Even though I don’t have a super good ear when it comes to music, I do know that quite a few years of being in choirs and taking voice lessons has helped develop a better ear than I would have had otherwise. I’m always interested in incorporating singing elements into our lessons, but sometimes it’s difficult to know the best approach. When I came across a couple of fun Children’s Ear Training Songs on the Easy Ear Training website, I knew I had to give them a try!
I decided to start with the Froggy Interval Hop. I love trying to incorporate as many different learning styles as possible into each activity, so I dusted off my large foam board keyboard that I made years ago and pulled a little stuffed monkey from my collection of mini stuffed animals. I didn’t have a frog, so the activity became Monkey Interval Hop for us! I also found a cute little monkey graphic on-line and printed off an octave’s worth of little monkey cards. After putting a little bit of sticky tack on the back of each monkey card, we were ready to go!
I sat at the piano and played the song while singing along and placing the monkey cards on the corresponding number of notes to represent the interval. My little student got to hold the stuffed monkey and sing along while hopping on the first and last monkey to represent the interval we were singing. For example, when we sang, “Hop, hop, hop, hop, three little monkeys hop,” she hopped like this: C-E-C-E-C-E-C-E.
We’ve only done it a couple weeks so far, but there are a ton of possibilities for using this simple, but creative song to help young students train their ears. Here are a few that I’ve thought of:
- Include intervals all the way up to an octave.
- Instead of always going in order, place the monkey cards on random notes to have the student develop an even better awareness of the different intervals.
- Transpose to other major keys to develop familiarity with different scales.
- Try using minor keys to develop tonal awareness.
- The teacher plays and sings the first interval and the student tries to correctly identify it by placing the monkey card on the correct piano keys.
- Use all sorts of different animals just for fun!
In addition to using this during private lessons, I think it would be a really great activity for a small group of young students – perhaps a perfect addition to a pre-piano camp! 🙂 Those are a few of my ideas thus far. Can you think of other creative ways to use this activity to help students develop a well-trained ear?