Become a music arranger with ‘I Love Coffee I Love Tea’ and ‘Knuckles’! [Part V]

To arrange music is to add your own personal spin. It’s a creative activity like composing, but instead of inventing a brand-new melody or chord progression, you’re re-working tunes that are already known to listeners.

The value you add to the music is your own ‘special touch’ that no one else has yet thought of.

I Love Coffee, I Love Tea is a traditional piano piece. Oral music is passed on person to person over many generations and usually takes on small changes after a while. You may notice in the videos below that there are many different ways to play it!

This blog post challenges you to make changes on purpose and rearrange the order of the different parts in your own special way.

Prior to making your own creative decisions, listen to the videos below and then decide how you’d like to arrange the music.

Here are some suggestions on changes you might make:

  • Begin with an opening or intro.
  • Choose which ‘riffs’ you’d like to include in your version.
  • You might leave other riffs out.
  • Choose the order you’d like to play them.
  • Change some rhythms.
  • Go up instead of down, or down instead of up.
  • Change the octave the music is played in.
  • Change the tempo, either slower or faster.

Intro or Ending Pattern

This pattern is played at the end of each part of I Love Coffee, I Love Tea. It could also be played as an intro or between each tune!

Watch the YouTube video of the ending pattern, which could be used as the intro!

Moving across the keys

The two following riffs move across the piano keys. How might you change them?

Watch the YouTube video of the Pentatonic scale on black keys!
Watch the YouTube video of the chromatic pattern starting on the highest C on the piano!

‘Knuckles’ or ‘Fisticuffs’

The two following videos demonstrate the rolling knuckle pattern.

Notice that different people play this in different octaves on the piano. Which octave will you choose for your arrangement?

Watch the YouTube video of ‘Knuckles’ or ‘Fisticuffs’ just up from the middle of the piano.
Watch the YouTube video of “Knuckles’ or “Fisticuffs’ in a higher octave!


The following three tunes all make use of catchy little key patterns, one on black keys only and the others on black and white keys. Will you choose one or two or use all three?

I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

Watch the YouTube video on the ‘I Love Coffee, I Love Tea’ tune.

That’s Where the Money Goes

Watch the YouTube video on ‘That’s Where the Money Goes’

Zigzag Tune

Watch the YouTube video of the Zigzag tune!

Bonus: Arrange the Bass and Chords

Here are two different ways of playing the bass and chords of the lower duet part. Both have the exact same chord progression, but with slightly different arrangements. Will you choose one or the other, or combine parts of both into your own unique arrangement?

Watch the YouTube video of the lower duet with right hand chords and small chromatic moves.
Watch the YouTube video on the lower duet with a simplified right hand and no chromatic moves.

Now take the tunes you’ve heard above and mix and match them into your very own arrangement! Then teach it to a friend!

Do you like this post and want more? In the side menu click “follow” to get notification of my posts each week in your inbox.

I appreciate shares, comments and likes! Happy teaching!

Rebekah Maxner, composer, blogger, piano teacher. Follow my blog for great tips!

Video of the Week

The Way Back Home, Intermediate, Level 4, has a lyric folk style in Aeolian. The melody has flowing eighths with scalar runs, similar to an Intermediate sonatina. The LH features intervals in various rhythms including syncopations, carries the tune in one section, and in several places, plays over the RH. This piece captures the feeling of making your way back home. When it’s been a while and there’s a long journey ahead, this is what it sounds like.

Watch The Way Back Home on YouTube!
Listen to a sound clip of a different ‘I Like Coffee, I Like Tea’!

3 thoughts on “Become a music arranger with ‘I Love Coffee I Love Tea’ and ‘Knuckles’! [Part V]

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