One of the things that I love about teaching piano is the challenge of figuring out how to integrate every part of the student’s learning so that they understand concepts in a relevant way. One of the ways this can be done very effectively is through structured improvisation assignments.
If you’ve been a reader on Music Matters Blog for any length of time you know that I’m a huge fan of Pattern Play as the most effective approach I’ve found to truly teaching improvisation at the piano. But now that most of my students (and I!) have become more comfortable improvising, we create a variety of assignments from week to week that utilize improvising as a way to help students cement various musical concepts.
Right now Mercy is learning chord inversions as part of her Theory and Technique section in our C2 practice incentive theme, so this was the short piece she improv-ed using a c-minor chord and inversions:
It’s amazing how much more exciting and relevant theory concepts are when you see them become a creative expression like this!