Merrily We Improvise

Merrily We Improvise

Paul Colombino
[email protected]
Matunuck School, Wakefield, RI

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments




General Music


Multiple synthesizers such as Yamaha PSR 220 with built in accompaniment patterns


40 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Five-finger piano practice. Experience playing Merrily We Roll Along. One-finger chord accompaniment experience

MENC Standards Addressed:

MENC 2: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
MENC 3: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompaniments.


Copies of Merrily We Roll Along with chord symbols


Students will experience improvising over a known melody, using the first five notes of the major scale. The teacher will observe and offer suggestions for improvement.


1. Students, in pairs at keyboards will take turns reviewing the melody to Merrily We Roll Along 5 Minutes
2. Teacher will demonstrate simple rhythmic improvisation over the melody
3. Students will experiment with rhythmic improvisation 5 minutes
4. Teacher will demonstrate simple melodic improvisation
5. Students will experiment with melodic improvisation 10 minutes
6. Students will learn a one finger, two chord accompaniment using programmed accompaniments on synthesizer. Students will then choose an accompaniment style. 10 minutes
7. Pairs of students will play the piece, one student playing the accompaniment while the other plays an improvisation over the melody 10 minutes


Teacher will observe and evaluate by listening to students’ improvisation, judging correct rhythm and pitch as well as creativity. If computer connections are available, subsequent lesson and assessment can include saving the students’ improvisations as midi files and assessing.

Follow Up:

Follow up lessons could include more complex variations of Merrily We Roll Along as well as improvisations over other known songs.

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