Winter Elves – A “minor” freebie

Winter ElvesI am always on the lookout for interesting and topical activities for my students that are also linked to their learning objectives. I have a number of students this winter that have just been introduced to the minor tonality and I wanted a song that would be both seasonal and develop their familiarity and understanding of the tonality.

I love the song Goblins Are Around Tonight (Songs for Singing and Musicianship Training – David and Yuko Vinden) and often use it when introducing the minor tonality. Winter Elves is an adaptation of this with a winter theme. Hopefully it will evoke images of cheeky elves and not sinister ones!

It uses the la pentachord la ti do re mi and the rhythms ta, titi and ta-a although you could rewrite with a ta rest.

  • You can teach it aurally and then analyse the melody and rhythm using solfa and stick notation
  • You can notate it on the stave
  • You can play on the piano using just five fingers
  • You can use it for sight reading
  • You can use it to support the understanding that la and mi are the tonic and dominant of the natural minor
  • You can use it as a starting point for a minor improvisation or composition

The opportunities are endless! I hope you enjoy using it. Do let us know how you get on.

Click here to download

Free Nativity Song

Sleeping In A StableLooking ahead to Christmas, perhaps you’re looking for an easy song for your Early Years Nativity.

Here is a Christmas nativity song I wrote called Sleeping In A Stable. It uses the limited solfa toneset of do mi so and la. This is ideal for Reception/Early Years children (aged 4-5) or any child learning singing and musicianship using the Kodaly approach.

It could also be used in piano lessons. You could teach the child to sing the song, away from the score. Then demonstrate that they can play the melody by ear using just the black keys.

The song would fit into the nativity as Mary and Joseph settle down in the stable. They are not too impressed with their accommodation and are worried about getting to sleep with all the animal noises! You can alter the number of verses depending on which animals you want to add to the stable. I have included horses, ducks, hens, cows and dogs! I’ve saved the sheep to arrive with the shepherds later on!

Let me know if you use it!!

Merry Christmas!

Download Sleeping In A Stable for free here

Brand New – e-Books with Studio Licenses

Due to popular demand DoReMi Piano Book 1, Book 2 and also the Book 1 Teacher Guide are now available as studio licensed e-Books.

DoReMi Piano eBook 2

When you purchase an of the e-Book you will be sent a personalised pdf of the book along with permission to use the e-Book with any number of your own students as an individual teacher; this license may not be shared with any other teachers in the same studio or different studios.

Teachers outside the UK can use this option to avoid paying the international postage costs. You can print pages yourself or take the pdf to a local printer.

Teachers all over the world can use this option to create a tailored curriculum for their students. It enables individual pages of the book to be printed out as and when needed by each student. Perhaps you want to develop musicianship alongside your existing favourite method book, or prefer to work without notation for longer. Maybe you are already experienced with the Kodály approach and want to use the resources in your own way. It’s totally flexible.

Do get in touch if you have any questions and let me know how you use the e-Books to help you create a flexible and tailor-made curriculum.

Go to the shop now

New online teacher guide

DoReMi Piano Book 1 Teacher Guide CoverThe teacher guide for DoReMi Piano Book 1 is now available online. So wherever you are you can access the games and activities for each unit.

Perhaps you are not yet a DoReMi Piano teacher and are interested in learning more about the method. Reading through the online teacher guide will give you a valuable insight into the benefits for your students.

Hard copies of the Book 1 Teacher Guide are still available in the shop for just £4.99.

Brand new manuscript book

A unique manuscript book designed with Kodály in mind. Suitable for instrumental and musicianship students, the 25 leaf book alternates blank pages with manuscript pages. This enables solfége students to write stick notation, pulse and pitch pictures and more on the left hand page and then transfer to the stave on the right.

Ideal for use with DoReMi Piano Book 2 and beyond as musicianship skills are developed alongside practical performance.

Wire bound, A5 portrait, 6 large staves per manuscript page.

Only £2.50 Buy it now!

DoReMi Manuscript Front Cover

Recital Video – Sing and Play – Matthew

On Saturday some of my students performed their favourite pieces from Sing and Play. I would like to share a couple of clips with you.

Matthew is in Year 1 (age 6) and has been learning music with me since he was a toddler. He started with general music classes based on the wonderful Kodály resource Jolly Music by Cyrilla Rowsell and David Vinden. When he started reception in 2013 we started more formal piano lessons with My First Piano Adventures and continued the Kodály work alongside. However he was struggling a little with notation reading and started to get frustrated. When I launched DoReMi Piano in the Autumn of 2014 he asked if he could start using those books. I agreed and he has made excellent progress since then. He is now confidently playing pieces from Crazy Steps, however for his recital he decided to play his favourite black key pieces from Sing and Play.

The speed of his success with DoReMi Piano is down to the excellent foundations that were created using the activities from Jolly Music and it would be a dream come true if all young children had the opportunity to study music in this way prior to starting formal instrumental lessons.

The pieces he is playing in the clip are:

Woof Woof – my own composition and a favourite with all my students, regardless of their age! Unlike most of the pieces in the book, it starts on the lower of the two pitches and also introduces the student to the idea that two pitches can be played at the same time, creating a chord.

See Saw – a highly popular song with Kodály practitioners and is included in Jolly Music. In DoReMi Piano we use it over and over to not only introduce the singing names “so” and “mi” but also work on steady pulse and the introduction of rhythm and rhythm names.

Here Sits A Mousie – my favourite of all of the songs in Book 1 and so versatile. We revisit it in Book 2 and there are so many different ways we can play with this song, both on and off the piano. Here is another article I wrote about this wonderful song.

Cloud of Starlings Teaching Tips

The approach behind DoReMi Piano is one of sound before sight. Before students are introduced to the score of a piece they have already completed a number of aural activities and games. In Going Wild there is a piece called Cloud of Starlings that introduces simple hands together work. It is the first piece, apart from sight reading exercises, that has no lyrics. Since there is no “song” to pin the activities to, how do you approach this with a student?

Some of my confident students can take this piece and, with a bit of help, sight sing it from the score. This can be quite challenging for other students and it’s important that we don’t frustrate them. Here are some activities for those students. These can be spread over a number of lessons depending on the ability of the student, so make sure you plan ahead and start working on them in good time.


I have created a set of flashcards of melodic patterns, broken into single bars. Included in these six patterns are those that will be found in the piece. I print two sets of the cards and we can play a number of different games with them. The only limit is your imagination, or that of your students since some of the games I play have been suggested by the students themselves!

Prepare the patterns

  • As always, start by singing some solfa echoes. Build them up from so-mi to do-re-mi-so-la and always include the patterns from the piece.
  • Next take out one set of flashcards and help the student to sing them. Start with the easiest.

Play the Game

Lay one set of cards face up and hold the other set in your hand (easiest first). Show the student the first card, and sing it. The student must echo, and then find the correct card from the set laid out. The student is using their aural and visual skills to find the matching card.

  • Extension 1 – if the student is confident reading solfa, they can sing straight from the card without help
  • Extension 2 – just sing without showing them the card so they have to rely on their aural and reading skills and not just matching the visual patterns
  • Extension 3 – the student becomes the teacher, they select the card and sing it and you can find the match

Other Games

You could lay the cards face down and play a Memory Game, either visually with two sets of cards, or aurally where you just sing the pattern. Alternatively Kim’s Game where you take away one of the patterns and they have to identify which is missing.

Do let me know if you think of any other games you or your students think of. The most important thing is that the student sings the patterns, whatever the game. Our aim is to prepare the patterns in the aural memory of the student so that when they come across them in the piece, they are familiar and comforting.


The student can create their own sequence using the two sets of flashcards. Ask them to place their favourite patterns in a line across the floor. They have composed their own melody! Ask them or help them to sing it. Do they like it? Would they like to change anything? Do they need to create a “final note” such as do to finish? A quick snap with an camera, tablet or smartphone can record their work to be sent home. If you have time you could get some manuscript paper and either write it out or use circle stickers.

Single Line Score

Cloud of Starlings WashiThe single line score removes the Bass Clef and any hands together work and just looks at the melody. Once the student has composed their own piece, you can tell them that someone else has composed a piece using the same patterns. It’s called Cloud of Starlings.

At this point we’re still trying to get the melody of the piece into the students inner ear, and not trying to play it on the piano.

  • Sing the patterns in solfa and, using the flashcards if necessary, ask the students to find the patterns on the score
  • Using colouring pencils, post its or washi tape show how the patterns make up the piece.

In this picture my student has used coloured washi tape. When we move onto the full score in Going Wild they used the same colours to mark out the piano score. Once the melody was confidently learnt, we removed them to show all the notes and the bass clef notes were added.

And that’s how to prepare a piece with no lyrics. The only limit to the activities is your imagination so get creating and share your ideas with us!

Very Effective – Review of DoReMi Piano Book 1

Thank you so much Lindsay for this lovely review of DoReMi Piano

“This is a good, thorough grounding in basic music skills, that will lend itself both to individual, and to group teaching. I particularly liked the Improvisation section (Unit 2.9) as a simple but really effective introduction to the joys of improvisation and composition in a sociable way, and also Unit 3.2 on using the thinking voice to understand pulse and rhythm.

The way that homework is used is also potentially very effective, and perfect for the young child – getting them to teach new songs to someone at home is inspired!

Music as a social activity really comes through.”