Tis the season for busyness to take over….especially for our youth who are finishing up school for the next couple weeks with tests and projects. After the hard work of our holiday recitals was complete, AJ’s Music Factory piano students participated in a creative adventure of arranging Jingle Bells based upon ideas from their recital pieces. We wanted to let creativity flow in a fun, stress-free environment to enjoy the music this time of year when all seems to get a bit hectic.
During the week of the recital, students were presented with a lead sheet for Jingle Bells in the key of C Major with the assignment to come back with it comfortably learned for the next lesson. For some younger students this was the first time being given a lead sheet, so this offered a learning opportunity for reading this form of written music (melody line written out with chord symbols on top). Upon arrival to their lesson last week, they worked hard on creating their own version of Jingle Bells. As a starting ground we looked at their recital piece to analyze how the composer had arranged the piece. What was the chord structure? Did they use an intro? An outro? If so, what did they do to make it interesting? How did the left hand move? Where was the melody placed? What rhythm is used? What time signature is this song? So on and so forth we went. We then used these ideas to meld together each student’s original Jingle Bells.
Most students went home to finish the piece, and then they sent a video back with their final arrangement. Extra bonus: some of them even have their beautiful Christmas tree in the background of their video! Some points I found interesting through this assignment:
- Students become VERY motivated when they know they are going to be put on YouTube and the AJ’s Music Factory blog. They all wanted to put their best musical step forward to present their work.
- Students love being able to create. Instinctively students are creative beings, and as educators it is our responsibility to nurture this instinct and not allow it to be set to the wayside. Creativity is highly encouraged at our studio.
- Students found great pride in their arrangements. Every. Single. One. I was amazed by the ownership students took of their pieces. By the end of the lesson they were beaming with what they had accomplished.
Video taping students offers a lesson all on it’s own as students can see both their strengths and weaknesses. As a teacher I can remind a student 50 times that their fourth finger needs to be curved, strengthened, etc, but it’s amazing how quickly they want to change it once they SEE it. Watching the video also allows for us to catch all the wonderful strengths in their playing and how far they have come in their musical training.
Enjoy a few of our Jingle Bells arrangements in the video below and have a wonderful holiday season!!