In a Piano Teacher’s Arsenal: The Magic bullet piece (VIDEO with Aiden Cat joining in)

There’s always a piece of music lurking somewhere that can save a young student from quitting piano. For those of us who teach the great masterworks, passing a cultural legacy to the next generation, we know lickety-split when it’s time to break out our ammunition: the magic bullet piece.

Example:

An 11-year old had gotten into a rut practicing Rameau’s Menuet en Rondeau. As far as I could see, there was no tomorrow unless a treat was tossed her way a.s.a.p. Oddly, it came straight from the Chocolate Factory, compliments of Willie Wonka. And if this album had remained sequestered in a dark closet where it had amassed dust, it would have been headed for a meltdown.

But a twist of fate caused a reversal of fortune.

Not only did “Oompa-Loompa Doompadee-Doo” come out of obscurity, but it stimulated my student’s musical appetite. Her slow and steady practicing paid off as she artfully navigated the Willy Wonka piece in the good company of Aiden cat who’d been wooed to the piano bench by a handful of Greenies. Once mesmerized by the mysterious, modal melody, he stayed put for over 30 minutes.

Currently, the student who was slipping and sliding, is now back on track with her piano studies, mixing it up with classical and popular. Down the line, additional morsels from Willy Wonka will keep her musical appetite primed. How about, “Pure Imagination,” and “The Candy Man.”

Please share your favorite magic bullet pieces:

Others that have worked: (Combined with minuets, sonatinas, sonatas, classical marches, Romantic character pieces, etc)

Arrangements of these selections can be found at appropriate levels:

Star Wars
Colors of the Wind
Beauty and the Beast
Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter
Phantom of the Opera
The Entertainer
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
In Dreams from Lord of the Rings
A Beatles Medley
Liz on Top of the World from Pride and Prejudice
8MM
West Side Story selections
Sound of Music medley
Looking through the Eyes of Love from Ice Castles

Added by Jessica:
Bella’s Lullaby from Twilight. Why oh why?

From Lisa:

Possible Magic Bullets for intermediate/advanced students …

* Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi’s theme from Charlie Brown)
* Theme from Pink Panther
* Bumble Boogie
* The Heart Asks Pleasure First (Theme from The Piano)
* Andrew Lloyd Webber
* Abba’s music from Mamma Mia
* Clocks by Coldplay (cool piano intro)
* Jon Schmidt does a lot of really neat stuff that is also technically challenging (he has several sheet music books available — I’d suggest “Waterfall,” “All of Me,” “Ridin’ West.”)
* William Joseph’s compositions — he has a couple books out and my personal faves are “Within” and “Piano Fantasy”

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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5 Responses to In a Piano Teacher’s Arsenal: The Magic bullet piece (VIDEO with Aiden Cat joining in)

  1. Jessica Olson says:

    Lately … Bella’s Lullaby from Twilight. Why oh why?

    Anything from Star Wars for the Boys!

    Like

  2. Thanks, Jessica. I’ll look up Bella’s Lullaby and add to my magic bullet roster.
    Yes, Star Wars is popular with the boys.

    Shirley

    Like

  3. Lisa says:

    I agree, best to mix it up a bit. When I was young the “magic bullets” were actually my teacher’s (Theme from Love Story, Love Theme from The Godfather, Love Theme from Nicholas & Alexandra — see a pattern here?), none of which spoke to me as I was too young to see the movies anyway and certainly too young to appreciate the sentimentality. When it comes to kids, I suspect they’d be pretty forthcoming about which pieces they’d love to learn “for fun”

    Possible Magic Bullets for intermediate/advanced students …

    * Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi’s theme from Charlie Brown)
    * Theme from Pink Panther
    * Bumble Boogie
    * The Heart Asks Pleasure First (Theme from The Piano)
    * Andrew Lloyd Webber
    * Abba’s music from Mamma Mia
    * Clocks by Coldplay (cool piano intro)
    * Jon Schmidt does a lot of really neat stuff that is also technically challenging (he has several sheet music books available — I’d suggest “Waterfall,” “All of Me,” “Ridin’ West.”)
    * William Joseph’s compositions — he has a couple books out and my personal faves are “Within” and “Piano Fantasy”

    Like

    • These are fascinating. I will add your list to Jessica’s. The oldies ring a bell, especially Pink Panther, Theme from Love Story, Godfather.. Now I’m remembering Chariots of Fire as well. One of my students requested Viva La Vida, which was very long.. full of syncopation and a bummer to finger, but we managed. Same for Taylor Swift Forever and Always, and Five for Fighting 100 Years.

      Like

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