Teaching 101: Supplemental Music — Single Sheets

Supplemental Music is a vital part of creating an interesting musical life for your students.

Here are some situations where you’ll want to use a Supplemental Piece:

  • Challenge piece — use the novelty of the piece to challenge the student
  • Sum it all up — enjoy your skills you have an don’t try anything new
  • Holiday music — use familiar tunes to teach slightly harder rhythms
  • Seasonal Music —Halloween music can make teaching minor music more fun and interesting.

Here are some of the kinds of music you’ll want to include:


Sheet music, a single piece published as a stand-alone work, is one of the greatest motivators for students. There is something magical about being handed a single piece and knowing that your teacher selected it just for you, just at this time. Some series, like Piano Town, have correlated Solos. This can help make selecting them easier.

Another way is simply to think about the skills your student has (They can play and read eighth notes, but haven’t yet learned sixteenths – can play in five-finger position but no scales yet) and find a piece that matches those skills.

Here are just a few of my favorite published sheets at different levels.
I’ve used each of these with repeated success and recommend them:

Primer Level:

Level One

Level Two

There are also lots of downloadable single sheets available from me and other composers. 
Pros: can download and have it ready to use in immediately.
Studio Licenses mean you can buy the piece once and use it forever.
Cons: can be tough to manage, you have to print and assemble them
yourself and keep track of the digital files as well as the hard copies.


  • Little Mouse by Elissa Milne. The art is adorable and age appropriate for a very young child. 
  • Carol of the Bells (my arrangement) can be used with any age student, including adults

Video Transcript:

When you’re teaching piano you’re going to want to supplement whatever method you’re using with other materials. So the first kind of supplemental music I want to talk about a sheet music. And I want to start off by showing you some examples of music I really enjoy teaching when you pick supplemental material especially if you’re thinking about a sheet. You’ll want to think about what the purpose of this pieces in your student’s education so what I mean by that is think about whether you wanted to be a challenge piece where the novelty of a new peace as she perhaps is going to make them work a little bit harder or whether you want it to be kind of a sum up thing where they’ve already learned everything that’s there and then they can feel good about how quickly they learn the peace whether you want to use it for a recital maybe or you want to use it as a holiday peace whatever your purposes but will also that will also influence what level peace you choose. So I just wanted to show you one of the easiest ways to pick up sheet music for your student is to pick what’s called correlated solos which is music that’s created to match the level of a method so for instance if you’re in the pro mark primer level of piano town you might want to use primer level pieces this is a piece called the audience that appears on almost every recital that I ever do because the lyrics are really inspiring for children and it’s a beautiful piece of music. Here’s another per level and called swimming with dolphins so this is an example of a piece that has a kind of a a catchy concept if a student’s been fortunate enough to have a vacation where they went to swim with dolphins are certainly going to want to play this piece and if they have it and they think that sounds interesting maybe they can imagine what it would be like to do something as glamorous as to swim with dolphins but these are examples of he says that the art and the leveling can match together to make a really successful experience for your students here is an example of a level one piece called tumble track obviously it’s a piece about gymnastics and trampoline and that could be a hook for some students who was really interested in gymnastics. Here to slightly more sophisticated pieces of federal level 2 pieces of this is the vanishing villain which has kind of a creepy sound to it and at the end there’s a big glissando that goes up to finish the whole piece and you can teach that’s absolutely by rote it’s the first piece that I wrote that set me off on my attention Robert journey which I’ll talk about more in another video but this is a level 2 piece and here’s one called the bridge to forever yeah it’s sort of interesting if you look at the progression of the art on these so here’s a primer level piece that shows a very young girl. And then by the time you get to the bridge for 2 for ever the art is starting to change and the less age specific so that’s one thing you’ll also want to look for when you’re choosing a method is to choose a method let’s say you’re gonna spend 4 years in a method the child is not always going to be the same age so you want the 8 the art and lyrics to mature as the student gets older. So those are some examples of correlated. Of sheet music here just a few of my favorite favorite pieces to teach here’s a piece by William Gillock called Sonatina Angie I teach it every year pretty much it’s just a really first rate sonatina that’s published as a single sheet which makes it feel important when I sign it. There’s another piece that I love to a science called the jazz sonatina and it’s by Robert vandal it’s a 3 movement sonatina that has lots of jazzy chords and harmonies and then. This is just an example of. He’s that I’ve talked with great success called echoes of Egypt by Kevin Olsen who’s a fabulous American composer. Of and finally this is just an example of another piece early intermediate it’s called out planet the final battle if you have students who are interested in space and things like that so you can use she needs to hone in on something that might be of interest to your students and help them use that interest to get interested in a piece of music. The other thing I want to talk about is downloadable sheets and I have 2 examples here downloadable sheets have a few big advantage as 1 of them is you can download it at 3:00 and teach it at 3:15 in other words you can grab something off the internet print it and use it quickly which sometimes is what you need to do. They’re a little harder to manage because you have to print them and then you have to assemble them but sometimes they have extra things that recommend them and I just wanted to show you here is an example of a sheet by Elissa Milne. It has an indoor cover it’s called Little Mouse. And then it has cool things for life it has a little matrix that you can print that shows all the notes you’re going to use in the piece so let’s say you have a student and you wanted to show them where their hands go if you have a printed sheet is they’re not going to have the opportunity to be able to give you a little added extras like. A little matrix that’s going to show you where your hands go for for instance I didn’t print out everyone of these but this is the peace without a key signature. And you can also download and print it with the key signature so sometimes downloadable pieces have extras that wouldn’t really be available if it had been printed because it would be too expensive to print say a small sheet that’s going to be used with a very young student print 8 pages but if it’s downloadable as a composer you can offer all these different kinds of things so here’s an example. Of a piece that I arranged so here’s a Carol of the Bells. Now obviously this is sort of age-neutral art so that means you can use it with somebody who’s young you can use it with anybody you want you want to take the time difference the cover. And then if you have the whole piece of course which in this case I happen to contend single sheets. Which means that I’m gonna have to put that together and decide how I’m going to do that I’m gonna. Blinded or if I’m gonna. That take the pieces together you thought twice this but here’s the extra there are teaching tips that go with Carol of the bells that will help you teach the piece so as I said downloadable tough both upsides and downsides and I would look for ones that have extra added things like things like teaching tips for different keys that you could play the peace and things like that that make it worth your while the other thing as many downloadable things have studio licenses studio license means you buy the downloadable material and you can keep it and use it for as many students as you want as long as you’re teaching piano so can be very economical because you don’t have to keep buying the peace over and over again but remember to factor in the fact that you have to keep track of the for the the file you have to print it and then you have to keep track of the new printed material so it’s not always as easy as having printed materials but it hasn’t upside so I use both of those things and enjoy them both very much.