In planning for our studio group class next week I was doing some online searching for flashcards. It’s been a while since I visited Jen Fink’s fabulous Pianimation website, so I was thrilled to re-discover this page chock-full of free piano flashcards that you can print and use in your studio! I’m going to be printing off a handful of these to use for various games and activities.
One of the biggest challenges I face repeatedly with my students is a lack of instantaneous note recognition on the staff and correlation with the right key on the piano. Does anyone else struggle with this? I’m going to try to hone in on this deficiency at the next group class to see if we can make some substantial progress in this area. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions or resources that you’ve found helpful to build this skill in your students, please do let me know!
I know I’m a few days after the official beginning of fall, but I’m sure enjoying the gorgeous days! So, in honor of another fall of teaching, I’m offering a special sale in the Music Matters Blog store. You can get $5 off any order by entering the following coupon code when you checkout: 05355663
By far, the favorite item in the store is 5 for Fun! Games and Activities for the Private Piano Lesson. These are tried and true games that we have used for years in the studio. Last year, my students loved perusing this book and selecting games they wanted to play as part of the e.p.i.c. practice incentive. But I also find myself referring to the book to pick out specific games to help reinforce a concept I’m working on with a student.
The coupon will be good until next Friday, October 10, so have fun picking out any item you’d like! Hope you all are enjoying a lovely fall of teaching!
Summer is just around the corner, and most teachers are starting to plan ahead for summer piano camps and theme ideas for next fall (except for the over-achieving ones who already have it all figured out… :-))! In light of this, I’ve decided to offer a special $5 off discount for anything in the Music Matters Blog store.
Whether you’re looking for piano camp plans, fun music games to change things up a bit, or a fully developed practice incentive theme to launch in your studio, you’ll find a variety of tried-and-true possibilities in our store. And if you have a website or blog with ideas or materials for summer, feel free to share a link in the comments section!
Just enter this discount code when you checkout to receive your $5 off: 101W2RP0
The final e.p.i.c. Encounter (a.k.a. group class) of our e.p.i.c. practice incentive theme was last week, and our topic for the evening was intervals.
We started the class with an overview of what an interval is, then each of the students received a set of these interval worksheets to fill out and keep for their reference.
This was a helpful visual tool that launched us into an evening of fun interval activities and challenges. The hit game of the night was the “Flashcard Drop.” This ingenious idea (compliments of my creative husband!) involved us dropping note flashcards (we used this wonderful set from TCW Resources) through the slats in our deck to the patio below where the students were gathered in teams of two. As they collected cards, the objective was to identify the interval between any two notes, then run the pair of flashcards up to us on the deck and correctly identify the interval. Every correct answer earned the team a point. Whichever team accumulated 10 points first was the winner! This proved to be a bit of a challenge for the students, but a ton of fun!
We also enjoyed playing The Mystery Note game and the Spelling Challenge from the 5 for Fun! book of music games and activities. I just modified them so that the students could continue working in pairs as we played each game. These Wipe Off: Keyboards and Staffs by Bastien are a wonderful resource for group class games and activities!
Those are the words exclaimed by Luke (and most of my students!) this week as we pulled out the life-sized grand staff and bean bags and played a variety of note and interval games. They’re already begging to play some more next week!
The New Year is off to a great start, and we’re having fun playing a variety of quick 5-minute games in the studio! Here are a couple of recent pictures:
Ellie has a blast playing this simple note direction game by moving her magnetic “note” up or down depending on what she rolls on the up and down die. As she moves, she says “up a step to D”, “down a step to C”, etc. Once setting a designated “finish line”, she and I take turns rolling and moving our notes to see who can get there first!
After learning about the difference between Major and minor chords, Kaily draws a scale block to determine the chord root, then rolls the Major-minor die to see what type of chord she is supposed to build and play on the piano keys.
Shaylah is one of several students who loved playing this musical memory game where each player takes a turn flipping two cards to try to form matches between specified keys in a pictured piano keyboard and notes on a staff. This is a perfect game for siblings or back-to-back students to play together as well!
There are lots more game ideas in our studio favorite 5 For Fun! book! My students love flipping through it and selecting their own game when they’ve earned that privilege in this year’s practice incentive!
I appreciated this list of ideas from the latest Making Music Fun! eNewsletter:
Entry Kentry – A Musical Passing Game
Jump the Hoop – A Steady Beat Game
Touchdown – Steady Beat/Math Fact Game
The Wee Little Scare – Steady Beat Game
In doing some blog browsing recently, I came across this fabulous list of piano game resources on Heidi’s Blog! Heidi has organized links to game ideas and materials around the blogosphere according to specific categories: Music Alphabet/Piano Key Names, Note Reading, Musical Terms/Symbols, Rhythm, Whole/Half Step, Accidentals, Enharmonics, Intervals, Ear Training, Stem Placement, Chords, Scales, Key Signatures, Music History, Composition/Improv, and Multi-Concept. I love having resources like this at my fingertips so I can find just the right activity when a student needs to be introduced to a concept or have it reinforced through a fun music game.
There’s also a wealth of resources organized by categories in the Community section of Music Matters Blog, too!
Theta Music, one of the best sites for on-line music theory games is commencing their 3rd Annual Ear Training and Music Theory Competition today! This is a great way for teachers and students to have some fun while building their skills. It’s a one-day competition, so sign up and start playing now for your chance to win up to a $30 Amazon gift certificate!
I am a student teacher and would like some tips on teaching technique via games. I have a 7-year-old student who is struggling with “keeping fingertips tall” and “keeping a rounded hand shape”. I find technique drills are not working and I hate to make technique seem like the enemy. Do you have any games that you have used to re-enforce the concept in a fun way?
As much as I love to use games as a teaching tool, I confess that I’ve hardly ever used them for technique purposes. Instead, I use more of an understanding-based approach when working with students on technique principles. From early on, I explain scientific principles of gravity, strength, and conduction to students to help them understand why they should keep their wrists up, fingers rounded, shoulders relaxed, etc. You can read a post I wrote on Finger Strengthening here.
I also still use my goofy thumb position image poster to show students how to play with their thumb in the “slide position.” The Beyond Scales and Hanon sessions I’ve attended by Beth Grace have also been invaluable in helping me understand proper and injury-preventative piano technique so that I can model it for my students and direct them accordingly no matter what repertoire they are playing.
Most of my 5 for Fun! games and activities for the private piano lesson are theory-based rather than technique-based, so I would love to hear from other teachers on this topic. Do you use any games that have proven particularly effective in helping students learn and implement good piano technique?
Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!