Today we’re sharing something we’ve never done before – our first resource in our new shop! Over the past few years, we’ve shared many free resources and we’ll continue to share these because we love it. But we also keep having BIG ideas. Ideas that take a few months to create and we wanted to open a small shop on our blog to share them. So today is the first idea we spent hours on to make this amazing ebook for you – titled, Animal Improv.

Now when we talk with all of our colleagues and piano friends, everyone is a huge believer in the value of improvisation and composition. But regularly mixing this into lessons and knowing how to teach them seems to be the problem we heard over and over. We know lesson time is so valuable and with so many great books/methods available it becomes easy to follow those. However most of them only have some improv or composition and it’s not developed weekly or even monthly. Then we know how nervous our students get to create something when they only do it once or twice a year. They worry that they may play something “wrong” or they just can’t come up with an idea to move forward with…

Thus Animal Improv was born. We wanted a book we could give our students or keep in a binder near us to pull out each week with ease. Something that took all the planning and preparation time away from improvisation, so we were set to jump in with those 2 extra minutes at the end of the lesson! We wanted something with teacher duets so the sound is amazing to the students’ ears from the very first try. We needed something simple, that didn’t take more theory time or writing work at home but just let students start playing with simple ideas to get them going right away.

And so we created this ebook full of ideas for students to interpret and discover on a topic everyone loves – ANIMALS! And by animals, we mean everything under the kingdom Anamalia including insects, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals, and so much more. We tried to cover as many different types of animals in this book 1 so hopefully everyone finds one of their favorites.

When you open up to a new activity you will see the following:

  1. First there are few facts about the animals to get the students interested and focused.
  2. A challenge is given using one of these animal traits to create a piece about the animal.
  3. Then students are given a hand position to play in (pictures included).
  4. Each animal has a picture to start the imagination firing up as they listen to the teacher’s accompaniment and creating their own song to express this animal.
  5. Next students jump in and play!

Students can interpret the directions however they want to, there are no right or wrong answers. This exercise can be sent home with students to create new improvs each day. Or students can create an even longer version on their own as they expand on their ideas during practice time that week.

The ebook includes a wonderful teacher accompaniment for every piece. So many new time signatures and rhythms for beginners to start feeling! We also included 10 backing tracks for the teacher to share so students can listen and play along at home if they’d like too!

This is our first book of Animal Improv so it’s meant for beginners. We start with black key improvising and slowly move into five finger patterns. Teacher parts were written to explore Major, minor and Lydian mode sounds. It’s so neat to give students the chance to explore more sounds and  begin to create those colors right from the start!  Our goal for our students is that they love composing and improvising right away – that it becomes a natural part of playing piano.

Now we know you want to see a sample of what’s inside right?! So we’ve made a special sample with 2 improvisation activities at the beginner level. We want you to try this with your students right away so we will be giving this to you through our newsletter. Our newsletters regularly go out on Thursdays to share our posts during the week in case you missed a post. But this special newsletter with the free sample ebook goes out to our regular readers today (with a special code good for only this weekend!). So if you’re not on our newsletter list yet, join quickly! We’ll send you your free sample ebook when you sign up for the newsletter. (Signups are at the end of this page or at the top of the page on the right side bar!)

We are so excited for you to try these neat activities with your students. Let’s make improvising a part of every piano lesson! We believe that every student (whether young or old) has a natural ability to create within them. They thrive with opportunities to compose at the piano and make up their own music. Most of the time, they just need a little nudge or a starting idea to jump off from. That’s where this book comes in. We hope you love this book!

Ready to check it out? Go here to see our Animal Improv Book 1!

Author: Whitney

Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at