What You Will Need:
2 or more piano students (upper elementary and older)
A song that these students like to listen to a lot
1 Die (small is fine, but GIANT is more exciting)
What You Do:
Teach each student individually how to play the song by rote. (Most likely you will just teach the chorus or a popular riff in the song). You can even have the 1st student help you show the 2nd student how the song goes
Have each student go to a piano
Have each student pick a number from 1-6 and whisper it in your ear
Roll the die until one of the numbers comes up. That is the student who will play first.
The first student plays. As soon as he makes a mistake he must immediately stop playing. Now it is the other student’s turn.
They continue to take turns until someone plays it through with no mistakes. That person receives a point. If they both play it correctly, they both get a point.
The first person to get 3 points is the winner
Why This Works for the Students:
This formula works because of 2 key ingredients: A song the students like and the friendly competition. Being the first to correctly play a song that you and your friends love significantly raises a student’s level of cool!
Why This Works for the Teacher:
Students will be practicing without even realizing it!
Quick and fun theory review!
At our practice achievement celebrations this week, I drew music theory concepts on balloons and had students randomly pick 2-3 balloons. I told them that if they could correctly identify what was on the balloon, they could pop the balloon. If they correctly identified all 3 of them then they also got the joy of taking a purple balloon home with them.
I got the idea for this activity while reading Ron Clark’s book, The End of Molasses Classes. It is an AWESOME read!
I used different variations of the activity also.
Finally, my favorite variation – In Family Feud Style I gave 2 students each a blank balloon. I sat them in chairs back to back and told them they had 20 seconds to draw as many music symbols as they could think of on the balloon. Whoever had the most would get to pop the balloons.
They had a blast with it!
Pinterest has got to be one of the greatest resources for inspiration that I’ve ever come across! While browsing the site recently I came across an activity from a school party that used broken hearts to review numbers that was pinned by Ann Berman. Someone suggested making a music matching game with this idea, so I did! I used it as a review for note and rest values. My 3 year old student LOVED it. The game was very easy to make. I used foam hearts and a sharpie to draw a quarter note, half note, whole note, and their corresponding rests on one half of each heart. On the other I wrote the number value. Then I cut the hearts down the middle in different shapes to make unique puzzles in order to make the activity self-correcting.
Do you use Pinterest? If so, leave your link in a comment below. Then hop on over to my Pinterest page and check out some of my boards.
This is a guest post from a 4th grader who wishes to remain anonymous. Parents, students, and teachers will enjoy getting involved with performance prep using this piano student’s ideas! Some of my most successful teaching strategies have come from the students themselves. I love their creativity!
Play American Idol:
Have the people in the room give critiques to help the student play better.
Play Elmo Says:
Tickle Me Elmo loves to say, “Again, Again!” You should too!
Have the student play again and again and when you think they have it ask for them to play the song with their eyes closed. Any other songs the person will play that special night go through the same process. Tell them how much time is left until the night of the concert. Motivate them to try harder if they say they can’t do it. It is all in the purpose of learning that they can do this. Play games with them to remember the song. Show the kid how they can make their playing more interesting.
Play Open & Close ‘Em:
Try to go through the whole song with your eyes closed and if you hear the wrong note open your eyes.Then put your hand in the right place to continue the song and try not to mess up on the same part.
Play Tic Tac Toe:
Instructions for tic-tac-toe – You try to play the song one time and if everything is right you make an X or O. Keep playing the song until the student wins.
Here is a new game to help teach/reinforce note reading.
Small poster board or other heavy paper
Twizzlers Pull Apart Candy
Dum Dum Lollipops
Ways To Play:
For group lessons: After making a staff and bass/treble clef using the Twizzlers, have the student(s) place lollipops on notes you specify.
For each note they properly place, they get to eat the lollipop or save it for after the lesson
For private lessons: You can have the board completely set up with staff, clef, and notes made of lollipops and skittles. Then have each student choose a lollipop or skittle they want at the end of their lesson. They get to eat it ONLY IF they can correctly name the note.
This game can also be used to help students identify note on lines or spaces.
For more advanced students you can have them play the melody built by the notes for a bonus take home bag of candy.
I found this bucket of dominoes on a recent trip to Tuesday Morning for around $5! If your local store doesn’t have it you can get it on Amazon.com for $14.99. The bucket comes with 250 blank dominoes in 5 different colors. I am using the dominoes to help piano students learn to spell scales and build chords.
Using a sharpie, I wrote the letters of the music alphabet on individual dominoes. Then I drew sharps and flats on the dominoes as well. You will notice that I chose to use orange for all the sharps and blue for all the flats. There are more than enough dominoes to make a complete set of each of the 12 major scales without even using all of them. I ended up having a whole set of red dominoes left over to use for something else. I might use one side for numbers 1-7 and the other side for Roman Numerals to help students learn the scale degrees.
It took me about an hour to draw all the letter names and symbols, so if you’ve got an hour to spare now for this project it could save you several hours in the future because you can surely use this for teaching lots of theory concepts. An added bonus is that it is self – containing. The bucket easily stores all the pieces in one place!
Here is a simple tool you can use to help young piano students develop stronger fingers and increase their fine motor skills. Yes, the basic clothespin can do this! I dressed mine up so that it wouldn’t look so basic. All I did was color each clothespin with a marker and add a music symbol embellishment. You can easily find these at craft stores.
Students can use these Finger Builders to squeeze with each of their fingers and the thumb. Be sure to demonstrate to students how to squeeze with their fingertip and without letting their finger collapse. This will help promote a round hand shape to use at the piano.
Another fun way to use these Finger Builders is to have the student pretend that the Finger Builder is a crocodile looking for food. Have them use it to “eat” small objects around the studio.
After a Google search for a rug for my group music classroom only turned up results over $150, I decided to make my own. Actually it is a giant mat made out of foam tiles that I purchased from Wal Mart at $5.97 per set of 9. I bought 5 sets. The picture above shows a smaller version of my Giant Music Mat.
To make your own here is what you need:
5 or more sets of foam tiles (depends on the size you want)
a black marker
Choose tiles of the same color and arrange them in a square shape
Create a border for the square you’ve made using tiles of different colors. Alternate colors.
Use a black marker to draw a different music symbol on each of the border tiles.
If you plan to use your giant mat to designate where each child should sit during group class, it is important to draw a DIFFERENT music symbol on each tile. Do not repeat symbols.
There are so many ways you can use this mat besides just sitting! As I already stated, it can be used to assign seats. This shortens the time it takes to get kids situated and ready for class to begin. At the beginning of the year or session, assign a unique symbol to each child. This will be their spot. Make sure they know the name of their symbol and what it means. You could even have kids act out the meaning. At a parent presentation, kids could “show and tell” using their symbol. Have them hold up their tile while presenting it.
What other ways can you think of for using the Giant Music Mat?
Thanks to one of the teachers in the Music Teacher’s Group on Facebook, I learned about this great music game! Wonderful for working on rhythm without even realizing it! Available on iTunes. I used it with my rising 6th graders in Music Camp this week (all boys) and they loved it!!!