These ideas will work with a variety of ages and ability levels, and don’t require a lot of space or extra materials to implement.
- Ice Breaker: Rhythm practice with quarter notes and eighth notes. This is a great listening activity similar to rhythmic dictation. Start by clapping four quarter notes, using the word “ghost” to keep a steady beat. Have the students repeat the pattern while saying the words. Next clap 8 eighth notes using the word “spoo-ky” to keep a steady beat; have the students repeat the pattern. Now the fun starts! Clap a pattern of eighth notes and quarter notes in 4/4 time (without speaking), and ask students to clap it back while saying the correct words! For more advanced students, you can add the words “Hall-o-ween” for triplets and “ter-ri-fy-ing” for sixteenth notes.
- Listening/Composer Activity: Video of Toccata in D Minor by J.S. Bach played on a pipe organ. This popular piece is easy to find on Youtube, and students are always wowed by the sight of the large pipe organ. Introduce the piece by giving a bit of background on J.S. Bach. After hearing the piece, ask students, “What makes this piece sound spooky?” Possible answers might include: the instrument (organ), the minor key, low pitches, clashing harmonies.
- Performance Practice: each student plays 2-3 Halloween themed (or otherwise spooky) pieces. Remind students to listen out for musical elements that create a spooky feel. Costumes are optional!
- Ensemble Playing: For elementary students, try the “Theme from Symphony No. 1” by Mahler. This round, a minor key version of “Frere Jacques,” can be played by 2, 3, or even 4 students! The music can be found here, or in the “Free Stuff” section of my website. For intermediate to advanced students, check out my Halloween duet, “Knock, Knock, Knock!” available here on the Piano Pronto website!
What do you think? Do you have any group activities planned for Halloween?