February Teacher’s Guide

Composition Contest

    The annual composition contest was announced in the January issue. The theme for 2019 is Pets. We welcome pieces by students of all levels and experience. Students who have not composed before may not know how to get started so a few basic ideas are included in the issue. The most important factor for the contest is whether a piece is creative, original, and fits the contest theme. We do not want a generic piece with just a title that matches the theme. Some of the best works we have received in past years have come from young or beginning students.

    A good starting place is to come up with an idea of what they want to convey and then brainstorm about how that might sound. Many students find it helpful to play around with ideas at the piano. Recording this will help them remember what they did. Once they come up with a basic idea or melody, they can think about other elements of music such as form, key, time signature, tempo etc. They can develop the idea, add a second melody and so forth. An accompaniment is not required but most do include one. Some basic ideas for left-hand accompaniment are included on page 10 of the magazine.

    We require students to submit a statement, signed by them and a parent or guardian, that indicates that the work is entirely their own. They may have assistance from parents or teachers in writing down the notes. Form

Please note that all submissions must be sent via mail or fax – no email entries. If you are outside the U.S., please check with us about exceptions to this requirement. [email protected]

Send compositions to

Piano Explorer
Composition Contest
1838 Techny Court, Northbrook, IL 60062

Fax: 847-446-6263

Good luck to everyone!


J.C. Bach and Mozart

J.C. Bach apparently had a strong influence on the young Mozart who visited London on a concert tour at the age of 8. Nannerl later wrote, “Herr Johann Christian Bach, music master of the queen, took Wolfgang between his knees. He would play a few measures; then Wolfgang would continue. In this manner they played entire sonatas. Unless you saw it with your own eyes, you would swear that just one person was playing.” They remained friends, and Mozart later arranged three sonatas from Bach’s Op. 5 into keyboard sonatas.

Music Periods

In Beginner’s Corner this month, the different music periods are listed. Discuss with students how music changes over time and how some composers like J.C. Bach and Beethoven influenced these changes. Next month’s composer is Johannes Brahms who wrote music with classical forms but also was influenced by the sounds of the 19th century Romantic music.


You can renew or order Piano Explorer for your students at our online store. Or email us with your order or if we can answer any questions: [email protected]  (Address changes may be sent here as well.) Call 888-446-6888 toll free during business hours. Remember you may adjust your quantity at any time during the year.

Spring 2019 Composers
January: Prokofiev
February: J.C. Bach
March: Amy Beach and Brahms
April: Telemann
May/June: Mendelssohn
July/August: Holst

Other composers and musicians will also be profiled throughout the year.

Contest Rules

Deadline: March 8, 2019

1. Students or their teacher must subscribe to Piano Explorer. (If the teacher subscribes, he or she must have as many subscriptions as students who have entered.) Students must be 18 years or younger.

2. Only solo piano music will be considered for prizes.

3. Write your name, age, address, phone number, and teacher’s name on the back of the music.

4. All compositions must be written by students. Parents and teachers may help write down the notes.

5. Do not quote other pieces of music in your compositions. We cannot print such pieces due to copyright laws. You must also include the signed statement on page 14 to participate.

6. Keep a copy for yourself. We cannot return music.

7. All submissions must be postmarked or faxed by the deadline, March 8, 2019. We are not responsible for pieces that are delayed in the mail.

8. Last year’s first-prize winners may not enter this year.

9. Drawings are encouraged, but not required.

10. Fax or mail entries only. Please no emails!

11. Make sure to compose music specifically to the topic. Don’t just add a fitting title to a composition you already have.

12. You must include a description of the piece. This is NOT optional. If you want your piece considered for a prize, you must write a few sentences about how your music represents the topic.

Student Compositions

While we are continuing to print the winning compositions from this year’s contest, we would like to remind teachers that we also print non-contest music throughout the year (once we have published all of the winners’ pieces). Students can write music on any topic (they might try a ragtime piece – see page 9 of the July issue). We cannot return music, so students should keep a copy. Write the student’s name, age, address, and teacher’s name on the back of the music. All music must be original work. Send pieces to Piano Explorer, Music Corner, 1838 Techny Court, Northbrook, IL 60062.

Annual Composition Contest

The contest theme was announced in the January issue and online in January (see above). Note you must subscribe to Piano Explorer to submit a composition.

Answers to February Puzzles

Octaves (page 9):
1. space
2. 11

Sons of J.S. Bach (page 11)
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Johann Christian Bach
Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach

(Not sons of J.S. Bach)
P.D.Q Bach – modern humorist
Anna Magdalena Bach – 2nd Wife
Johann Ambrosius Bach – father
Richard Philipp Bach – fake
Alexander Carl Bach – fake
Michael Sebastian Bach – fake

Word Search ( page 11)

Quiz (page 15):
1. b 2. b 3. a 4. c 5. a Baroque

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 https://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.