Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Piano Recital

Last Sunday, I had a piano recital with sixteen of my students. My friend Melissa and two of her students joined us. I came up with the idea during the summer to have a Halloween-themed recital. I knew from back when I worked at a music store that there was an abundance of piano solos written just for Halloween. I used to think that was dumb. In fact, I thought the idea of having individual sheets for elementary piano solos was kind of dumb, but that was just because I hated keeping that section of the store neat. There was no easy way to organize them, and they never stayed in alphabetical order! And they always got bent and crumpled. Why would piano teachers even bother with them?

But now that I'm actually a piano teacher, I see the single sheet solo as a very useful motivational tool. Many of my students don't like to learn songs that they've never heard before, and if they get a familiar song, that's what they'll invest the time to practice. But when I started handing out original Halloween solos specifically selected for them, I was surprised at some of the eyes that lit up. In some cases, they learned their solos so fast, I had to run out and get more!

This was my third piano recital I've put on, and it was by far the best. The anticipation was the greatest, and only two of my 18 students didn't participate--one is a brand new beginner and the other was still recovering from a broken thumb. I also got great feedback from parents and students that this event was actually fun and not just one of those kids' things that is so tedious to sit through. I got the impression that they all want to do a Halloween recital every year. I'm not sure if I want to get stuck in that rut, but I certainly will select a theme for each recital and really get into it.

Here is a reformatted version of the program, which I kicked off with J.S. Bach's Toccata in d minor on the organ (students' names all but eliminated, of course):

I. Spooky Tunes

It’s a Scary Night! by Dennis Alexander

Scary Story by Robert D. Vandall


Grumpy Old Troll

The Haunted Mouse by Randall and Nancy Faber


Yo-Ho-Ho! by Jennifer Linn


II. Wizards and More

Shadows by Alexander, et al

Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter by John Williams


Accidental Wizard by Phillip Keveren


Merlin’s Dream by Peggy Otwell


III. Witches Galore

Mystery Movie by Alexander, et al

Witches’ Waltz by Robert D. Vandall


The Wily Witch by Jane Smisor Bastien


Halloween Witches by Jane Smisor Bastien


IV. Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns

Pumpkin Party by Jane Smisor Bastien

The Runaway Pumpkin by Elizabeth W. Greenleaf


V. Scary Monsters

Monster March by Jennifer Linn


Something’s Under My Bed by Kevin R. Olson


VI. Not-so-scary

The I Like Song

Wind in the Trees by Randall and Nancy Faber


Olympic Processions by Palmer, Manus, Lethco

Irish Wedding Dance by Traditional


In Church by Ludwig Schytte

Minuet by Johann Sebastian Bach


First Light by Traditional Gaelic

Yellow Submarine by John Lennon, Paul McCartney


Bounces by Italo Taranta

Hey Jude by John Lennon, Paul McCartney


The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber


And one last picture, the "scary version:"


jessica @pianomomsicle said...

Are you a teacher who puts the recital students in order of advancement? i remember it being a competition between me and this other violin player of who would be last. i can't tell if this were a useful motivator or a bad one, but it sure worked!

Cheryl said...

Great idea! What a fun time!