Fun Piano Improv for Little Hands

Today we have a guest post by piano teacher Kristin Jensen. She has a wonderful website full of creative and adorable activities to get piano students improvising on the piano! I think you're going to love it!

Want to know the best way to help kids master their music theory? Show them how to create their own music.

Kids love creating their own songs! When you teach your students to create, kids are even more excited about studying the piano, the parents think you’re an amazing teacher, and the kids really internalize the concepts you’re teaching.

Even very young students can successfully improvise and compose songs. I have two four year old students who always blow me away with their creations. These kids are confident and much more skilled than I was at that age! They have fun at the keys and take great pride in performing their masterpieces for others.

Here’s a quick activity that you can use with young students to get them started with piano improv. Kids love this activity—especially when you turn it into a fun themed contest. Ask all the kids to draw a picture of a space creature from Planet [insert your own silly planet name, or let the kids decide] or a strange critter from under the sea. Then show them this improv formula and turn them loose to create a song for their creature.  Have the kids perform for each other at a group lesson and give awards. The kids will have a blast!

Step 1: Position the Hands

Refer to the diagram to position the hands. Note the finger numbers.

Step 2: Play Through the Scale

Begin with left hand finger 4 and play each finger in order. Go up and then back down. You can even expand the scale into the next octave. Remember that the left hand always plays white keys and the right hand always plays the three black key group.

Step 3: Create Your Own Song

Now that you know which keys to play, you can start creating your song. Play the highlighted keys in any combination. Experiment to find the sequences and sounds you like.

If you know your music theory, you’ve probably recognized that this activity is based on the whole-tone scale. You now have a perfect lesson plan for introducing or reinforcing whole and half steps!

Visit for video tutorials and more fun ideas on how to teach kids to create their own music.

Kristin Jensen is a piano teacher who specializes in teaching kids to create their own music. Kristin loves working with young musicians and developing creative ways to accelerate their learning. Visit to see Kristin’s music teaching tips.

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