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Enjoy Playing Piano The Creative Way

This program is the latest series of workshops that we are embarking on to encourage music students to creatively apply their musical ideas to a piece of music and perform it. In doing so, we hope to open their minds to a world of musical joy that they can derived from having learned music. There is talent in everyone but any talent will stay unseen and unheard unless allowed to shine. We hope that we can interest the students at this workshop to get creative with their music and enjoy what they are doing.

The students are of Grade 3 level and above. The theme of the workshop requires the students to attempt arranging a simple piece of music employing the musical knowledge and experience they have had so far. Through the years studying music theory and playing various styles of music, the students should have quite many ideas to use in their arrangement.

For this program, the students are to select a piece from Playing Piano Is Fun Book 4 and arrange it according to their skill level. The workshop discuses, offers and explores various ideas that the students can use in their arrangement. Examples using various ideas were also demonstrated at the piano.

Such an event is a completely new experience for these students. It is a start that hopefully will have a long term positive effect on the students. We just want students to enjoy learning and performing music.

The video clip below shows a young student at the workshop performing his arrangement of a simple 16 bar song titled 'The Grinning Cheshire-Cat' on page 26 of the Playing Piano Is Fun Book 4.

Musical play time using music theory.

Creating musical activities to reinforce the learning of music rudiments and basic theory is one way for teachers to assess whether their students can understand and apply what they have learned. Rhythmic activities are the easiest to begin with for a large group of these young primary school students.

Having completed about eight lessons with these students, they are put through this activity to apply music theory in a musical manner. The concept is simple and there are many ways to carry out this activity. The entire class can be involved in this activity.

What to do:
1. Pick a student or have a student volunteer to create a one-bar rhythm using all the theory he/she has learned so far. Write this on the board for all to see.
2. Specify the time signature or let the student decide.
3. The student then performs the rhythm he/she has created using a percussion instrument and ask the class if it was done correctly.
4. Or pick another student to perform the rhythm and have the class verify if it was done correctly.

The activity can be made more interesting in the following manner:
1. Pick between two to four (or more) students.
2. Specify the time signature or let the students decide.
3. Ask each student to create a one-bar rhythm on the board in that time signature.
4. Each student selects a percussion instrument and performs the rhythm that he/she has created together with the rest.
5. Or assign each student with another student's rhythm and perform together.

During such an activity, each student has to:
1. Stay focused on the rhythm he/she has to perform.
2. Listen to the other students in the group to stay coordinated and perform in time (not slow down, speed up or stall).
3. Learn about the percussion they have chosen to use.

Such musical activities are exciting and fun for the students as some pressure is felt by each student creating the one-bar rhythm and having to perform it as well.

Obviously, the rest of the students will surely be alert checking and verifying if the rhythm is written and performed correctly. It is a good way for all to learn and apply their knowledge of music rudiments and music theory.

This activity can be the start of a percussion ensemble that can involve the entire class. To get everyone in the class involved:
1. The students who created the rhythms will assume the role as team leaders.
2. Each team leader is assigned a group of students to lead.
3. Each team leader has to teach and rehearse the rhythm with his/her group.
4. Once ready, every group will then perform together.

Give all students, even the younger ones, the opportunity to be a team leader. Of course, the younger students will need the teacher's help as most may not be capable yet of actually leading a group. Such activities can hopefully empower the students with confidence, develop leadership qualities and skills, etc. that is relevant to developing their attitude, aptitude and personality. This development takes time and all that is needed is to do lots of musical activities that involves all the students in different roles.