In the mode in a nut shell:

  • Guide a student to start composing using a mode
  • The easiest way is to use only the white keys of the piano
  • Take for instance Aeolian A, use A minor, G major and F major chords in the accompaniment


This is an easy task but the music sounds immediately good. That’s because I often give this task for students which compose for the first time. Students can improvise with this task freely and take to their composition, what they like in their playing. Many times the composition grows quite large, so we skip doing the notation and save the finished composition as an audio record or a video.

The idea is to use modes. The easiest way is to use a mode that contains only white keys, for example Aeolian A. Tell your student to start playing a minor chord, then adding long notes to the melody by using only white keys. Then he or she can change the chord to G major and F major and vary the melody with shorter notes and different kind of rhythms. Quite soon there is a little piano piece.

How to help student to grow composition larger?

  • Accompaniment variation
    • playing chords differently, use for example arpeggios, broken chords
  • Melodic variation
    • playing melody from higher or lower
    • Changing melody to left hand and accompaniment to the right hand
  • Mode variation
    • Use a different mode in some part of the composition, for example Aeolian E in B section   

Here’s a example sheet music from this task. In the end there’s an example of varying the accompaniment.

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