Over my years of teaching, I’ve come across several lists of tunes to harmonize using primary chords. Often, however, they’re either not very comprehensive, or they include a lot of tunes that students these days have never heard because they only include folk tunes and a couple of Christmas songs.
Last summer I started a studio-wide harmonization focus that lasted through the summer and fall. After continually having students look at the song list and shake their head that they didn’t know many of the songs, I finally decided it was time to compile my own list.
This comprehensive list includes 147 tunes (traditional, popular, and Christmas). The list progresses from tunes you can harmonize using only the tonic chord, to tunes that use four chords (I, IV, V, vi).
The tunes are, of course, mostly in major (because, well, we live in the Western World), but there are some minor tunes as well.
Keep in mind, these are not tunes tied to any particular chord progression such as I-IV-V-I or I-vi-IV-V. It’s up to the person harmonizing to figure out what chords to use and when.
First, let’s talk a little about what it means to harmonize and how to teach harmonization.
While this was not one of the top posts, the addition of the monthly “Secret Letter” was the biggest addition to Piano Pantry this year and the one thing that has excited me (and still excites me) the most.
Writing them is a highlight of my month (and hopefully it’s a highlight for readers as well!). They feel like a special piece of me delivered right into your hands.
If you would like to subscribe, you can do so here.
Writing posts like these the last couple of years have been very enlightening, encouraging and really just a healthy exercise in gratitude in general.
The idea behind the “Piano Teacher World” recap is to take a look back at significant news, happenings, and impact in the world of independent piano teachers. The final part of this post also includes resources that have made a direct impact on my own teaching.
I tried to be as thorough as I could and will admit that the list is much smaller than it was last year. Be sure and share in the comments if there was anything you would add to the list!
For the sake of being thorough, I asked for recommendations on multiple Facebook groups and received a lot of excellent feedback on The Art of Piano Pedagogy group regarding overall trends – all of which I agree with. Let’s start with those. (If you’re interested in reading all the comments, which are much more specific, check out the full post here.)
1 | Declining or leveled-off interest in iPads and apps. Better balance and understanding in the role they play in lessons.
2 | Teaching and learning piano online is becoming more and more viable and easily available.
3 | A shift in attitude and growing excitement toward rote teaching/learning.
4 | Increased curiosity and interest in Music Learning Theory and how it can impact piano teaching, not just Early Childhood Music.
5 | Continually improved quality and ease-of-availability in regards to self-published material.
6 | Rising interested in quality blogs, podcasts, and online communities.
7| Continual professionalization of the field.
8 | A renewed interest in pedagogy outside of academia.
9 | Ongoing concerns with declining membership in professional organizations such as MTNA.
A teacher friend shared this one specifically with me. She has always loved Marvin Blickenstaff’s method “Music Pathways” and Paul Sheftel’s MIDI accompaniment for the series. She says there are lots of good compositions by Lynn Freeman Olson.
THE FRANCIS CLARK CENTERis continuing to see changes as Dr. PamelaPike was named the new Editor in Chief/Chief Content Director and Dr. Andrea McAlister was appointed as the new Director of Content Curation and Senior Editor for Clavier Companion.
On the assignment sheet I’m currently using with students there is a practice reflection that also includes a space for students to write down a piece they would like to learn.
“What piece would you like to learn?” is one of my favorite questions on the practice diary. Not only is it an opportunity for the student to communicate their musical interests with me, but it’s opened my eyes to new music. It’s amazing to see how many students push themselves to learn to play repertoire much harder than their “level” – especially when it’s a song they really want to play.
One of my students who plays around the late-intermediate level recently wanted to play Rocket Man. Musicnotes.com is my go-to place for all individual song requests. The arrangement I found for her has proven to be an excellent study in syncopation and is challenging her rhythm skills.
Perhaps you have a student who may enjoy it as well?
Perhaps more than any other time of year, Christmas is a time when we, as a society, make music together the most. Whether it’s caroling, singing Christmas music in church, or as a family in the car while you drive to grandma’s house, there’s just something about Christmas music that encourages music-making together.
So if with our voices, why not also with our instruments? Each year, the week before Christmas we have group classes in my studio. These classes are the perfect opportunity for ensemble playing.
In this post, I will share a few go-to resources I use in my piano studio so my students can make music as a group. The books and music mentioned in this post do not include duet repertoire, or piano trio’s (such as piano, cello, violin), only piano ensembles of three or more.
I’m lucky enough to have four keyboards in my studio we can use which is, of course, ideal but not always realistic. If you don’t have four keyboards, don’t despair – there are options here for you and ways you can equip your students to make music together!
Granted, this is exactly a “piano ensemble” but it felt fitting to include in this post because it’s so incredible.
Downloadable Sheet Music Ensembles
Susan Paradis has several Piano Triosavailable on her website.
She also has a Jingle Bells Duet with Rhythm Ensemble that, while it’s a piano duet, includes an ensemble of 4 rhythm instruments. This is a fun ensemble to use during group class with elementary students especially.
What I AM here to do is to share some fun postcard ideas I came across in my quest for this years postcards!
Colorful Mandala Postcard
The first few years of sending my student’s postcards, I just bought packs of postcards from Arts United Supply.
Last year though it was time to change things up, so I used Susan Hong’s beautiful Mandala Postcards. It’s a downloadable studio license for $10 and you get both the color version and the black and white version which would be fun for students to color.
Recently I put together a book of my student’s compositions to display in my studio. When visiting my friend Joy Morin’s studio during her piano teacher retreat, I noticed a book of student compositions she had sitting in her waiting area and thought it was a fun idea!
Today I’m giving you a free printable of the binder cover.
Why a Book of Compositions?
A few students in my studio absolutely love composing. Luckily, our state MTA hosts a composition festival every year called “Opus” where students can submit a composition and receive feedback from a judge. The winner in each age category then gets their composition submitted to theMTNA Composition Competition for free and gets to perform their composition at the next state conference in the winners’ recital.
Students put so much time and effort into their pieces, displaying them keeps their work present and valued. It’s also a great way to help generate awareness of not only the Opus program but in composing in general. Students could sit down at one of the studio keyboards and play through each other’s music!
A Glimpse of the Book
Keeping it simple, I used a 1″ 3-ring binder. Each composition was printed and placed in plastic sleeve covers. Compositions that were winners got an award seal stickeron it and I wrote the year it was the winning composition.
How many manipulatives, games, and other resources do you have in your music studio?
You probably don’t even have to count to know the answer. A lot! Am I right?
Keeping track of all our teaching resources can be a daunting task.
Lesson planning for private and group classes can be enough work in itself without having to continuously recall and rehash all the different manipulatives and games we have each time we plan.
After finding myself physically walking back and forth regularly to my game files, flashcard box and such, I decided it was time to put together a master list of every activity or manipulative I had or could use to teach a concept.
It can be very easy to lose track of what we already have. Having a document like this has allowed me to not only have an easy place to reference what activities I could utilize at any given time, but it was an awesome snapshot and inventory of what I owned.
Keeping a master list is also a great place to keep teaching ideas that may not necessarily have physical items to accompany the activity.
I thought you might find this document useful as well.
The Master List
Since it is a document that I update on a regular basis I decided to simply share the public link to a Google Doc. Keep in mind that it’s a working document so it’s possible I will add to, edit, and even remove items as time goes by.
There are three ways you could utilize this document
If you want to keep the document as is and not risk being at the mercy of my future edits, you could download it.
If you want to always see the updated version, I would recommend bookmarking the link in your browser (or in Evernote :-). This way you simply click on the link and you always see the most updated version.
If you wanted to create your own list you could even copy and paste into your own document to get you started and create your own version with the materials you have!
I’m working on hyperlinking directly to every item on the list if it’s available. It’s not complete but I have a good start.
May this document help you add a little more sanity to your lesson planning and studio organizational life. 🙂
Hey there! Welcome to Piano Pantry where we talk about piano teaching, loving food, and living life. I'm Amy, my husband Drew and I live in Indiana. My favorite things include Mexican food, reading, organizing, and spending time with those I love.