10 Red-Hot RESOURCES for Cool Summer Lessons

Design blockbuster summer lessons with these unique resources. They appear in no certain order andred hot (1) promise to deliver buckets-full of fun and creativity.

Pattern Play

Why not include a surprise at the first lesson and begin with a simple black key ostinato improvisation? You'll find all the details about how to do this and so much more in Forrest Kinney's Pattern Play. This series of six books offers oodles of solo and/or duet patterns that encourage creativity AND beautiful music making right from the start.

Extra Tips

Want to impress a reluctant adult improviser? Turn to page 8 in Pattern Play 1 and teach them the melody notes "Blues on Black." It's a magical way to make anyone sound like they've played the blues for decades.

Don't miss Forrest Kinney at NCKP! Register here for National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and make sure to sign up for the pre-conference Creative Track on Wednesday, July 29 where you'll collect a ton of creative ideas from Forrest, Bradley and me. Tim Topham has signed up for the track--maybe you can sit next to him!


The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff

I used this downloadable PDF a couple of summers ago and believe I'll bring it back out again. The gurus of making piano fun at Teach Piano Today provide just the right amount of humor and encouragement to get even the most reluctant student composing. The good news? Purchase your studio copy and you can use it with as many students as you wish.

Extra Tip

Since I don't have time to complete all 12 weeks of activities in the span of a short summer season, I select the appropriate activities for each student. They don't necessarily need to be used in order.


Piano Flix

In a past post I went on and on about Tim Topham's resource for teaching pop music called Piano Flix. If you know this is the summer you need to begin teaching pop music or require some more guidance, Tim Topham's savvy, 8-part video series, Piano Flix, is for you.

Extra Tip

Tim Topham has generously offered instant access to the first videos for free. This is a great way for you to check out the series.

Want to learn more about Australian blogger Tim and his approach to teaching pop music? Then it's time to visit his site AND attend NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy) as he'll be presenting! Check out why Topham's making the long trek to the States here.


Keys to Imagination

Michelle Sisler is a long-time friend who has built a technological dynasty calls Keys to Imagination. If you are looking to integrate more technology into your studio, visit Keys to Imagination FIRST! Then take a peek at all the Whirligig games and incentive programs she offers.

Extra Tip

Many of the games that I use in my Piano Olympics camps come from this site. I especially like the Triple Threat Tiles for reviewing key signatures.

Title and Sample Tile


TCW Resources

Thank goodness three cranky women (that's where TCW originates) decided to cheer up piano lessons with some fun games! It seems they are always coming up with new ideas to master theory concepts. My favorites include Musical Spoons Triads and Flashy Fingers.

Extra Tip

If you are looking for a resource for group games with a crazy edge, you must take a look at the Theory Gymnastics Teacher Guides. They provide an endless supply of group games and off-the-bench fun. Ever wonder what an empty egg carton might do to liven up a dreary theory lesson?


Rhythm Cup Explorations Book 1 and 2

I'd be surprised if you haven't heard about Wendy Stevens' Rhythm Cup Explorations. If not, her first book and now her latest book, Rhythm Cup Explorations Book 2 should be on the top of your summer resource list.

Extra Tips

  • Before you introduce these reproducible pages to your students, create simple rhythms and ask your eager rhythm cuppers to echo you.
  • Next ask them to create a rhythm themselves that fellow cuppers must echo.
  • Ask them to write out the rhythm they created on a white board or scratch paper to build dictation skills.
  • Challenge them to find new ways to make noise with the cup and incorporate that into their favorite rhythm.
  • THEN open Wendy's book and let them enjoy Wendy's catchy and challenging rhythms and  innovative cup techniques.


 Flip for Improvisation

Providing a prompt to spark fresh ideas is easy with these books called Flip for Improvisation. Each page is split into three sections so students can flip and create a new combination to trigger imaginations every day.

Extra Tip

If a young composer needs a title for an original composition these books offer some terrific ideas.


Piano Teacher's Guide to Composition

If you need a resource that will support your needs as a teacher of early composers, you'll want this book written by the late Carol Klose.

Extra Tip

Check out Part 3 that addresses mapping a composition. Klose outlines how composers should plot the excitement levels of a piece with a visual graph.



Ear Training and Improv

A site dedicated to ear training and improvisation is bound to have options to change up the summer lesson routine. Kristin Jensen offers numerous free resources and videos to spur student creativity at the keys.

Extra Tip

Below is a video on how I completed her Mother's Day composition activity on the iPad using the app called Notability. This method could be used with other composing activities on Kristin's site as well.


Creative Chords Book 1 GIVEAWAY!

This list wouldn't be complete if I didn't include Bradley Sowash's brand new book Creative Chords--a second one is on its way soon. I'm eager to use this series with a number of students who could use a break from a typical method book and need a trigger to build a more musical imagination.

Extra Tip

Don't forget to find the code in the back of your book to access backing tracks, additional PDF's and videos of Bradley demonstrating the concepts. This brings a whole new dimension to your journey through this media-rich, unprecedented method that appeals to all ages.


Want a COMPLIMENTARY, autographed copy of Bradley's latest book? Sign up here and you'll be placed in the drawing to win Creative Chords. The winner will be announced May 26, 2015.


Stay tuned for 10 Red-Hot APPS to Make Summer Lessons Cool!


Looking to add a significant impact to the creative factor in your lessons? Then it is time to attend

88 Creative Keys Camp in Denver, July 6-11. Register here.