A Fun Group Piano Class Rhythm Game

The last week of each month I hold a 1-hour group class in addition to the regular lessons for that week. This gives the students an opportunity to perform for each other, participate in ensembles, and play a variety of games to help reinforce musical concepts.

Since one of our primary focuses this year is on developing more proficient rhythm skills, my plan is to begin each group class with a fun rhythm game. This week we played, “Pass the Rhythm” – a variation on the old “telephone” game and adapted from the Rhythm Squeeze game on Teach Piano Today.

I split the students into two teams – boys v. girls in this case! They lined up front to back and the first and third player of each team was given a white board, marker, and eraser.

I began by tapping a 2-measure 4/4 rhythm pattern on the shoulder of the student at the back of each line. They had to notate the rhythm that they thought I tapped and then pass the board to the next player in line.

The next player looked at the rhythm pattern and then tapped it on the shoulder of the first person in line.

Finally, the one at the front of the line notated the rhythm pattern that they felt. After the rhythm was passed all the way to the front of the line, I had each team hold up their board and compare it with the rhythm I had written on my board for that round. Each team received one point for each correct beat. The students then switched places and we did the same thing for Round 2. We did several rounds and then tallied the points so that the team with the most points was the winner!

Everyone seemed to enjoy this engaging game, and it’s a great tool for determining where they are at in identifying and tapping rhythms!

September Surprise!

Despite my best intentions to continue teaching at least my own children this summer, we ended up with a studio-wide summer break. I have to admit, it’s nice to take some time off, gather new ideas, and get re-energized for another year of teaching. My favorite way to launch the new year of piano lessons is with a September Surprise! Students prepare any piece of their choice to surprise me, I plan a few games, and we officially launch the new studio practice incentive theme for the year.

Here are a few snapshots from our evening:

Look at all these beautiful faces eager for another year of piano lessons!

After a fun round of Music This or That (I highly recommend this active and insightful game that Wendy put together!) we moved right into the surprise performances.

One of the favorite performances of the evening was this creative improvisation by Levi.

After all the performances and an energetic drum circle, I introduced our Jungle Expedition practice incentive theme and let students select the wall figure of their choice to represent them on their expedition throughout the year as they travel from hut to hut.

The evening ended with a time of munching on goodies and visiting with one another. So excited to see how each of these students progress as individuals and musicians this year!

Special Introductory Offer on Carnival of the Animals Music Camp!

Carnival of the Animals Cover

For all of you who have been anxiously awaiting (probably me most of all!), I’m excited to announce that the Carnival of the Animals Classical Christian Music Camp curriculum package is finally complete and ready for delivery! This extensive curriculum has been in the works for many years at a conceptual level, so it’s been thrilling to watch it fully come together this week as we’ve given it a trial run in the studio. And from now through the end of July, you can get your downloadable package for only $20 (that’s $10 off the regular price of $30)!

I’m amazed at how much the students grasped as we incorporated history, geography, rhythm, technique, music vocabulary, composition, science, art, and performance into our camp activities each day. It will also be exciting to see how the seeds sown this week continue to bear fruit in the years to come as the students draw on the knowledge and understanding they’ve gained through this experience.

The curriculum is designed as a 5-day music camp curriculum, but could easily be adapted for almost any setting and schedule. It has enough material to last for weeks! Creative music teachers could even use it as a springboard to delve into many other areas of musical study more extensively. Read a full description and view sample pages on this page.

I hope that this Carnival of the Animals music camp curriculum will be a valuable resource to help teachers and students around the world experience the enjoyment and enrichment of learning more about God and the world in which we live through the study of music!

Check out photo highlights from each day of the camp:

Day One: http://musicmattersblog.com/2015/07/13/highlights-from-day-1-of-carnival-of-the-animals-music-camp/

Day Two: http://musicmattersblog.com/2015/07/14/highlights-from-day-2-of-the-carnival-of-the-animals-music-camp/

Day Three: http://musicmattersblog.com/2015/07/15/highlights-from-day-3-of-carnival-of-the-animals-music-camp/

Day Four: http://musicmattersblog.com/2015/07/18/highlights-from-day-4-of-carnival-of-the-animals-music-camp/

Day Five: http://musicmattersblog.com/2015/07/18/highlights-from-day-5-of-carnival-of-the-animals-music-camp/

Highlights from Day 5 of Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

Day 5 of our Carnival of the Animals music camp has arrived! We played the ever-popular Guess-It! game as a way of reviewing all that we’ve learned so far this week.

The Science of Sound today explores two remarkable instruments – the piano and the glass armonica.

Students use their music vocabulary knowledge to attempt to translate the meaning of Cristofori’s original name for his musical instrument invention: the gravicembalo col piano e forte.

Next everyone gets to take a turn trying to produce a tone similar to one on a glass armonica by rubbing their finger around the rim of a wine glass containing water.

Wrapping up a fun week for a crazy bunch!

Reviewing proper performance procedures before the parents arrive. These admittedly cheesy performance signs still seem to do the trick of helping students visualize and remember each aspect of their performance!

Let’s practice bowing!

The parents are here and we are ready to entertain them with our own original Carnival of the Animals! Each student has written a brief narration to introduce their composition (ala Ogden Nash) – love the clever creativity!

Levi plays The Shark

Elise plays Dancing Turtles

Daniel plays Spy Cheetah

Stephanie plays An Elephant’s Life

Claire plays Swan Lake

Highlights from Day 4 of Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

A fun review game of hangman to start off Day 4 of our Carnival of the Animals music camp!

Learning all about the Science of Sound and how the ear works.

For the math whizzes of the bunch – compute these 32nd notes!

Practicing technique concepts on each other!

Interval Intuition – Can they feel the right interval in their fingers even when they’re not looking?

Highlights from Day 3 of Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

Students get comfy as we start Day 3 of our Carnival of the Animals music camp.

Having fun with our string art projects!

Loving using my new iPad mini and iHome bluetooth speaker for listening to each work while we color the corresponding pages.

The students work on one of today’s technique challenges – wrist rotation.

A lovely collection of our completed string art projects!

Highlights from Day 2 of the Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

We began Day 2 of our Carnival of the Animals Music Camp by discussing our theme verse (Revelation 4:11) and reading a psalm of praise (Psalm 100).

Next up was a challenging activity to review yesterday’s vocabulary words. Students had to select the right definitions from a list of 15 possibilities!

Coloring while listening to each movement is still a favorite!

Levi shares his research on sharks and what rhythmic motive he plans to use for his shark composition!

Everyone’s string art projects are coming together very nicely!

A close-up of one of the string art projects – can you tell what it is yet?

Highlights from Day 1 of Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

Today was the first day of our much-anticipated Carnival of the Animals Music Camp, and we had a blast!

Snacks are ready! One bottle of water and a cup of Whales for each student.

Student Workbooks ready for the unleashing of each student’s creative juices!

String art supplies collected!

Laptop, Bible, and Bluetooth speaker ready and waiting!

And the students have arrived!

They enjoy coloring the corresponding picture while listening to each movement of the Carnival of the Animals!

String art projects are in progress…

It’s fun watching all of the personalities come through in each of our various activities. What a great start to the week!

Loads of Free Piano Flashcards!

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! :-)