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Teaching creativity (improv, reharm, rhythmic motifs) using Let It Go (Frozen) (Read 2929 times)

Offline creationrage

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I'm a new piano teacher coming from a classical and jazz background. I had an interview with a piano teacher (who rejected me because of my lack of experience) who said a lot of kids want to learn Let It Go, but the sheet music is too hard for them. I like to teach my students songs they want to learn by ear, at varying degrees of difficulty, so hearing this was odd to me.  I teach at another school now, and I've had a bunch of students wanting to learn Let It Go, so I made a version to show them that music is not all about reading notes.

To me, music is about understanding the underlying structures so that you can innovate and transcend the usual musical experiences. Please check this out and let me know what you think! Is this an effective way to reach the kids?


Offline dcstudio

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Hi  -- nice chops!!!  8) great vid but you look upside down--might wanna go with the overhead angle on the camera.  Sounds like you dig Chick Corea...may I say WOW-- you scary!

I'm a jazz/classical old piano teacher --  I have had success reaching some kids with this strategy


I help them to compose a fun song-- usually a simple blues...but any form will do.  I give them nothing to read--only a chord chart written out on notebook paper. We concentrate on musicality--even rhythms, dynamics, that sort of thing--walking bassline, interesting comping patterns. chord voicings and generally just sounding cool. I make sure that they are enjoying what they are playing and it is easy for them...then --I record them directly from the digital piano into Cubase (often times without their knowledge)-- and then I hand them the score.   I love the look of utter disbelief on their faces when they view the notated version of what they have just played.    I tell them to never let their eyes tell them if the music is "too hard."     Their enthusiasm tends to get really high after that.  They not only start to believe that they can play--but that I, their teacher, might actually know what I am talking about...lol.

As a bonus I put the student's name on the sheet music make it look nice and send it home to mom and dad...     ;) they pay for the lessons... so keep them happy, too.


your philosophy is right on...  I am a fan. :)   


Offline creationrage

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Thanks a lot dcstudio, that was really helpful! I currently have a student who never practices but likes playing Elvis, so I transcribed some of "Jailhouse Rock" for him in class. The problem is, he likes to play by ear and doesn't like reading (like most students I have come across) so I am planning to just take the reading part out of his curriculum. It's better to have a student who loves playing but can't read than one that quits altogether or never practices. I teach my jazz students primarily with a focus on rhythm, as it is the hardest to develop but usually worked on the least. I am planning on using your blues/composition method, thanks for that :)

Oh and yes I love Chick Corea! Most of my chops come from Kenny Werner's teachings (as well as my classical background). I hear you on that camera angle, since then I have raised the camera to be directly overhead!

Offline dcstudio

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Kenny Werner is the man.  I love the way he puts things---"love every sound you make, then you never hit a wrong key,"  He is an amazing teacher and player.   I had the privilege of studying with Dan Haerle (of Jamie Aebersold fame) at UNT way back when.  I was a classical player who couldn't play a note unless it was written out in front of me--improvisation was incomprehensible--those two teachers literally "turned on the light" for me.

I still watch Kenny's vids--and I learn something new every time.

Keep that Elvis kid playing...  teach him boogie-woogie basslines and patterns and let him rock.  I teach the ear players to read chord charts--I have also noticed that the ear players have a high aptitude for theory.  Good old ear-training and dictation goes a long way.    I have even taught some classical tunes to those who refuse to read --  If they stick with it I find that most reach the point where they want to learn to sight-read.

I am glad we met! You are a great player and teacher  ;D




Offline creationrage

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I am glad we met as well! Thanks a lot for the great feedback and ideas! I'm going to start fresh with the Elvis kid and give him some chord charts once I teach him some chords!

I'll have to check out Dan Haerle, I'm always looking for new ways to expand upon jazz coming from a classical background. Have you heard of Jean-Michel Pilc? He is my other teacher that really helped me especially with ear training and rhythm, and my overall understand of music (melody, bassline, and "the filling", as he says).