Every studio has at least one pet lover. Usually that pet has fur or feathers, but sometimes it’s scales or something else. And, students love sharing about these special family members. Celebrate by teaching sheet music about pets! Not only do students love them, but families love hearing something that relates to their family.
Bring Family Stories and Music Together
Over the years of travel teaching, I met a lot of pets.
Georgia, the cat, would meet me at my car door each week. And, shun me after each holiday. How dare I not show up for her regular cuddling session! Mr. Rose, the cat, who consistently tried to climb into my teaching bag for a nap. Kojak, the cat who tried to trick me before attacking and his twin that would drool as I petted him. (I got great at telling them apart.)
Jake, the dog, is all about the love and never understood why my arm couldn’t stay around him the entire lesson. One year, another one of my student’s dogs insisted on sitting under my legs and putting his head on my lap. More than once a “lap dog” was shocked they couldn’t sit on my lap the entire lesson. Then, their excitement when ‘the moment’ finally arrived.
And, there are honourable mentions. The shy bullfrog that jumped to the floor before I could pet him. A lizard that would blink hello. A turtle that walked past the piano. And, fish that basically ignored me. I think they thought I was part of the screensaver outside their tank.
Focus on Stories
When we use sheet music about pets, we create a connection between what students are playing and their everyday lives.
Suddenly, practice isn’t about notes on a page. It’s a chance for the entire family to smile as they hear their student practice a song that could have been written about their furry/feather/scaled family member.
It’s amazing how storytelling makes for better teaching, both on the pedagogical and relationship side. The impact is incredible considering it takes very little time during lesson.
Sheet Music About Dogs
Jake is a special dog in our studio. Not only have I written songs about him, but so have the two kids that call him family!
In “Jake’s Fishing Adventure“, my student told me all about the fun they had a family ice fishing. Including the antics Jake got into. You can imagine Jake dunking his head in the icy water, warming up in the cabin and heading back out to say hi to the fish again.
While I don’t have a photo of Jake ice fishing, this image is the closest representation I could find of this lovable dog!
P.S. You may have seen “Jake Meets The Jack Rabbit” and “Misuki’s Supersonic Run” from the “Misuki: La Princesa” collection in another publication a few years ago. (Once the Misuki collection is in the shop, I’ll update this section!)
Sheet Music About Cats
As mentioned above, Mr. Rose is quite the dramatic cat. One year, after my student told me who he enters the room I decided to write a Spring recital song just for her cat (and her). While my student loved “The Grand Entrance” … Mr. Rose felt any reaction was beneath him. Oh, well. You can’t win over every cat.
Rote Sheet Music for Students That Love Cats
On the other side of the spectrum there was Sam, our beloved family cat. He was smart, loyal and caring. Things that YouTube generally does not show about cats. While he’s long gone, “Sam’s Life” is a collection of rote pieces for rote + reading through late elementary levels (with 2 levels for each song). These pieces cover:
- A sweet piece about the special friendship Sam and Peter (my mom’s budgie) had,
- A spy-themed piece about his hunting prowess,
- A story-based piece about looking both ways before crossing the street,
- A chord exploration about hating to walk in the snow (something I’m loath to do as well),
- And, a dreamy piece about napping in a patch of sunlight.
The picture below is a cartoon version of what Sam actually looked like. The artist I worked with got several photos of Sam from kitten to adulthood. Then, detailed descriptions of what Sam’s face looked like for each song image. My husband teased me that I was quite nostalgic while working on this project. But, look at that face! Isn’t he the type of cat you’d want to meet?
Recently, I realized that these pieces have another great pedagogical function! One of my intermediate students had asked to do more sight-reading and transposition. Considering these are fantastic musician skills, I was really excited to search for music. Because of the chord and pattern focus, this collection has interesting, yet approachable music for this level of student. Watch the video below for a quick way to take a simple piece and bump up the pedagogy for a more advanced student!
Sheet Music About Birds
We had many cockatiels growing up. At certain times of the year, I would come home from school to feed all our baby birds. While my brother was in charge of getting them used to rambunctious kids, I was in charge of getting them used to any type of music they might hear in their new homes.
Then, my parents got Gizmo. What can I say about Gizmo? He’s quirky and he’s a “character”. On the one hand, he’s loving and wants to be around his humans. On the other hand, he can behave very much like the cats you tend to see on YouTube. Oh, my.
“Gizmo: A Quirky Cockatiel” is a collection of pieces that highlight the many facets of this interesting bird. There are pieces about:
- A ‘conversation’ between Gizmo and his adults that’s reminiscent of the adults in Charlie Brown (wah, wah, wah, wah),
- An homage to a famous piece as Gizmo showers in the rain,
- A playful piece as Gizmo is surrounded by family,
- A jaunty piece about the ‘frenemies’,
- And, an improvisational piece as Gizmo looks in the mirror (students choose the order and frequency of each section).
The photo below is a cartoon version of Gizmo sitting on my lap (one of his favourite spots to perch). He’s looking quite adorable here as he sits in the midst of family life during one of his visits!
Sheet Music About Pets
Pets can be such an important part of life. Especially for our students. When you can tie in the repertoire they learn with important parts of their life practice tends to go a lot easier during the week.
For each of the songs or collections mentioned, click on the link to see samples of the sheet music and hear the music.
What is your favourite pet story? Either your pet or a student’s pet!
Let me know in the comments below.