Three Ways to Use a Storybook During Piano Lessons

Three Ways to Use a Storybook During Piano Lessons

I often teach piano to very young students, and I have a variety of teaching tools to help me with that task.

Out of my entire piano teaching toolbox, there are two tools that never fail me. The first one is a stuffed animal mascot named Buddy. I’ve written about Buddy’s lesson helping skills here.

The other no-fail tool to engage young students is a good old-fashioned storybook!

1. Use a Storybook for Improvisational Composing

This is a fun way to introduce young students to the idea of composing.

Read a page of a fun storybook and have the student compose a short phrase or two to go along with what you’ve read. How would it sound when Alice falls down the rabbit hole? Maybe a chromatic scale can help the prince climb up the tower using Rapunzel’s hair.

2. Use a Storybook for Reinforcing Major and Minor Finger Patterns and Chords

If you’re trying to teach the difference between major and minor, break out the storybook!

Have the student play either a major or minor patter after each page you read, depending on which one best fits the mood of the story.

Is Yertle the Turtle causing his fellow turtles some grief? Better break out the minor chords.

Harry Potter just caught the Golden Snitch? It’s time for a major finger pattern!

3. Use a Storybook to Inspire a Recital Theme

Kids (and a lot of adults!) love stories. If you’re looking for a new recital theme to get them more excited about playing in front of an audience, this might be the ticket.

Have your students bring along their favorite stuffed animal friend to the piano bench for a recital themed after Corduroy by Don Freeman. Alternatively, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis would be a great jumping off point for a repertoire of fantasy pieces.

Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas would make a really cute theme for a Christmas performance. You could have your students play “Where Are You Christmas?”, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, and, of course, the iconic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”.

Have you ever used a storybook as a piano teaching prop? If so, I’d love to hear your best tips!

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