February Teacher’s Guide

February Issue

This issue features the life and music of Camille Saint-Saëns and French pianist, teacher and composer Louise Dumont Farrenc (1804 – 1875). Farrenc was the only female professor at the Paris Conservatory in the late 1800s and after finding success with one of her works, successfully negotiated a salary increase to match the pay of the male teachers of the era. Additional information on this interesting musician may be found:




For a fun listening exercise, have students listen to each movement of The Carnival of the Animals and see if they can hear the animals being depicted.

1. Introduction and Royal March of the Lion: played by strings and two pianos. Listen for a march in the pianos.
2. Hens and Roosters: Violins and violas, two pianos, and clarinet. Listen for the chickens pecking at some grain.
3. Wild Donkeys: Listen for two pianos depicting donkeys running around very quickly.
4. Tortoises: Here strings and pianos take the fast can-can dance and slow it down to turtle speed. There are even some wrong notes as the turtles step on each other’s feet.
5. The Elephant: String bass (a very low instrument) and piano depict an elephant waltzing in this humorous movement.
6. Kangaroos: The pianos play the part of hopping kangaroos.
7. The Aquarium: Violin, viola, cello, pianos, flute, and glass harmonica create high, magical sounds in this peaceful, beautiful movement.
8. Persons with Long Ears: This is a short movement played by the violins. They alternate between very high and low notes to make the sound of a donkey’s bray.
9. Cuckoo in the Heart of the Wood: While the pianos play soft chords, a clarinet makes the sound of a cuckoo bird. In the original score the clarinet was written to be offstage.
10. The Aviary: Here strings, pianos, and flute create the sounds of birds. High-pitched flutes are often used by composers for bird songs.
11. Pianists: In this humorous movement played by strings and pianos, the pianists are shown practicing finger exercises and scales.
12. Fossils: The strings, pianos, clarinet, and xylophone play this movement. It includes themes and melodies from other works: Danse macabre, Twinkle, and The Barber of Seville. The xylophone creates the sound of bones.
13. The Swan: This is the most famous movement and is played by cello with two pianos. This is a beautiful cello solo portraying a stately, gliding swan. It is an important cello solo that is frequently performed alone.
14. Finale: All of the instruments come together for the final section that includes elements of many of the previous movements.

Answers to February Puzzles

Logic Puzzle (page 11)
1st, Jack, Saxophone, Bach
2nd, Katherine, Piano, Mozart
3rd, Sam, Cello, Brahms
4th, Ella, Guitar, Beethoven

Word Scramble (page 14)
opera, sharp, guitar, concerto, cello
Answer: piano

Quiz (page 15)
1. a  2. b  3. a  4. d  5. b  6. a  7. f  8. c  9.a

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.

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You can adjust group numbers or renew your subscription at any point during the year. We will prorate your subscription, and you only pay for the issues you receive.

Call 888-446-6888 or email [email protected].

Coming in March: Rachmaninoff, the conductor, double sharps and double flats.

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. 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 is announced this month. Full information is available on the home page and in the magazine. Note you must subscribe to Piano Explorer to submit a composition.

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.

Click here to print out a certificate for your students who complete the challenge.

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/

Many teachers ask what students should do when they are sick or on vacation. We offer the following guidelines:

It is up to the individual teachers to decide what is best for their students. However, the one requirement is that students must do something music related every day – even on vacation. Teachers and students have been very creative about this. Some ideas for vacation practice have included listening to music, bringing their sheet music and studying it each day, researching/reading about composers, reading Piano Explorer, listening to music clips on peforkids.com, writing a composition, or doing a report on a composer, musician or time.  Others have found a piano where they are traveling or brought along a keyboard. The goal is for students to do something related to their music study for at least a few minutes each day no matter what so that practicing becomes a regular part of their lives.