The Talking Piano Bench That Teaches Sight-Reading

Piano Bench Student

Piano Bench Student

Sadly, the piano bench is an often overlooked treasure chest in the piano room. On the day my first piano was delivered when I was just a little girl, I can remember being as enamored with the piano bench as I was with the piano itself. The piano had 88 keys for me to tickle, but the bench held books full of songs that could be played on those 88 keys. Looking into that piano bench was like being in a gold mine full of sheet music! The piano bench was where I could find even more songs besides the ones that my teacher had given me to learn. I could actually look in there and discover new sounds that my fingers could produce. I have found though that my kids don’t think to look in the piano bench for music books. (This fact baffles me). I have also found in my years of working with piano students that a lot of them don’t seek out new music on their own.  (Again, this baffles me).

Thinking about my piano bench and all the musical treasure it holds gave me an idea! As piano teachers and musicians, we know the importance of being able to sight-read. We also know that the best way for a student to improve at sight-reading is to SIGHT READ. So, why not use the piano bench’s treasure chest quality to get kids excited about sight-reading?

To transform the piano bench into The Talking Piano Bench That Teaches Sight Reading, I used 3 sticky notes, the panic button, a prize, and a carefully selected piece of music for sight-reading practice according to the student’s skill level. Then the student was told to lift the bench and follow the instructions on the sticky notes.

Open Piano Bench


Piano Bench Panic Button

Click to see post about Panic Button

Piano Bench Sight Reader

Piano Bench Prize

The instant gratification associated with this activity made it very successful with the students. Now, they look forward to the chance to see what’s in the bench. They enjoy that and I enjoy seeing their sight-reading skills grow!


8 thoughts on “The Talking Piano Bench That Teaches Sight-Reading

    • fame1444 says:

      Rebecca, one idea comes to me right now – You could tape a sheet of music underneath the bench for the student to discover. This could also work REALLY well if you have a group class. Then you could choose one or two benches depending on the number of students and have a sheet of music underneath. You would have everybody look under their bench to see if they are a “winner”. Then those students would get to try sight reading the piece for a prize or challenge another student to do it instead!


  1. Nancy Wang says:

    Great idea!! I never would have thought of this. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with all the other music I have in there!!


    • fame1444 says:

      That was a problem for me too! I ended up putting it…oh wait, I don’t even know what I did with it! I hope it’s not lost among the endless piles of songbooks I have!


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