The Playground

The Simply Music blog

Musical Tricks & Treats For Halloween

Found in: Coaching, Miscellany & Merriment, Tutorials


Halloween is just around the corner, so we thought we’d share some musical tricks and treats to get you in the spirit 😉

How about some ghoulish new lyrics to Night Storm? Here are some ideas from Katie Knipp:
Rolling pumpkins, witches gather, isn’t it a fright?
Ghosts and monsters, zombies, goblins, Halloween night”
For an additional project, come up with your own scary lyrics to bring to the next class.

Jeanne Whiting points out how easy it is to come up with your own Halloween variations of the above dark and stormy tune just by improvising on white keys with the right hand over the existing left hand.

Cheri Schulzke assembled (using Google) a collection of Halloween poems that work really well for student compositions. Starting with both hands in the same position as Night Storm gives a suitably dark setting.

Carol Pilarczyk suggests another piece that works for spooky lyrics, if you’ve reached it, is Tear for a Friend.

Brenda Piper DiZeregna and Stephen Reidel have taught some of their students Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The sheet music should be widely available. Take it to your teacher. He or she can see if you’re ready to give it a go with their help, even if it’s only the first few measures for a dramatic introduction to your celebrations.

Here’s a tip from Katie for teachers who have students learning reading: “Since I have a love of candy corns this time of year, let’s use them in a reading rhythm game. Pretend the candy corns represent 8th or 16th notes, and ask the class “how many of these 8th note candy corns equal one half note? Do the same with whole, quarter, etc.. If they get it right on the first guess they can scarf them down (with the parents’ permission of course). To make it more exciting, time them to guess within 5 seconds”.

Laurie Richards suggests playing Jackson Blues with all minor chords. If you haven’t learned minor chords yet, they are super-easy. Start with a Major chord (the right hand chords of Jackson Blues are Major) and simply move right hand finger 3 to the nearest black note below. For the left hand, play it as normal, except moving the thumb up to the nearest black note instead of a white. Dianne Correia turns this into a duet by having another player improvising on C, D and Eb at the same time. You can take this even further by moving this shape up to F and G (IV and V) as your partner moves.

Katie shares one final, all-ages favorite, modifying Squidgies Boogie (from Foundation 5) to play and sing: “A few years ago I did a Christmas Squidgies Boogie. So why not a Halloween version? The lyrics are:
“There’s a Halloween party tonight!
Everybody dress up right,
There’s a Halloween party tonight,
Everybody gonna dress up right,
You can eat your candy and drink the witches brew, Halloween party…with you”

Now I am certain you can come up with your own set of lyrics, but you get the point. Have fun!”