Visit www.ThePracticeShoppe.com to purchase Music Dice for this game!
Visit www.ThePracticeShoppe.com to purchase Music Dice for this game!
We are quickly approaching the time of year where students are under a LOT of pressure. From recitals, concerts, local performances, school activities, midterms and finals students have a ton of things that need their attention. A great way to lighten things up in piano lessons is to use fun apps that keep the learning going but without the pressure.
With this in mind, I did a search for music theory apps and found some very cool ones that were new to me. The first one is Staff Wars. This is a game that was originally available only on desktop. I used to use it all the time before we migrated to using the iPad. I was thrilled to learn that it is now available as an app in the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad!
Cool Things About Staff Wars:
It is an arcade style game. Kids drill music notation on either treble, alto, or bass clef without even realizing they are learning!
It has awesome sound effects
A student played it yesterday at the end of his lesson and scored very high on treble clef, so I challenged him to beat that score at his next lesson. As I wrote the challenge in his notebook he played the game again…AND BEAT MY CHALLENGE! Then it was time for his sister’s lesson. He usually leaves during her lesson, but this time he stayed and continued to play the game until he even beat the challenge I gave him to replace the previous challenge that he beat!!!
If you want a game that motivates students – especially boys – hurry over to the iTunes app store and pay just $0.99 for Staff Wars!
This app is also presented in arcade style. The learning here is all about note values and their relation to each other. Whole notes appear huge and must be destroyed. The catch is that the whole notes break up into half notes and the half notes break up into quarter notes. You can get QAstronotes here.
Tried these apps already? Let me know in a comment how your students liked them.
Other posts you might want to read:
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.
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.
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.
If you have a deck of cards, you can put them to good use in your piano studio!
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!
Have the people in the room give critiques to help the student play better.
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.
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.
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
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.
Summer is a great time to play even more games in the music studio. If you teach piano during the summer, you know that the absence of a set daily routine such as the one kids have during the school year makes it a little more difficult for them to focus during lessons. That doesn’t mean that the music learning has to suffer! This Rhythm Toss game is perfect to get them up and moving in the name of music!
A toss set (I purchased mine from Oriental Trading Company. You can also find these at Party stores)
Numbers that can be taped to the toss set to represent beats. (1,2,3,4)
Candy or other trinket for prizes.
Cutout notes: Quarter notes, whole notes, half notes, quarter rests
Have the student toss a bean bag into one of the holes. If they make it into the hole, they must “pay” for the prize inside the hole using the appropriate notes or rests to match the number of beats indicated. Students may use any combination of notes as long as it equals the desired number of beats.