Ahh the Christmas rush has begun! With so much planning and practicing and blah blah blah I haven’t had any time to blog since before Thanksgiving. So, while I am briefly coming up for air I thought I’d make amends by giving you a special gift.
Now, I can’t take credit for this gift (I came across it online) but believe me it is a good one and it is for YOU if you teach music to anybody of any age! I was browsing through my bookmarks and came across a site that I had bookmarked for future reference and forgotten about. It is a Music Educators Resource list that has EVERYTHING you could possibly want for teaching ideas. From classroom discipline ideas, theme ideas, and games to specifics on working with Middle School boys and private lessons you are sure to find lots of info you can use.
To open your gift, just click the link below. Once on the site you can select the entire page and paste into a word processing document on your computer so you will always have it handy!
This is not how you eat a sandwich!
Piano students sometimes take on too much when learning a new piece. They attempt to learn a whole section at a time or even worse the whole song! When this happens in my studio I whip out this picture that my daughter so graciously agreed to take as a visual to remind students that we eat a sandwich one bite at a time. Then we chew. Then we swallow.
Translated for piano – we learn one bite at a time – maybe a measure or right hand only or whatever. Then we chew. Play what we learned several times before moving on to the next bite. By now the picture is enough to remind my students to take it SLOWLY!
Have you ever seen a cool music item that you wished your piano parents would buy for their kids? If you’re anything like me the answer is YES!!! With Black Friday and Christmas just around the corner I thought I’d put in a plug for my students and ask their parents for some gifts on their behalf. (What kid doesn’t love a piano teacher who gets their parents to buy them cool gifts?) Here’s my list:
For Preschoolers: This wooden puzzle has sounds and helps kids learn how the keyboard is set up. Perfect for learning the music alphabet, and key names. Instrument pieces play short tunes that will have kids and parents dancing around!
For Elementary and Older:
Let ‘em wear it – a T shirt that says “88 keys- 10 fingers - no problem”
Let ‘em hear the music! – ipod shuffle or ipod nano
Give ‘em fun classics – Timeless music set to funny original lyrics
$19.99 Toys R Us
$11.07 on amazon.com
This is by no means a full list!!! I could go on and on about great gifts for music students. What’s on your Christmas Wish List for your students?
Recitals, performances, and anxiety – Oh My! Yes, it’s that time of year when limited time and looming performances can send piano students (and teachers) over the edge. So, I thought I’d share with you my new find that can lighten up the situation and make it more fun! Recently I got a new addition to go with the EASY button that sits on my teaching piano. It’s called the Panic Button. It features the familiar Hoops and YoYo characters from Hallmark and in true Hoops and YoYo style is HILARIOUS.
Whenever I see a kid approaching that point – you know the one where their eyes freeze up and frustration takes over – I say, “Quick Hit The Panic Button!” We both end up rolling with laughter as soon as they hit that button. I think this item is only available in stores but it is so worth a trip to the store!
Knock Knock Who’s There?
Recently I introduced a game I call “Knock Knock Who’s There?” in my music studio. When students arrive they see a secret rhythm code posted. To get into the studio they must correctly knock that rhythm. They also earn a gold coin (purchased from Party City) upon entry. Gold coins add up and the student with the most gold coins at the end of the semester gets an award. Oh and if a student doesn’t get the rhythm then I get to do what I do best – teach them how!
I have lots of different rhythm card sets, but with all the focus on candy last month I used the candy rhythm set from D’Net Layton’s site which you can get here.
Knock Knock Who’s There is a great way to begin the lesson by getting them thinking musically from the start. Parents are also getting in on the game. My students and I sometimes catch them standing outside trying to guess the rhythm when they come for pick up. We all get a kick out of it. A great way to end the lesson as well!
“Crocky Loves Music”
Besides the piano, this is probably the most used thing in my studio. Years ago when my children were preschool age someone gave them this toy crocodile game. To play, you push down his teeth one at a time. Apparently one of his teeth is bad and it hurts him when you push that tooth. So, he slams his mouth shut. The cool thing is that the bad tooth changes every time you play! All the kids in my studio love the shock of finding the bad tooth!
So, how does Crocky help us play piano? Well whenever we run into a tricky passage or something that needs to be played several times, we ask Crocky for help. The student plays the part we are working on and gets to push a tooth each time they play it. Once Crocky closes his mouth we know we’re finished working on that part for now.
The anticipated shock of Crocky closing his mouth and of guessing which one is the bad tooth keep the kids wanting to play their tricky piano parts over and over again! Sometimes they even ask “Where is Crocky” as soon as they enter the studio!
As I said, I’ve had Crocky for a long time, but you can probably find one at a toy store or maybe even online.
Do you have any especially fun props or characters that you use with your students to get them to do repetitions? I’d love to hear about them!
Every now and then a certain piece from one of the method books just captivates a student and gets their creative juices flowing in extraordinary ways. My daughter experienced this recently during her piano lesson. She is in Level 2A of Faber Piano Adventures and was learning the Detective Agency Song. She really enjoyed the melody and the lyrics. As a big fan of the TV show So Random! she is really into skits. So, she made up a skit to go along with her song. So, I suggested that she make a video. This got her super excited and of course she planned it down to the smallest detail and played the song over and over again on the piano. What more could a piano teacher/mom ask for?
Click here to see her idea brought to life – Detective Agency Song Drama
Thanks to a post on Natalie Whickham’s Blog, my students have been enjoying this wonderful new app. It systematically teaches staff notation and rhythm while captivating the student in the story of a princess. Girly girls in my studio LOVE LOVE LOVE it. This app has some fun extras for kids also – as you move through the levels you unlock different fashion items for the princess and you can even take pictures of the princess!
I highly recommend this app for students who may be struggling with staff notation. It can be purchased in the itunes store.