Composition & Improvisation Prompts for Piano eBook

NEW: Prompts for Piano, Set 2 is now available!

Prompts for Piano” is an e-book designed to provide an easy way for teachers to guide beginner and elementary students through composition or improvisation.

One of the first challenges of starting a composition is getting inspired.  Simply telling a student to compose a piece is too broad of an assignment that often causes the student to become overwhelmed.

The other challenge to helping students with composition is helping them learn how to make music that sounds like the topic they have chosen.

“Prompts for Piano” is designed to provide solutions for those two challenges.  Each of the 20 prompts provides a topic idea accompanied by a brief written description and an image, intended to help inspire the student and generate enthusiasm for the project.

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The “goals” listed on the prompt are intended to help the student successfully create a piece that will sound like the topic they have chosen.  For example, for a piece about rain, students might be encouraged to use staccato sounds.

At the end of the PDF, there are a few pages of staff paper included to print for your students.

To begin a composition assignment with a piano student, I allow the student to choose one of the prompts.  I keep printed copies of the prompts near my piano, but I also have the PDF loaded onto my iPad so I can print directly from there (I use the GoodNotes app for this).  Students are usually very excited about the topic they choose, which leads nicely to a discussion about how we can go about creating music that will emulate that subject.

Mack T - The Dinosaur 2

Over the course of the next few weeks/months, the student slowly adds new measures and properly notates their composition onto staff paper.  When it is finished, I transcribe their composition into Finale and ask them to illustrate their composition.  You can read more about how I go about composing with my piano students here. On the right is an example of a composition created by one of my students. And here is another example, on video:

And here is a video example submitted by a teacher from Texas. Her beginner student followed the parameters for the prompt “The Dinosaur” to the letter, and the piece sounds amazing!

Have you ever thought about doing a summer composition project, or holding a composition recital with your students?  Using these prompts can help make sure that your students choose varied topics during a studio-wide composition project.

Your purchase includes a Studio License allowing you to print as many copies from this PDF as desired, forever – as long as you are using them with your own students. You may also use the PDF as needed for online teaching purposes with your students.

Download a sample page from Prompts for Piano Set #1 below. Enjoy!

  Composition/Improv Prompt - Free Sample (102.8 KiB, 17,276 hits)

Level:Beginner/elementary students, but may also be appropriate for some intermediate students
Pages:28 pages
Format:PDF (email delivery)
Terms of Use:Studio License

Permission is granted for the purchasing teacher to make unlimited printouts and use the digital files for the purpose of teaching their own students. Sharing printouts or the digital files beyond that purpose is not permitted. The purchaser is not permitted to resell the item(s), or alter, modify, or create derivative works.

What is the difference between Prompts for Piano Set #1 and Set #2?

They are the same, format-wise; but the 20 prompts in Set #2 are completely different from the 20 in Set #1. If you are trying to decide which set to purchase, it may also be helpful to know that Set #2 includes a few prompts that are slightly more “advanced” — perfect for those students progressing into intermediate levels. If you have lots of students, you may wish to buy both sets so your students have lots (40 total) of choices!

Prompts for Piano has been purchased by over 400 teachers! Check out what a few teachers have to say about it:

“My students and I have been using this set of prompts with amazing success this summer. I love the goals and the prompts. I have three students who have already completed their first composition and they are over the moon with excitement at what they have accomplished. I never imagined I would be able to guide them through this process so easily.” –Heather Best

“I’ve enjoyed the support and encouragement from your blog and site for about 3 years now. The Composition and Improvisation prompts as well as your Composition Summer Camp plan was a big hit when I used it in 2019.” –Shelley P.

“I used several of the free printables this past summer for piano kits for my online students, but my favorite purchase has been the Prompts for Piano book. My students love creating new pieces with those guiding ideas. Thank you!” –Angela R.

Please note: This is a digital product, to be emailed after purchase.