Teaching Chords with Musical Dice!

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Visit www.ThePracticeShoppe.com to purchase Music Dice for this game!

4 Ways To Turn This Puzzle Into A Piano Teaching Tool

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With a creative mindset, The Dollar Tree can be a piano teacher’s greatest resource! Here is my latest find and how you can use it to make your piano teaching life easier – and more fun!

With 5 minutes and a sharpie, you can transform this simple wooden puzzle into a visual tool for:

1. Teaching Whole Note, Half Note and Quarter Note recognition and their matching rests.

2. Help students understand the concept of REST in music by asking – What side of the house is quite?

3. Help students understand the concept of Symbols representing sound in music by asking – What side of the house do you think is noisy?

4. Reinforce the concepts above by sending an unopened puzzle home with your student (You can afford it – remember it only costs $1). Have your student draw the symbols on the  puzzle and take a picture of it at home to show you their creation at the next lesson.

Bonus: Use the back of the puzzle to write steps 1-4 down (with a sharpie) to help you remember for the next time you use this!

Here is what your final creation will look like – unnamed-22

I found a few other cool things at my last trip to The Dollar Tree which I’ll be sharing in my next post! In the meantime, what everyday things have you transformed into piano teaching tools? Share in a comment below to help other teachers make piano lessons fun!

 

Keeping Piano Students Excited: Piano World Records

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After the excitement of Holiday concerts what can a piano teacher do to keep up the enthusiasm? Well, for the last two weeks I have been presenting the idea of setting world records in piano to my students! Kids LOVE seeing who is the fastest at something or who can do something the longest. And who wouldn’t want the title of World’s Greatest?! Piano offers endless possibilities for this type of goal from scales (ascending and descending) to age (youngest, only 8 year old to ever, etc).

One thing you want to be intentional about is helping students set goals. I explained to students that we have to train like an athlete to break a world record. For younger kids it is also helpful to set a short time frame. For example – the most songs learned in 1 week. You can even expand the contest to have Studio Records. These will be easier for students to conquer and just might spur them on to beating one of the world records like this one:

Fastest descending chromatic world record.

I will confess that when I tried to do the fastest descending chromatic scale it took me twice as long as the world record! So, I will be training right alongside my students this semester. We will be sure to post our results and pics of all the fun we had!

In the meantime, I’d like to extend the invitation for YOU to join us in trying to set or break a piano world record. You can get all the information by visiting Recordsetter.com

Stay tuned tomorrow for more inspiration on how to use Piano World Records to boost learning in your studio.

 

Student Review and Giveaway of Musical Words Game

Kennedy Habeeb

Welcome Kids and Keys readers to our first student/teacher co-review of a music education product! 10 yr old Kennedy  liked playing the Musical Words board game so much that she wanted to tell other teachers all about it so they could use it with their students.

Musical Words was created by Gail Fischler. If you read The Piano Addict blog, you are familiar with this amazing teacher. Her game is great for not only piano students but students of other instruments as well! The game is highly suitable for group lessons, buy Kennedy and I wanted to find out if it would work in a private lesson.

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Kennedy’s song of choice was Fur Elise. This was perfect since she has the song memorized already and she was able to put all her thoughts on interpreting the piece rather than trying to read notes (which she does well by the way).

Initially I did not fill in any of the blank spots on the game board. My thought process was, “What are the chances she will even land on one of those spots more than once?” Well, what actually happened was that Kennedy landed on a blank spot on EVERY turn. So, we cheated and had her move to one of the pre-marked spots the first 3 times this happened. Finally I had no choice but to think of some words to put in the blank spots! One of the words I came up with was “popcorn”. Kennedy had a terrific time with that one playing the whole thing in staccato! On a different turn she landed on the word “Mysterious”. This was pretty easy for her to do considering her song choice of Fur Elise. (I mean, who really knows who Elise was?) Another memorable moment in the game was when Kennedy landed on the word “comical”. She began to play Fur Elise with a range of different expressions and then added in some nonsensical chords that just didn’t go with the song at all. The result was indeed comical. She laughed and I laughed at her creative genius.

If you decide to play Musical Words with your students (and why wouldn’t you?), there is no need to be afraid of the blank spots. You can just hop over to The Musical Adjectives Project page for ideas or get some ideas from your students.

Here is what Kennedy said when I asked her about the experience:

“I like the choices, but popcorn was my favorite. Do I think other kids would enjoy playing this game? YES! Some words I would suggest are roughly and smoothly“.

Kennedy also said she thought there were too many blanks. I believe that is my fault and the next time I will definitely fill them in!

As a teacher I like the fact that this game pushes the student to COMMUNICATE musical ideas. This is an excellent tool for performance preparation as well as improvisation practice.

Ready to play? There are 2 ways to purchase Musical Words.

1)You have the option to purchase a set that is already laminated and printed with FREE Shipping in the Continental US from Fistful of Notes for $34 or Music Teachers Store. You get:

Laminated Game board with velcro fasteners (2 pcs)
Directions & Tips (2 sheets)
6 card stock game card sheets
1 master card sheet

Free Shipping within Continental US

2) You can purchase a download to print yourself from Music Teacher Store. Studio and family licenses are $14 or you can purchase a school license for $50. (If you choose this option I suggest you take your file to a copy and print center instead of printing at home due to the amount of ink necessary to print it. It uses LOTS of color.)

Gail has agreed to give one lucky winner a FREE download with a single teacher license ($14 value). To enter leave an adjective that you would use to fill in one of the blank spots on the game board in the comments. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014.

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The Ultimate Music Theory Worksheet Guide

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In the world of apps, apps, and more apps, a lot of teachers have decided to stop using worksheets altogether. If you are one of those teachers or if you are thinking about joining them, WAIT!!! As one of my music mentors always says, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”!  While I love using apps with my students, I find that the act of writing things down often solidifies learning more than interacting with material on a touch screen alone.

Of course, you have to have some VERY GOOD worksheets to even get your students interested. That is where today’s resource tip comes in. Kristin at www.eartraninigandimprov.com has done a LOT of work to make our lives as piano teachers easier! Not only has she compiled the ultimate guide to music theory worksheets, she has also posted a video index of the worksheets on her site with links to the FREE PRINTABLES.

 

I know you will be able to find some worksheets that will fit exactly into what you are teaching. In preparation, here are 3 ideas on how to give worksheets a fighting chance with your app-addicted students:

1. Worksheet Relay Race for group classes:

Have students work in groups of where students complete a series of worksheets as a group. The catch is that each student must complete a worksheet one at a time and the next student cannot begin until the previous student finishes. The group that completes the most worksheets in the designated time wins!

2. End of Lesson Challenge: Have your student complete a worksheet or series of worksheets during the last minute of lessons. Yes, only 60 seconds. If they are able to complete the whole worksheet or series of worksheets before time is up they get extra time with an app during the next lesson. The more worksheets they complete the more time they get to spend on the app.

3.Beginning of Lesson Challenge: Just like the End of Lesson Challenge except it comes in the FIRST minute of the lesson. The student would then get extra time with app during today’s lesson based on how many worksheets they were able to complete. Note: This version will also give you an idea of concepts that may need to be worked on during the lesson.

So, head on over to http://www.eartrainingandimprov.com/resources/music-theory-worksheets/ and get yourself some FREE WORKSHEETS!

10 Ways To Use A Deck of Cards In Piano Lessons

Cards

If you have a deck of cards, you can put them to good use in your piano studio!

  1. Quick Finger Number Review:                                        Preselect cards numbered 2-5. Have your student pick a card and wiggle the finger that matches the number on the card.
  2. Tricky Practice: Preselect cards numbered 4-9. Have your student pick a card and play a tricky passage the number of times specified on the card.
  3. Note Value Check Up: Preselect cards numbered 2-4. Have your student pick a card and draw or name the kind of note that gets that many counts.
  4. Rest Up: Preselect cards numbered 2-4. Have your student pick a card and draw or name the kind of rest that gets that many counts.
  5. Name That Interval: Preselect all the numbered cards. The student draws a card and quickly plays the interval indicated. If the student draws a 9 or 10 they get to be the teacher and have the teacher play the interval.
  6. Connect The Musical Dots: Have student pick a card and relate it to at least 3 music / piano concepts
  7. Interval Eye Exam: Lay out flashcards that show intervals on the staff. Have students match the cards from the deck to the correct interval. This is a great activity for students who are waiting. To make it more interesting use a timer to see how fast they can complete it. They can then try to beat their fastest time.
  8. Scale Degree Review: Preselect cards numbered 2-8. Choose a particular key to work in. Have student pick a card and play the note that corresponds to the scale degree shown on the card. 
  9. Big Scale Degree Review: Preselect cards numbered 8-10. Choose a particular key to work in. Have student pick a card and play the note that corresponds to the scale degree shown on the card. Gives the opportunity to teach that 8=1, 9=2, 10=3
  10. Key Signature Review: Preselect cards numbered 2-7. Have student pick a card and tell you what key has that many sharps/flats

Another Valentine’s Day Themed Music Activity!

Conductor's BouquetThis Valentine’s Day Themed Conductors Bouquet is going to be used in 3 ways in my studio next week:

– To teach kids which hand plays treble clef notes and which plays bass clef notes

– To teach kids how to feel different time signatures by conducting with the wands

– As a decoration to brighten up the studio so I can see kids’ faces light up as they enter for their lessons

When students arrive for lessons, I will be playing Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Annie Lennox and Al Green’s “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”. The Student will take a wand from the bouquet and using the correct hand for the symbol on the heart join me in conducting the song. We will extend the activity by conducting some of the pieces that they are working on as well. At the end of their lesson they will get to take the wand home to keep!

Here’s what you need in order to do this activity:

1. Valentine’s Wands from Dollar Tree (They come in packs of 3)

2. A sharpie marker to draw bass clef and treble clef symbols on the hearts

3. A nice vase to keep them in

4. Songs of different time signatures

That’s it!

Before we go I have a question: What other Valentine Themed songs can you suggest with different time signatures that can be used in this lesson? Please let me know in a comment below!