Skype: Helping Piano Students Compose

I have a piano student who is a Freshman in high school this year. She’s been playing piano for at least 5 years now. Rebekah has a real love of music. She’s developing an ear for classical and jazz but I worried that perhaps she was becoming too attached to the written notes. I needed to push her use her ear as well as her eye. So we began working on simple hymns for church. I showed her how to read the guitar chords in the music and taught her some basic patterns to create simple accompaniments to the melody line. This was becoming a great project to review the grand cadence, transposing and key signatures! So we decide to take 3 songs and make an arrangement to play for church. It went really well! So we decided to do another one. But this time I felt Rebekah was struggling with the process of blending the pieces together. So I post Rebekah’s initial work on her medley on Youtube and ask for help:

I threw the video link out on Twitter and wonder of wonders the fabulous Mark Brymer contacts me and says he’d like to Skype with Rebekah! Mark and I tweet back and forth to set up the time and date. When the big day arrived Rebekah and I were so excited!

Our Skype with Mark Brymer Begins:

The 2nd part of our Skype conversation with Mark:

Mark did such a great job of helping to push us over our mental block! I had covered the circle of 5ths with Rebekah when we learned the scales but I had failed to label it as the “Circle of 5ths” for her. And I hadn’t thought to use this concept with her for composing. I already know that our next medley won’t be one where all 3 pieces are in the same key that way she can make some practical use of this new (to her) concept.

Rebekah’s Revised Version:

Even 5 years ago I didn’t have the knowledge to pull something like this together. But now because of things like Skype, Twitter, and my wonderful PLN, students like Rebekah will be blessed with authentic learning experiences! Wow! Amazing!

Brenda Muench

music educator tech specialist

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