Outside reading projects
Found in: Reading
Ruth P., North Carolina
As your students get in the upper foundation levels, what reading projects do you like to give? Are there certain books that you found to be appropriate, or specific pieces?
Robin Keehn, Washington
Just to get things started I use 60 Progressive Pieces You Love to Play (Hal Leonard). It’s a good book to cycle back and forth to. I follow the students, meaning that if they love classical, we find things that are developmentally appropriate. Right now, I have students working on all types of music, from pop songs to jazz standards, to classical and hymns. My philosophy is that is they love it, they’ll be happy to learn it. As to specific pieces, classical students seem to enjoy The Spinning Song, pieces by Beethoven, (there are plenty of versions of his pieces that have been arranged), Clementi, Mozart. If students want contemporary pieces, we’ll look them up online together and I’ll help them pick an appropriate version.
Stephen R., California
I like the Essential Rep series. It has 11 progressive levels including a CD. I use either the Prep Level (or Level 1) alongside Time for More Music.
Carrie L., Michigan
I use Catherine Rollin pieces. Sometimes my students bring in what they want to learn as well.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I also like 60 Progressive Pieces – so many songs in there that bring back memories for me, but also there’a a nice range of difficulty levels in the book.
I have also used the “Library of…(Piano Classics, Piano Favorites, Easy Piano Classics, etc)” repertoire books, which have a TON of songs in them. I have mostly used the ‘Easy’ ones so far, which really are not that easy.
I have a class that has learned a bunch of songs from a Harry Potter piano book and includes songs from all the movies. They all enjoy HP so we picked that one together.
I also look at sheet music regularly and have several that I like to use. A few of my favorites:
* Allegro Agitato by Scott Price (Alfred)
* Nine Blind Mice by Willard A., Palmer (Alfred)
* Supernova by Ronald Bennett (Willis)
* Theme and Variations on Bach’s Minuet in G by E. L. Lancaster (Alfred). This one is particularly fun because it’s the Minuet we teach in Levels 2 & 3. The variations are all in different musical styles – classical (Mozart-y), romantic (Chopin-y), contemporary, and ragtime.
There’s one called Dream Echoes by E. L. Lancaster (Alfred) that I use much earlier. I introduce that after the first 3 or 4 songs in Time for More Music, usually in Level 6.
Other pieces that I use around Level 6-7-8 are:
*The Matador (Willis Music Co) – great project for many different reasons
* Mystic Prelude (FJH)
* Over the Rainbow ‘Easy’ Piano Edition (Alfred) – really nice arrangement
* Thank you, Ludwig (Alfred) – a ‘thank you’ from Elise to Beethoven for writing Fur Elise – students like this as it’s a very similar structure to Fur Elise.
I want to clarify that I don’t use all of these with every student! I pick and choose from these according to the age, needs, and interests of students. Also, a piece of sheet music makes a great, inexpensive holiday gift to reading students.
Cheri S., Utah
Quality learning pieces in many styles: Piano for Busy Teens (Alfred), written by Melody Bober and Lancaster).
* Jazz, Rage, & Blues (Martha Meier)
* Musical Snapshots (Martha Meier) – motifs from around the world, lots of different styles, excellent musical quality and universal appeal
* Supersonics Piano website (Daniel McFarlane) – tons of catchy, pattern-based songs that sound harder than they are; his style is especially motivating for boys but fun for everyone.
* First Favorite Classics (Lancaster & Renfrow) – a first book of classical pieces, many student favorites
* Melodious Masterpieces & Masterpieces with Flair (Jan Magrath) – two excellent classical collections selected for the way they inspire students (Early Intermediate through Intermediate level)
* Castle Days (Kathleen Massoud) – sheet music, a gorgeous piece with a mature, movie-music sound, teens love it, very pattern-based and easy to learn
Dan Coates is the master of TV and movie arrangements, with Easy Piano versions that fully capture the feel of the soundtrack. They’re not super hard to learn, but even more advanced readers will find them completely satisfying.
“Easy Piano” doesn’t usually work right out of the gate, but teens can learn at this level several months after finishing RN, after they have some solid reading practice under their belts. I’d say “Easy Piano” usually matches an Early Intermediate to Intermediate level.
NOTE: most of these could be started soon after finishing the Reading Notes program – Late Elementary through Early Intermediate level.
Julia B., Canada
I use many of the ones mentioned about (Spinning Song, Martha Meier, Beach Buggie Boogie really builds nicely on SM blues). I love the SM White and Blue Christmas. I love it best when they bring in their own stuff, because motivation is at an all-time high. My students like and have brought in: Moonlight Sonata, The Entertainer, Star Wars pieces, 21 Pilots pieces, Out of Darkness (Star Trek), Victor’s Piano Solo, He’s a Pirate, I Am the Doctor (from Doctor Who). If they can’t find the music, then I will go to one of the sheet music places and help them find a version at their level.
I also assign things from the Duet Series (Elizabeth Gaikwad) and the Arrangement 2 or 3 books (many of which can also be used as duets), since I usually haven’t taught all of these in class. I find that, because they are building on the Foundation program, the kids don’t feel as intimidated and the duet aspect is really fun once they get rolling! Especially great for siblings near the same level.