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!

Introducing The Quarter Rest

Rests on printed scores are often ignored – especially by beginning piano students. I have my own ideas about the reasons why. At the top of this list is the fact that in today’s fast paced society silence is so rare that it has become a foreign concept to many. For others it is something to be feared and avoided at all costs! Musicians, however, know the value of a well placed rest. The well placed rest can convey a range of emotions and create magical moments in the music.

Here’s a quick way I introduced the quarter rest with my beginners last week.

Starting from a familiar place – quarter notes drawn on foam flash cards. (You can purchase foam paper at the dollar store or a local craft store.) The student can play or stomp the rhythm. Younger kids may even like to do the Dinosaur Stomp!

Here comes the quarter rest silencing the last beat!

What happens to the sound if the quarter rest moves to a different spot?

Finally, what happens if we get rid of the quarter rest?

App of the Week: Beat Sneak Bandit

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!!!

Rhythm Toss Game

 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!

What You Need:

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

To play the game:

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.


Kudos To School Music Teachers!

Thankfully a lot of my piano students go to schools where they have a music class. I am always so impressed when a student arrives to their piano lesson and tells me about a concept they learned in music class at school. These teachers really make my job a lot easier. So, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week I’m dedicating this post to my students’ school music teachers. The kids and I spelled out their names rhythmically.  Kudos and thanks for all you do, school music teachers. You’re Awesome!!!


Knock Knock Who’s There?

Knock Knock Who’s There?

Recently I introduced a game I call “Knock Knock Who’s There?” in my music studio. When students arrive they see a secret rhythm code posted. To get into the studio they must correctly knock that rhythm. They also earn a gold coin (purchased from Party City) upon entry. Gold coins add up and the student with the most gold coins at the end of the semester gets an award. Oh and if a student doesn’t get the rhythm then I get to do what I do best – teach them how!
I have lots of different rhythm card sets, but with all the focus on candy last month I used the candy rhythm set from D’Net Layton’s site which you can get here.
Knock Knock Who’s There is a great way to begin the lesson by getting them thinking musically from the start. Parents are also getting in on the game. My students and I sometimes catch them standing outside trying to guess the rhythm when they come for pick up. We all get a kick out of it. A great way to end the lesson as well!