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7 Best Soundtrack Pieces to Play on the Piano

Want to learn how to play songs on the piano from your favorite movies? In this week’s guest post, our friends at Tomplay share the seven best soundtrack pieces to play on the piano...

Whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned professional, it’s important to have a diversified repertoire to be able to choose music that fits a certain mood or appeals to a particular audience.

It seems obvious that an audience at a jazz club might prefer to hear jazz over classical, teenagers at a coffee shop might want to hear arrangements of pop tunes, and your family at a holiday party might want to hear Christmas carols (or music related to whatever holiday you may celebrate).

Soundtrack music from movies is a genre that fits a variety of playing situations, and the pieces can often be changed and arranged to sound different than the original score.

Below are seven famous soundtrack pieces that are great to learn on the piano, and some tips on what’s behind the music:

1. “My Heart Will Go On” Titanic

Starting off this list of film soundtracks is James Horner’s memorable theme from the movie Titanic.

The infectious melody and romantic lyrics, originally recorded for the film by Celine Dion, are very popular among audiences comprised of people who were teenagers growing up in the 90s, and anyone who may have enjoyed the 1997 blockbuster love story.

Musically, the song creates a lot of interest as it begins in the key of E major, modulates to F minor in the last chorus, and finally ends in the key of Ab major.

It is a fantastic piece to play with an accompaniment, vocal or other instrument, and can be tweaked in some ways to suit your playing ability, such as removing embellishments like the quick scalar descending lines in the opening theme.

2. Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean Theme

The main theme from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, titled as “He’s a Pirate,” is a progressive piece that is instantly recognizable for its catchy melodies and dynamic contrast.

The original score in the film features a full orchestra, but playing this piece on the piano alone is a surefire way to get an audience excited about your playing, especially if there are kids in the audience (who doesn’t love a good pirate adventure?).

Due to its quick pace, a good practice method to help tackle this piece is to start slow and gradually raise the tempo as your right and left hands can work independently.

3. Yann Tiersen’s “Comptine d’un autre été”

Comptine d’un autre été : L’après midi is Yann Tiersen’s piano piece written for the French film Amelie.  It is a somber sounding piece in the key of E minor.

The first section begins with a beautiful motif in the right hand, and changes to a quicker syncopated right hand part in the second section, while the left hand continues the ostinato of the chord progression (i, III, v, VII or Em, G, Bm, D).

The piece is in binary form, which means that it is comprised of a A and B section. The B section occurs when the whole piece is repeated, with the right hand being played one octave higher.

4. The Godfather Theme

Perfect for fans of the classic gangster movie The Godfather, “Speak Softly, Love,” was composed by Nino Rota, with lyrics written by Larry Kusik.

Layered with intricate harmonies due to the use of accidentals, triplets in the left hand, and octave movement with syncopation in the right hand, a piano arrangement of this beautiful song is best attempted slowly, like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, due to its complex nature.

The song has been translated into many languages including English, Italian, Sicilian, French, Spanish, and Ukrainian, so you can really get creative by arranging a variation featuring verses in multiple languages.

5. The Pink Panther Theme

Arguably the most widely recognized theme on this list, The Pink Panther theme was written by Henry Mancini for the 1963 comedy The Pink Panther.

While notated in the key of E minor, Mancini uses chromaticism to create the interesting harmonies in the theme, which evokes a sound like the blues scale.

The theme can be easily recognized at first by its signature perfect 5th chromatic slide to the E minor harmony (though omitting the third to keep the perfect 5th) in the left hand.

While you practice this piece, try breaking it into four measure sections as you bring the right and left hands together, so you do not overwhelm yourself reading the accidentals and syncopated rhythms.

6. “Concerning Hobbits”

“Concerning Hobbits,” sometimes referred to as The Shire theme, is Howard Shore’s acclaimed piece from the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, which is a film adaptation of J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy novel of the same name.

“Concerning Hobbits” is a recognizable theme used throughout the films (especially the first film in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring). Set in the key of D major, this piece is great for pianists of all skill levels, as it can be reduced as necessary to accommodate.

A beginner player could, for instance, simply play the main theme in the right hand and hold whole note chords in the left hand. On the other hand, a player who is more comfortable with left and right hand independence could arpeggiate the harmony in the left hand, as written and as heard in the opening of the piece.

7. John Williams: “The Imperial March”

This simply would not be a popular soundtrack list if we did not include an example from Star Wars.

“The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)” is sure to please audiences spanning many generations – which makes total sense as the original Star Wars trilogy was released in the 1970s and 80s, the prequel trilogy in the 90s and 2000s, and Disney’s recent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015.

Williams composed the piece around a recurring theme (leitmotif) associated with Galactic Empire, Darth Vader, or the dark side of the Force. It is heard, in full or in part, throughout the original trilogy, prequels, and as a very brief adaptation in The Force Awakens.

The March is set in the key of G minor, and beginner pianists can get started by just learning the leitmotif, which can be broken into five shorter ideas.

Hopefully this list gets you started learning a few famous soundtrack themes that you can dig into regardless of your proficiency on the piano.

If you have any favorites that we missed, let us know in the comments!

Guest Post Author: Jack McCarthy
Jack McCarthy is a featured writer for Tomplay interactive sheet music app; pop and classical scores for piano, violin, and more, accompanied with real recordings by professional musicians. Jack is also a singer and songwriter, based in Philadelphia.

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piano lessons

10 Things That’ll Happen When Your Child Begins Piano Lessons

piano lessons

Are you considering enrolling your child in piano lessons? In this week’s guest post, our friend Doreen Hall from Piano Parents lists 10 reasons why your child should start piano lessons…

I have taught hundreds of piano students over the course of my 30-year teaching career. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the positive impact that piano lessons have on kids.

If you’re considering piano lessons for your child, here are 10 great things that you can expect to see as your child moves forward on his or her musical journey.

Research shows that children who study music do better on standardized testing and in school overall. After all, music and math are very much intertwined.

2

Practicing every day teaches kids discipline as well as patience. Oftentimes, the disciple it takes to learn the piano spills over into other areas like school and other extracurricular activities.

3

Learning to accept constructive criticism will help your child build self-confidence. What’s more, being able to do something special, like playing the piano, helps kids feel good about themselves.

4

Of course, participating in piano recitals and concerts helps kids feel less self-conscious. However, talking one-on-one with a teacher also helps children feel better about speaking with others.

5

A great deal of my students make friends with one another. Your child will also make friends with other music students by playing in groups, accompanying other music students, or just having fun singing with friends.

6

Studying music makes kids into musicians. This applies to all areas of music, not just the piano. Almost all of my piano students participate in band, orchestra, chorus, or musical theater.

7

Reading music is a skill most people don’t have. People who can read the treble and bass clefs required for piano playing can read music for almost any instrument.

8

TV and video games are fun for kids, but playing the piano is much better for young minds.

9

Concentration is something one must build. At first, your child may only be able to concentrate for 10 minutes, but as he or she advances and the music becomes more difficult he or she will learn to concentrate for an hour or more at a time.

10

It is a well-known fact that playing music reduces stress. What a great positive way to deal with life’s difficult moments.

Piano lessons are great for children. There are so many benefits to learning the piano from developing life skills to creating a lifetime of memories. If you’re a piano parent congratulations, you are giving your child a wonderful gift!

Photo by Miki Yoshihito

Guest Post Author: Doreen Hall
Doreen Hall is the creator of Piano Parents, a website that provides support and encouragement to the parents of piano students. Doreen lives in West Palm Beach, Florida where she is a piano teacher, composer, and freelance musician. She is also the creator of Paloma Piano, a website featuring reproducible piano music for students. 

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piano love songs

15 Piano Love Songs That’ll Melt Your Heart [Videos]

piano love songs

Do you want to learn some new romantic piano love songs? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares 15 piano love songs that’ll make anyone’s heart melt…

Are you looking to add a few piano love songs to your existing repertoire?

Today, there are many well-known pianists who are able to transform a movie theme, classical piece, jazz standard, or pop song into a solo piece for the piano.

Below, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite piano love songs from a variety of styles. Try learning these piano love songs on your own or simply create a playlist you can enjoy.

15 Piano Love Songs That’ll Melt Your Heart

1. My Heart Will Go On: Titanic


This is a heart wrenching piano love song that will surely make you shed a tear. This is a great song for practicing a wide range of dynamics and phrasing. Start simple with the melody in the right hand, then incorporate the left hand.

2. Liszt “Love Dream” Lieberstraum

This classical piano piece by Liszt truly makes you feel like you’re inside a sweet dream. Appropriate to play at formal events, even children emotionally feel connected to the piece.

3. All I Ask of You: Phantom of the Opera

This romantic piano song by Andrew Lloyd Webber touches everyone’s hearts. The piano melody is stunning in the right hand, and the constant motion in the left hand keeps the piece driving. The range of notes in the low and high octaves on the piano make your emotions want to soar.

4. To a Wild Rose: Edward MacDowell


This is very simple classical song for the piano, featuring a light and airy mezzo-piano feel. It’s amazing how the chords accompany the melody to convey a romantic emotion, without even having to use words.

5. One Hand, One Heart: West Side Story

This piano love song is great to play for a loved one. Originally written for musical theater, the song can easily transition as a classical piece. Try improvising with the melody in a classical context within the solo part.

6. When a Man Loves a Woman: Percy Sledge


This 80’s love song is flirty and romantic. It’s a great song to entertain people with, as it brings back old memories for many people.

7. Endless Love: Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

This pop love ballad gives you freedom to put your own touch. For example, you can add trills, re-harmonization of chords, and play with the rhythm to make this piece sound a little more romantically spontaneous.

8. Con te Partiro: Andrea Bocelli


“Time to Say Goodbye” is a classy, Mediterranean song. The piano makes it sound very affectionate, and will leave you wanting one last kiss! It’s also a great piece to practice key changes.

9. La Boheme: Opera by Puccini

Opera has been touching audience’s hearts for hundreds of years. While the song was  initially written for full orchestra, it still provokes the same kind of emotion on the piano.

10. Corcovado: Antonio Carlos Jobim


This light jazz piano song always puts everyone into a romantic mood. Challenge yourself to see if you can come up with the most intimate chord voicing’s.

11. Sunday Kind of Love: Etta James

This 1960’s lovey-dovey tune is sure to make you want to be with your love on a Sunday. The way the song builds up in each verse, chorus, and bridge will have you on the edge of your seat.

12. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant: Billy Joel


The melody and chords in this piano love song paints a beautiful image in your mind. This song can be played either mid-tempo or as a very slow ballad. It’s also great for dramatic shaping.

13. Crazy After All These Years: Paul Simon

The lyrics in this folk song are very poetic, and you can easily sing along with the tune. This song is not too busy, so you can put in your own arpeggios and melodic phrasing to create the expression you want to convey.

14. Dreaming of You & I Could Fall in Love: Selena

These romantic piano songs from the 90’s would be a great medley put together. Perfect for background music or a performance, these songs will be very popular among young adults.

15. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell

This classic Motown song will certainly put your pop chops to the test, as you passionately play this song. Let your emotions run wild!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed learning about these 15 piano love songs that will absolutely melt your heart!

Don’t be afraid to pour your emotions out on the piano. For more guidance on how to approach these songs, ask your piano teacher for some help!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons 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!

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Family Affair: 3 Creative Ways to Enjoy Music as a Family

Do you want to be more involved in your child’s music lessons? In this week’s guest post, our friend Lara L. at Piano Power shares five creative ways you can enjoy music as a family… 

In a world of earbuds and custom playlists, sharing music as a family “IRL” (or “in real life,” for those not hip to Internet slang) is more important than ever. Car sing-alongs and kitchen dance parties are par for the course.

To help you get more involved in your child’s music lessons or simply have some fun, we’ve outlined five unique music-sharing traditions. Read on for some fun musical inspiration!

1. Have a Family Karaoke Night

Love it or hate it, karaoke can be a true learning experience for kids. Reading lyrics, performing for an audience, waiting their turn, learning to respect others’ performances– there are major lessons to be learned beyond karaoke’s goofy fun.

If you’re not too shy to get onstage, kids can witness your own love for music, and see that mom or dad makes mistakes, laughs, and carries on.

(Also, you can introduce them to the amazing, karaoke-friendly world of Bonnie Tyler.)

2. Make it a Musical Game Night

Rather than “Name That Tune,” play a game called “Name That Artist.” The rule: When a new song starts, the first to identify the artist wins. This game presupposes that a.) Music is on at home, and b.) It is actively listened to.

Rather than background noise, music becomes an integrated part of life, requiring attention, memory, and close listening.  

3. Life is a Musical

Rather than speak in conversation, why not sing? This requires a bit of musical spontaneity on the parent’s part, but you can borrow the melody of a tune you both know, or make up something random.

Next thing you know, everyone will be singing instead of speaking in your home.

To discover the last two ways you can enjoy music as a family, head on over to Piano Power.

Guest Post Author: Lara L.
Lara L. is the communications manager at Piano Power, a Chicago-based music teaching group. Learn more about Piano Power here. 

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The Ultimate Piano Playlist for Spring [Audio]

MO - The Ultimate Piano Playlist for Spring

Do you have spring fever? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares her favorite piano playlist that will get you in the mood for springtime…

Spring is a great time to get inspired after a long, cold winter and learn some new piano songs. The piano is a beautiful instrument that does a great job of capturing spring’s musical elements.

Whether you’re looking for some fresh piano songs to add to your repertoire or you simply want to kick back and relax, this springtime piano playlist will surely inspire you.

Springtime’s Ultimate Piano Playlist

1. It Might as Well be Spring: Composed by (Oscar Hammerstein II – Richard Rodgers)

2. Spring is Here: Bill Evans

3.  Younger Than Springtime: Composed by (Oscar Hammerstein II – Richard Rodgers)

4. Waters of March:  Antonio Carlos Jobim

5. Someday My Prince Will Come:  Snow White

6. April in Paris: Bill Evans

7. Edelweiss:  The Sound of Music

8. Sunshine on My shoulders: John Denver

9. Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Pete Seger

10. Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

11. Sibelius’s Spring Song

12. Walking on Sunshine: Katrina and the Waves

13. If You Steal My Sunshine: Len

14. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Harold Arlen

15. Rainbow Connection: The Muppet Movie

All of the songs featured on this piano playlist incorporate springtime lyrics and joyous melodies that are appropriate to play at any springtime occasion. These songs can also be made into piano arrangements and accompaniment.

If you would like to further develop your piano repertoire for spring, speak with your piano teacher!

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons 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!

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famous piano players

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players [Infographic]

If you’re learning how to play piano, chances are you’ve come across the works of famous piano players, such as Rachmaninov, Beethoven, and Chopin.

But do you know anything about these famous pianists?

Sure these famous piano players wrote and performed some of the most well-known classical music pieces, but their personal lives are equally just as colorful.

For example, did you know that Rachmaninov had enormous hands? Or that Beethoven went deaf at the age of 25?

Check out the infographic below to learn some more interesting facts about the world’s most famous pianists from different eras.

famous piano players

 

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players

1. Sergei Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov is described by many as a brilliant pianist, conductor, and composer.

It’s no wonder Rachmaninov was such a talented piano player, as it’s rumored that he had enormous hands that could span 12 piano keys.

2. Ludwig van Beethoven

Virtuoso pianist and talented composer, Beethoven composed dozens of famous concertos that have withstood the test of time.

He was known for improvising, but at the early age of 25 he lost his hearing, which caused him to hear constant buzzing.

3. Franz Liszt

19th century Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist, Liszt was known for his intense performances.

Much like the Beatles, Liszt had thousands of devoted fans who would turn hysterical during his performances.

4. Frédéric Chopin

One of the most celebrated pianists, Chopin has contributed many significant works.

Those who saw Chopin perform were extraordinary lucky, as the legendary pianist only gave 30 public performances during his entire lifetime.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Who doesn’t think of classical music when they hear the name “Mozart”? While he might have been known for his musicality, Mozart was also famous for his toilet humor.

6. Franz Schubert

While Schubert had a short career, he made an astounding contribution to classical music, having written more than 20,000 bars of music.

Standing at a mere five foot one, Schubert was given the nickname “Schwammerl,” which means little mushroom.

7. Arthur Rubinstein

With remarkable technique and musical logic, Rubinstein was beloved all over the world.

He had the reputation of being a grand storyteller, and was also fluent in eight languages, including English, Polish, Russian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

8. Glenn Gould

Known for his interpretations of Bach, Gould lived a very eccentric life. He was a hypochondriac with obsessive personality traits.

For example, he wore gloves and an overcoat no matter the temperature. He also insisted on performing on the same chair throughout his entire career.

9. Vladimir Horowitz

Considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Horowitz was best known for his performance of works during the Romantic era.

Horowitz’s father believed in his talent so much that he changed his age on his certificate so that he wouldn’t be enlisted in military service.

10. Claudio Arrau

Known for his interpretations of Beethoven, Arrau was a child prodigy. In fact, he could read music before he could read words.

These are just a few interesting facts about the world’s most famous piano players. Now that you know some piano trivia, share your new knowledge with your friends or piano teacher.

Did we miss any fun facts about your favorite famous piano players? Tell us in the comment sections below!

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True or False? Top 7 Piano Myths…Busted!

MO - True or False Top 7 Piano Myths Busted

There are a lot of myths about learning how to play the piano. In this week’s guest post, our friends from OnlinePianist.com dispel the seven most common myths about playing the piano… 

One way to understand how valuable or how popular something is to our society is to understand the fallacies and myths surrounding it.

Quite often, the more famous something is the more stories and pseudo-intellectual facts there happens to be about it.

The piano it seems is not immune to these elaborate false truths. In fact, there are bucket loads of myths.

We have come up with the 7 most famous myths surrounding the piano… and have officially busted them all!

Myth 1: “Children learn faster than adults.”

Not so fast, young grasshopper.

This one sounds like a doozy, except that it’s not true–at least not true enough. You see, according to scientific research, there is actually no discernible difference in terms of learning the piano between children and adults.

So no more excuses saying you “didn’t learn it when you were young so it’s too late now.” What may be true is that a child is less burdened by the stresses of life and thus tends to have less mental clutter.

As a result, when you can finally get them to sit down for more than two minutes without fidgeting, they can more easily focus their ability on learning music. This creates the illusion that children absorb new material faster than adults.

However, unlike adults, children often lack desire and motivation to play, treating piano playing as a chore rather than a pleasure. Thus, it’s this difference in attitude that makes all the difference between adults and kids.

Myth 2: “Long sessions of practice time are best.”

Must. Practice. Piano. And. Not. Move.

We have no idea who started this rumor. Perhaps it was mother goose who just wanted a breather. Probably not. In any case, we all have experienced some degree of psychataxia–or in common-folk language, a disordered mental state with confusion and inability to concentrate–while playing the piano.

The reason is that after about 15 minutes of an activity, the average person becomes mentally fatigued. Therefore, it is actually advisable, contrary to popular belief, to practice for shorter lengths of time rather than a never-ending marathon.

Short bursts of concentration repeated frequently are much more effective and produce optimal results rather than one long session. So, even if you only have 10 minutes to learn piano online, DO IT.

Myth 3: “I should never write in the sheet music.”

Uh…most of the time notes are good.

We understand that many centuries ago, paper was a rare commodity in the form of papyrus. However, we’re quite sure this myth came about long after paper became widely used.

Perhaps it was for the sake of the environment in order to get everyone to use the same piece of paper? Perhaps not. While writing on sheet music may make it look messy, as long as it’s intended for you, you should do what helps you learn best.

After all,  it’s better to have some cranky old lady frowning at your scribbled notes, than to forget the proper fingering at the time of a recital.

Plus, the notes will help drill the information into your brain faster, meaning that you won’t even be needing the doodled notes for very long anyway.

Check out “7 Piano Myths . . . Busted” to read the remaining four myths. 

Guest Post Author: OnlinePianist
OnlinePianist is the only animated online piano tutorial. Here you can find the biggest collection of free piano lessons. The site includes free piano sheet music and notes, piano chords table, lyrics and hundreds of piano songs.

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5 New (and Fun) Piano Practice Warm-Up Routines

MO - 5 New (and Fun) Piano Practice Warm-Up Routines

Are you in search of some new piano practice warm-up routines? Below, piano teacher Liz T. shares some fun piano practice warm-ups you can try before your next practice…

You wouldn’t go for an hour-long run before properly warming up. So, why wouldn’t you warm-up before an hour-long piano practice session or lesson?

No matter what instrument you play,  it’s extremely important that you go through a series of warm-ups before you start playing.

In this post, we will discuss why you should take the time to warm-up before your piano lesson, as well as some fun warm-up exercises you can try.

Why is it Important to Warm-Up Before Piano Practice?

  •  Prevents harmful injuries

Just like an athlete stretches before practice, pianists must also stretch their fingers, wrists, hands, arms, shoulders, and elbows before playing extensively.

If you forget to warm-up your muscles, you could end up with a painful injury (i.e. carpal tunnel, tendinitis, arthritis, etc) that could take you out of the game for weeks, or worse, months!

  • Repetitive muscle memory

Your fingers, wrists, and hands must be accustomed to the different motions you use while playing. If you haven’t practiced the piano for some time, the motions may feel very strange and awkward.

Warming up will help get your muscles accustomed to playing fast and slow tempos, long and short phrases, and challenging melodic patterns, or chord changes/inversions.

  • Improves ear training and harmony

As a pianist, you must be aware of music theory and be able to analyze what you’re playing. Warming up with scales and chord progressions are a great way to start training your ear.

The more you warm-up with different scales and chords on a regular basis, the better your knowledge of music theory will become.

5 Fun Piano Practice Warm-Up Exercises

1. Sing along with intervals

When warming up with intervals, try singing along to a familiar song. From Ascending to Descending, there are many songs that you may already know.

Singing these songs while you practice and recognizing intervals on the keys will help. Below are some examples:

  • Minor 2nd Ascending: Jaws, Pink Panther, White Christmas.
  • Minor 2nd Descending: Fur Elise, O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, Jurassic Park.
  • Major 2nd Ascending: Happy Birthday, Silent Night, Frere Jacques.
  • Major 2nd Descending: Mary Had a Little Lamb, The First Noel.
  • Minor 3rd Ascending: So Long Farewell (Sound of Music), Lullaby (Brahms), The Impossible Dream (Man of La Mancha)
  • Minor 3rd Descending: This Old Man, Jesus Loves Me, Misty.
  • Major 3rd Ascending: Saints Go Marching In, Morning Has Broken, Kumbaya.
  • Major 3rd Descending: Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Summertime, Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me.
  • Perfect 4th Ascending: Here Comes the Bride, Amazing Grace, Auld lang syne
  • Perfect 4th Descending: O Come All Ye Faithful, George of the Jungle, Hallelujah from the Messiah.

2.  Chromatics

With a partner,  practice the Chromatic scale, ascending and descending in different keys. While your partner closes his or her eyes, play the scale, skipping a note of your choosing.

Your partner will  have to guess which interval/note you were playing. Do this multiple times, skipping different notes. Then switch positions and have your partner challenge you.

3. Major/Minor

With a friend or your piano teacher, create  your own bingo/roll the dice game. On the board game, label pictures of the major and minor scales and chords without it’s scale name.

You will then have to recognize which scale or chord it is, and play it on the piano. Challenge yourself with both major and minor scales, and then reward yourself with something fun like stickers, candy or trading cards!

4. Rhythmic

Create your own rhythms first by clapping, and then playing them on a single note on the piano. For instance, “two eight notes, then a whole night, then a four sixteenth notes.”

Then grab yourself some staff paper, and divide bar lines, and transcribe what comes to your ear. Once you’ve created a short 8 bar rhythm, play the whole rhythm. Then add a specific melody, and you’ve got yourself an original song!

5. Favorite song

Pick a song you know well, perhaps a song that you’ve performed before. Some of my favorites in the past have included, Fur Elise, Prelude to the Well-Tempered Clavichord, The Entertainer, and The Piano Man.

Use this song as your mantra or meditation before and after your piano practice. Analyze the song by envisioning the chords, inversions, voicings, melodic and rhythmic patterns, scales, and modes.

Pay attention to the dynamics and tempo markings in the form of the song. Once you have analyzed your favorite piece, challenge yourself to memorize the piece measure by measure.

Then once you feel comfortable, play the entire song each practice session by memory. This will not only help you keep up with your theory, but also with your performance skills.

Now It’s Your Turn!

I hope you will find these piano practice warm-up exercises fun and useful! Next time you have a few minutes before your practice session, try one of these exercises.

LizTPost Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons 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 Tulane Public Relations

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Gamification in Education: It’s Time Education Leveled Up [Infographic]

Explore the exciting world of education through gamification. See how and why it works on kids and adults for improved retention, knowledge, and more in this guest post from our friends at JoyTunes…

How many students have been scolded by parents to put their video game away and get their homework done?

It’s been a common household quarrel for decades, but kids across the globe are finally celebrating the new data that supports gamification as a means of advanced education and learning.

Check out how it’s being applied to students young and old who are learning to play the piano for the first time.

Gamification: What it is & Why it Works

Gamification is the process of utilizing gaming elements outside the standard gaming model to present an idea or achieve a goal. In the field of education, gamification is currently being used to help students learn better.

Jane McGonigal enlightens the world to the benefits of education through gamification in her TED Talk here:

In short, gamification techniques allow students to relate to the material and learning process in a whole new way, a way that is more engaging, interactive, attractive, and quite frankly, fun.

Kids and adults can tackle issues from new angles, relate to the assignment more personally, visualize the problem at hand, organize and compartmentalize tasks, and achieve success based on motivating factors that speak to the individual.

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Gamification

Here are a few facts about gamification that might clue you into the popularity, efficacy, and power of this under-utilized educational tool:

  • By 2015, the gamification industry is projected to exceed $2 billion dollars, while the projected rates are meant to reach $5.5 billion by 2018.
  • Close to 80% of students unilaterally stated that a more game-like atmosphere would increase productivity.
  • 89% of people polled liked the point system for upping their engagement during an eLearning app session. People enjoy the charge that comes from scoring points, out ranking others, and being able to measure their accomplishments with concrete numbers.
  • Skill-based knowledge assessments increased 14%, factual knowledge went up 11%, and retention was even improved by 9% for adults who used eLearning tools with gamification.
  • Of course, not all gamification methods work as well as others. Some less popular techniques for getting the job done (or in this case the lesson learned) included receiving virtual gifts, being part of a story, and avatars.

Gamification in Education

Music Gamified

Learning to play the piano or any instrument is a challenge, no doubt. But mastering this beautiful art is easier, more manageable, and a lot more fun when you combine the strengths and incentives implied by gamification to your music lessons.

Innovative music apps, like JoyTunes, use gamification to help kids and adults learn to play an instrument faster. The principles are simple:

  • Games make learning more fun: The piano lesson is taught in the form of a game.
  • We all like earning points: Points are gained when scales are performed properly.
  • Games require repetition: Repetition makes for good music incorporation and learning. Hence, games equal excellent musical training grounds.

Pretty smart, huh?

Give it a Try!

The infographic above tells the long story of gamification at a glance. The extent of this processing is yet to be discovered, but one thing can be said of gamification for sure: those who tap into this innovative method for teaching, learning, and training are guaranteed to see extraordinary results.

And those that don’t…well, they’ll just be left in the dark.

Guest Post Author: Mya Achidov
This is a guest post from JoyTunes. Mya Achidov is the Blog Editor-in-Chief at JoyTunes, a company that develops award-winning apps to teach you how to play music.

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5 Ways to Sneak Piano Practice into Your Busy Schedule

 

Is your crazy schedule making it difficult for you to find time to practice piano? Below, piano teacher Julie P. shares five creative ways you can sneak piano practice into your busy schedule…

You want to improve your piano playing skills, but your busy schedule doesn’t allow time for you to practice as much as you should.

Between school, work, and extracurricular activities, your schedule fills up fast. Just because you have a busy schedule, however, doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in some piano practice.

If you get creative enough, you can find more time than you thought. Below are five ways to sneak piano practice into your busy schedule.

5 Ways to Sneak Piano Practice into Your Busy Schedule

You don’t need long blocks of time to practice the piano. Piano practice is actually more effective if you break it up into shorter sessions over a longer period of time.

In doing so, your brain has time to process what you’ve learned in between your piano sessions. Instead of practicing for an hour one or two times a week, find five or six 10-20 minute chunks of time throughout the week.

For example, it might work well for you to practice for 20 minutes every morning before school. Or maybe you can practice 10 minutes before work and another 10 minutes after work each day.

The key to shorter practice sessions is to set smaller achievable goals. Pick one thing on your practice assignment and only practice that one thing. You might even focus on just one section of a piece, rather than the whole piece.

Your time on the bus or in the car can be used to improve your piano skills. For example, flash cards are great for reinforcing note-reading and other musical terms and symbols.

You can find hundreds of free, printable flash cards at Pianimation. Another great option for the car or train is a silent keyboard. It’s very useful for practicing scales or other simple songs and exercises.

For those days when your busy schedule has you exhausted and you don’t have the energy to sit down at the piano, there are a lot of great piano apps you can play.

Piano Maestro from JoyTunes, for example, is a fantastic iPad app that you can use in conjunction with your piano or keyboard. The app has a large library of songs for all playing levels and different genres.

For each song, the sheet music scrolls across the screen while the app plays accompaniment music. You play the notes as they go by, either using the keyboard provided on the screen of your iPad or your own piano.

At the end, you get points on how well you did and progress through the different score levels. This app requires a subscription fee, but teachers and their students can use it for free.

Another great iPad app for kids is SproutBeat. It has hundreds of music theory worksheets that kids can complete right on the screen by drawing with their fingers.

You can even print out worksheets to take in the car. The app comes with 20 free worksheet downloads and charges a flat fee for complete access to their library.

Any time your ears are free, you can work on your piano and musicality skills. The more quality piano music you listen to, the more you learn about what great piano playing is.

For instance, you can learn a lot about tone quality, the dynamic range of the piano, or what great rhythmic accuracy is, all from listening.

Try to find high quality recordings of the pieces you’re learning. If you can’t find recordings of your pieces, ask your piano teacher to make some quick recordings for you.

Even browsing through YouTube to hear more advanced pieces can be a great way to get a better sense of great piano playing, and get inspired to practice at the same time.

If your free time for practicing is too early in the morning or too late at night to be making noise at the piano, you can use mental practice.

For mental practice, you look at your music and visualize in your mind the arm and finger movements for playing it. This might be tricky at first, but you’ll get better at it the more you practice it.

If you try mental practice, you’ll be amazed at how much better you play your music the next time you sit down at the piano.

Your Turn!

Now that you know how to get more piano practicing into your busy schedule, go find 10 minutes that you can practice today.

Even better, make a plan for the next week to get in those smaller practice sessions and try one of the other practice methods that will fit into your schedule.

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!

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