4 Ways To Turn This Puzzle Into A Piano Teaching Tool

unnamed-21

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!

 

2 New App Finds!

staffwars

 

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!

Another promising app I found is –

qastronotesThis 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:

Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music

Great Apps

Sight Read Minor Giveaway!

sight read minor

If you’ve been reading Kids and Keys this week, you already know about the Hanon Plus Giveaway and the Sight Read Plus Giveaway. Well, guess what? We have another one! Today’s giveaway contest is for the Sight Read Minor App. It works in much the same way as the Sight Read Plus app, but for minor keys. So, if you want to get in on this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me how you use apps during your lesson time. For example, I’d like to know if you use apps to begin a lesson, end a lesson, or if you use them for at home assignments or as rewards.

The deadline to enter is Sunday, Oct. 5th, 2014 at midnight.

Alrighty, on your mark, get ready, get set…GO!

app contest

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

DIY Music Theory Manipulatives!

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!

Giant Music Mat

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

Directions:

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?

Pinterest Idea Of The Week: Quarter Rest