February 28, 2021

“I have one green cup,
I like drinking from,
My green cup is small,
So I drink it all” 
– William Shakespeare

JUST KIDDING, it was me. I may not be a lyrical genius, but I’m not afraid to freestyle a goofy verse to motivate a student!

How do you take a technical exercise and make a student actually *want* to play it?

You make up silly lyrics! Bonus points if they include the “hit” item of the day (in this case, a favorite green cup). 

The student in this video has fine motor challenges, and right now he’s working on using the first three fingers on his right hand (using 
Occupational Octaves Piano Book 1).

He needs lots of repetition to get the motor skills down, but there are only so many times one can play the same song…

This student often brings an object or a drawing of an object with him to keep at the piano while he plays. This day it was a green cup, so I came up with a few phrases about the cup (even better if they rhyme!) whose “syllables” matched the melody of his piece, and he jammed out. 

His mom hasn’t had formal musical training, but she is not afraid to jump in and sing (in tune!) and be silly, which makes lessons extra fun! 

Also, notice how mom prompts him by saying “up here” instead of telling him the notes. This builds sight reading skills and pairs the visual channel with the auditory – instead of relying solely on the auditory channel by telling him which notes to play. 

Do you ever make up lyrics to pieces that your students are playing? 

About the author 

Selena Pistoresi

Selena is a lifelong pianist and piano teacher of over a decade. She owns a studio in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, where she specializes in working with students with special needs. She equips teachers all over the world with the mindset, tools, and curriculum to teach students with special needs and help their studios flourish.

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