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.
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:
Colors of the Wind
Beauty and the Beast
Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter
Phantom of the Opera
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
In Dreams from Lord of the Rings
A Beatles Medley
Liz on Top of the World from Pride and Prejudice
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?
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”