September Teacher’s Guide
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Compose like J.S. Bach
Students can try to write a piece in the style of Bach by following these ideas.
1. One of the important features of Baroque music is using a rhythmic or melodic motive (also called the theme or subject) many times throughout a piece. To come up with a motive, start with the rhythm. Pick a simple rhythm pattern.
2. After they have created the rhythm, they should think of what key they would like to use for the composition. If they want the music to sound sad, try a minor key. Joyful or happy music is probably in a major key. Then think of some good pitches to go with the rhythmic pattern. If it’s in C major, it should start on one of the notes of the C major chord. Use the rhythmic pattern several times within the subject. This melody will open the piece and will be played with one hand.
3. The other hand can come in while the first theme is being played, or it can wait until the theme is fully introduced. Often Baroque composers would repeat the theme a fifth higher.
4. Next add a new theme to play during the return of the first theme. This is called counterpoint (two melodies playing at the same time.) Make the two themes sound related by including some of the same elements in the rhythm or melody.
5. Continue the composition by using parts of the motive or the whole motive many more times, starting from different keys. Have students listen to Bach’s Two-Part Inventions for inspiration.
2017-2018 Schedule of Composers
September: J.S. Bach
February: Spanish Composers
The 2018 Piano Explorer Composition Contest theme will be announced in the January 2018 issue. We will not provide contest information prior to that. We will feature the music of different countries in upcoming issues and there will be features on additional composers in the months that their countries are covered.
Answers to September Puzzles
Composer Path Game (page 9)
a. J.S. Bach b. Handel c. D. Scarlatti 1685
Quiz (page 15)
1. various answers 2. c 3. a 4. b 5. b
100 Day Challenge
Encourage your students to try the 100 Day challenge. If they practice every day for 100 days, send their information to us and we will print their names in the magazine. We have heard from many teachers that this has been an exciting incentive for their students. If students are away on vacation or are sick, they must still do something with music each day. The specifics are up to the teacher but some ideas are: listening to music, studying their pieces without a piano, reading Piano Explorer, writing a composition, or researching a composer, piece or musical period.
Print out a certificate for your students who complete the challenge.pdf
The completed practice sheets continue to pour in. If you haven’t tried this with your students, you can still start now. Please email us names of students who complete the challenge to: [email protected]. Include the student’s name, age, state, and teacher’s name as well as how many days of practice the student has completed. Please do not mail them in.
As one teacher said, “The 100 days of practicing has inspired my students to more than I thought each was capable!”
We will continue this challenge in the upcoming year, and students may start at any time. Check out the students who have played for 100 days at http://pianoexplorer.net/100-day-challenge/
Music Corner: Encourage students to submit music to Music Corner throughout the year. Music must be a student’s own work although you may help them write it down. It can be hand written or done with a music program. Please keep a copy as we cannot return music. Write the student’s name, age, address, and teacher’s name plus any relevant information about the music on the back of the first page.
Send music to Music Corner, Piano Explorer, 1838 Techny Court, Northbrook, Illinois 60062.