I don’t listen to pop music much these days but in teaching, my piano students bring enough pop songs into piano lessons. Most of the songs are up-to-date popular ones among youngsters. This itself is an education for me, they do all the researching, they pick the best ones! So many new songs out there but those selected by teenagers are often the best kind. And I must admit some of their choices are very educationally sound. Simple piano arrangement but chock-full of effective harmonies. The problem is that those songs are usually written in a key that is often not easy for piano beginners, but none of my students want to learn in a different key, they want the original! So far, their motivation is strong enough, and none of them has given up yet. They eventually get it. I have this teenage beginner who started learning the piano about a year ago. She went through, Ellie Goulding’s vesrion of Elton John’s Your Song, Adele’s Someone Like You, Sara Bareilles’ Love Song, now working on Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts, all in a original key; Bb major, A major, F major, Eb major.

When my students ask for a certain song, most of the time, I don’t have the music written out exactly how it’s done in the recording, so my usual task after taking a request is to transcribe it from the recording, so they get to play how they know it. What you normally get in the process of transcribing is to discover how well some of the songs are written, harmonically and strucrally. And there are some gorgeous harmonic sequences that are usually the reason why teenage/adult students are drawn to.

Sooner or later, they start exploring their creative traits by having a go at writing a song of their own, I can’t wait to see how they’ll develop. Part of joy being a teacher…