I stumbled upon a piece of piano music that I fell in love with. Since it seems like I’m always late to find out what’s popular, I’m sure everyone has already heard of this composer and song. If you haven't, let me introduce you to a young Korean composer named Yiruma. The piece I’m talking about is called “River Flows in You”.
http://www.myspace.com/yiruma I gave this piece to two of my teenage piano students recently and knew I’d found a winner when they both came back to lessons the next week and had learned it!
I love to play “River Flows in You” myself, and one day as I was playing it, I analyzed the form and realized that the left hand plays the same chord progression throughout the whole song. The right hand plays a simple melody (verse or part A) and embellishes it with running notes and slight modifications in melody. Then the right hand plays a second melody (chorus or part B) with embellishments.
Wow, I thought, what a simple framework to have my teenage students try to write their own composition. So at their next lesson I helped them discover the form of the piece and the simple left hand chord progression (I love to let them discover things—then they internalize the concepts). I had them create their own four chord progression and play it several times, then asked them to play a simple melody with their right hand—creating it on the spot. They put the hands together and both students were pleased with what they had created in 5 minutes.
The next step was to embellish the melody and tweak it to keep it interesting. I sent my students home with encouragement to finish their piece. One student came back for help a couple of days later because she was going to perform her composition at a youth music recital for Church. I LOVE it when I can hook a student into music, and especially when they’re hooked to compose their own music.
Thank you, Yiruma.