via Pi’ikea Street
Use bobby pins to create boings, pops, and other sounds!
Level: Easy

20. Homemade Trumpet via All Done Monkey
All you need is cardboard tubes, poster board, and decorating materials for this easy craft.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - DIY trumpet

21. Jingle Bells via Chasing Cheerios
Tiny bells and a cardboard tube create a fun shake stick – perfect for around the holidays!
Level: Easy

22. Homemade French Horn via Savvy Homemade
Everyday items come together to make a fun French horn.
Level: Easy

23. Noisemaker via Ganz World
Easy-to-make noisemakers perfect for New Years.
Level: Easy

24. Wind Pipe Instrument via Laughing Kids Learn
This is a simple wind pipe that children can make in just a few minutes.
Level: Easy

25. Paper Plate Tambourine via SheKnows
Simple items make fun tambourines!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - paper plate tambourine

26. Homemade Harmonica via Mess for Less
Popsicle sticks, paper, and rubber bands create a DIY harmonica.
Level: Easy

27. Homemade Wind Chimes via Hands On As We Grow
Tin can that are decorated then assembled into custom wind chimes.
Level: Moderate

Crafts for Music-Loving Families

Want to spruce up your home with some more advanced crafts and DIY projects? Here are our favorite Pinterest-worthy ideas: 

1. Sheet Music Candles via Can’t Stop Making Things
Learn how to make Pottery Barn lookalike candles with sheet music.
Level: Moderate

2. Guitar Shelf via Budget Girl
Make unique shelves for trinkets from an old or broken guitar.
Level: Skilled

3. Custom Envelopes via (Never) Homemaker
Create your own crafty envelopes from sheet music.
Level: Easy

4. Broken Record Ombre Wall Art via Tattooed Martha
Turn old vinyl records into amazing décor your guests will love!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - broken record wall art

5. Vinyl Record Bookends via Treetrunkwise
Keep your bookshelf organized with these DIY bookends made from old records.
Level: Easy

6. Vintage Record Dessert Stand via Bubby & Bean
Showcase your cupcakes or desserts with this adorable stand.
Level: Easy

7. Music Box Ornament via Craft Snob, guest post from SaltTree
Surprise! This cool glitter ornament is actually a wind-up musical box!
Level: Moderate

8. Sheet Music Coffee Table via A Diamond In the Stuff
Spruce up your coffee table with sheet music!
Level: Easy

9. PVC Flute via the Widget Forge
Break out your toolbox and create your very own DIY flute.
Level: Skilled

10. Sheet Music Coasters via An Oregon Cottage
Use old sheet music to create unique drink coasters!
Level: Moderate

musical crafts - sheet music coasters

11. Record Album Cover Box Tutorial via Zombies Wearing Helmets
Stash items and keep your space organized with this retro-looking storage box made from old record covers.
Level: Moderate

12. Sheet Music Dresser via Miss Mustard Seed
Learn how to decoupage a dresser with sheet music here.
Level: Easy

13. Sheet Music Gift Bags via Eclectically Vintage
Make gift bags from sheet music for a special gift!
Level: Moderate

14. DIY Vinyl Record Table via The Flourishing Abode
Save money by making your own accent table made out of old vinyl records.
Level: Easy

musical crafts - record side table

15. Sheet Music Monograms via The Country Chic Cottage
Yet another sheet music craft idea to spruce up any room.
Level: Easy

16. Paper Roses via Capitol Romance
Transform sheet music into paper roses with a vintage look.
Level: Moderate

17. Lined Jewelry Box via Crafting a Green World
Spruce up an old jewelry box by lining it with sheet music.
Level: Easy

18. Sheet Music Shoe via Tales of a Trophy Wife
Cover your shoes in sheet music for a unique look.
Level: Easy

19. Sheet Music Star Decorations via Sweet Something Designs
These make great decorations for the holidays!
Level: Easy

musical crafts - sheet music ornament

20. Music Themed Door Wreath via Reloved Rubbish
Use old sheet music to make a stunning wreath.
Level: Moderate

21. Mosaic Bird Bath made from CDs via Me and My DIY
Repurpose old CDs to give your bird bath a cool mosaic look!
Level: Moderate

22. DIY Candle Holder via Lots of DIY
Grab some old CDs and marbles to make stunning candle holders.
Level: Easy

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

 

Visual Tour of How to Read Sheet Music

How to Read Sheet Music for Piano: A Visual Tour

Visual Tour of How to Read Sheet Music

As you learn how to read piano sheet music, a whole new world opens up! Instead of just black dots on a page, you’ll see beautiful melody and chords right before you. Here, piano teacher Nadia B. takes you on a helpful visual tour… 

 

One of the most interesting things about learning piano is that it’s truly like learning a new language – just as you learn how to decode words on a page to read them aloud, you are learning to unlock the symbols on the page to play music. It’s a whole different world, and this article will help you to more easily understand what all the symbols mean. That way, when you look at a piece of sheet music, you won’t think it’s Greek; you’ll see music!

First, let’s take a look a piece of sheet music; then, read on to learn more about each element:

how to read piano sheet music

1) The grand staff

The first thing to recognize is the grand staff. It is composed of two staffs (or groups of five parallel lines) joined together. The top staff uses the treble clef, while the bottom staff uses the bass clef. In general, the treble clef is where right hand notes are placed, while the bass clef is where left hand notes are placed. Once you know the piano note names, you will be able to read from the two staffs to play the correct notes with the correct hand.

In piano music, you can use different fingers to play a single note. The finger you use will depend on the location of the note within the phrase, as well as the hand position you are using. For this reason, you will often see finger numbers marked in the music to indicate which finger you should use. Finger numbers are an essential aid to playing well, as they will ensure that you maintain a good hand position and move naturally around the keyboard without awkward finger tucks.

2) Key signature

Directly after the treble and bass clef, you will see the key signature: a collection of sharps or flats that indicate which notes to alter within the music, as well as what key you are playing in.

3) Time signature

After the key signature comes the time signature: usually two numbers, one above the other, that tell you how many beats are in each measure and what type of note (quarter, eighth, half, etc.) is equal to one beat.

4) Tempo marking

You will also see a marking indicating what tempo the piece should be played (for example, allegro, indicating lively, or largo, indicating very slow). As you progress on the piano, you’ll get to know these common sheet music terms very well. Sometimes this also includes a specific metronome marking, which is a guideline to understand the range of tempi that are possible.

Then, you will see several things that occur throughout the music:

5) Dynamic markings

These markings tell you how loudly or softly to play the music, and when to gradually increase or decrease the sound. The letter ‘p’ indicates to play piano, or softly, while the letter ‘f’ stands for forte, or to play loudly.

You will see a marking similar to a hairpin for a crescendo, or gradual increase in sound, and a reverse hairpin for a decrescendo, or gradual decrease in sound. The location and length of the crescendo and decrescendo markings show you how long they should last and where to begin and end them.

6) Articulation markings

Another category of markings you will see is for articulation, or the way in which notes begin and end. In the written music, you will see symbols like accents (similar to a forward arrow), indicating to play the note with emphasis, or staccato (a dot above the note), indicating to play the note with space before the next note (slightly shorter than full value). You will also see slurs, lines that slope above or below a group of notes, which signify to connect the notes smoothly together as you play them.

7) Mood markings

Another marking you may see will indicate the mood of a particular passage. So you may see espressivo (play with great emotion) or appassionato (play passionately) marked in the music, among many others.

8) Pedal markings

One of the most important markings specific to piano is pedal markings. These illustrate where to depress the pedal and, often, how long to sustain it for. You will see this in the music as the abbreviation ‘Ped.; or sometimes as a bracket underneath the line of music.

 

So, the next time you pull out your piano sheet music, don’t feel overwhelmed. Instead, try going on a treasure hunt for these markings and symbols, and see what you discover about the music itself as a result!

Still struggling with understanding how the notes translate to the keys? Check out my visual intro to the piano keys!

Nadia BPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for safe, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource