January Teacher’s Guide

Composition Contest Ideas

    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.

    Please note that this year we are requiring 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.

    Good luck to everyone! We can’t wait to see what they come up with.



    This month we continue the series on how different parts of the body should look and feel while playing the piano. With the fingers, it can be helpful to stop students while they are in the middle of playing – perhaps making a game of saying “freeze” to check their hand position – before continuing on with the piece. They should check whether their fingers are curved and that no fingers have collapsed while pressing a key.

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.

2017-2018 Schedule of Composers

September: J.S. Bach
October: Haydn
November: Rossini
December: Tchaikovsky
January: Satie
February: Spanish Composers
March: Grieg
April: Liszt
May/June: Britten
July/August: Copland

The 2018 Piano Explorer Composition Contest theme is announced this month in the magazine and on the Kids page. 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]

Answers to January Puzzles

French Music (page 6)

A. Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

B. Bizet’s Carmen

C. Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

Mystery Composers (page 13)

Tchaikovsky, Haydn, J.S. Bach, Rossini

Quiz (page 15)
1. a 2. b 3. c 4. minuet 5. Alberti Bass 6. typewriter, airplane propeller, siren, etc. 7. a 8. 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 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.