My first instrumental lessons were piano lessons. Taught first by my mom who assisted me in mastered a few basics.
Sensing I was serious, they arranged for me to take lessons with Martha Francis. Mrs. Francis used the “Robert Pace Piano Series” for much of my material. Along with classical piano literature, these books taught me transposition, theory, and composition which were of GREAT interest to me.
My favorite part in my lesson books was composition. As I grew, my mom would require I practice a certain amount then I was allowed to play whatever I liked. I would get lost creating music at the keyboard.
When possible we would attend community concerts that often included pianist. Sitting where I could watch their hands at the keyboard was my goal whenever possible.
September is National Piano Month!
Given my background, this is a month I enjoy observing. In 1991 Schroeder of the Peanuts was appointed official spokesman for the month with a mission to “encourage people of all ages to study and appreciate piano music.” Appreciating the piano can take many forms.
Beyond recitals and listening to classical piano works (both of these can be tons of fun) there is much to enjoy.
If you work with children, they may find pianos to be fascinating. (I am referring to traditional acoustic pianos for these ideas.) Some may enjoy watch the mechanism as it is played (if you can open it). Some may enjoy feel the vibrations as they sit next to or under the sounding board.
Here’s an idea that can be used with traditional or electronic keyboards. Explore playing. (One of my sisters gets her children to play in a more controlled manner by asking them to play one finger at a time.) Think of all the fine motor control playing requires!
If you work with elders, many may have taken lessons or had a family member who played. They may recall player pianos with the paper rolls, a variety of styles of playing from honky-tonk to classical. Share clips like this one to discuss their preferences and memories!
Pianos have a history of over 300 years and can be beautiful to look at as well as to hear. Check out the sources provided by the Piano Technicians Guild.
Discuss famous pianist
Elders in particular will enjoy discussions. Here are so topics and resources to check out.
- Classical lovers may recognize this list by Limelight which included videos of the artists. Absent from this list is Van Cliburn who in my opinion who was a wonderful performer and established an international competition which has helped launch many careers. And, one of my favorite comedians Victor Borge lives on in video available for purchase as well as clips like this one on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWqFaGwNCMU
- Jazz music has had many influential pianist. This list on About.com is a nice starter. Digital Dream Door has a list of 100.
- Country Music has also had many famous pianist. Lee Bloom has created this list. Thanks for the Music has a nice post on the piano in country music.
Songs about pianos
For as standard as pianos may seem, I lack a children’s song about pianos. (Guess it’s time to do some composing.) Here are some songs adults might recognize and enjoy discussing.
- Piano Man by Billy Joel
- I Love Piano by Irving Berlin
- Piano Picker by the Carpenters
- Old Piano Plays the Blues as performed by Nat King Cole
- The Piano Bird by the Doors
- Upright Piano by The Nitty Gritty Dirty Band
- Stone Piano by Steely Dan
- Who’s Gonna Play This Old Piano? by Jerry Lee Lewis
- Schroeder from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown!”
- Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Have fun celebrating National Piano Month! If you have more ideas, add them in the comments below.
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