Tuesday evening, we held our fifth Private Eye Workshop of the year. Our theme for this one was Folk Songs from Around the World. Here are some picture highlights from the event:
In keeping with our Key Signature theme for the month, we started out with a game. One at a time, I had each student volunteer to be timed as they lined up the key signature flashcards in order from 0 sharps to 7 sharps, then arrange the corresponding key names below each card. I timed each student as they took their turn and kept track on a white board. The observing students watched with rapt attention as they awaited their turn. They all wanted to beat the fastest time! This was an easy concept even for the youngest students who don’t fully understand key signatures, because they just had to go by the number of sharps and then count the key names by fifths to know the correct order.
After the opening game, we began the performances. Each student shared a bit of information about the country upon which their piece was based. Here, Addi is dressed the part as well!
In addition to sharing about their country, each student also placed a magnet on our map of the world in their country so that we could get a picture of where we were “traveling” for the performance.
After the performances, we concluded the evening with a loud, fun key signature game. I divided the students into two teams, using their scores from earlier as a guide to determine who to place on each team. Then, on the team, I had them line up from the slowest time to the fastest time. You can’t see it in this picture, but there is a piano bench between the two teams. On the bench, I placed a little service bell. One member of each team would stand at the bench and face-off. I held up a key signature flashcard and whoever dinged the bell first got a chance to name the key. If correct, they earned one point. If incorrect, the other team was given a chance to confer and then submit an answer. The team that reached twenty points first won!
Everyone really got into the key signature games, and I’m confident that they know their key signatures much better now than they did one week ago. Still room for lots of reinforcement, though. (We didn’t even get to the flat key signatures!) Hope this gives you some fun ideas that you can use with your students!
As I mentioned Friday, I’m doing a “Simon Says” game this week to reinforce our key signature theme of the month. I wasn’t quite sure how to adapt the idea to a private lesson, but after a bit of brainstorming, this is what I came up with.
I have the student spread out two sets of flashcards on the fallboard – one containing each of the key signatures on the staff, the other listing the name of each Major/minor key (I made a set for the sharp keys and a set for the flat keys, and we just use one set at a time). The student gets the whacker and I call out, “Simon Says…” and then either give the name of a key or say a specific number of sharps/flats. If I say, “Simon Says…key of D Major,” the student has to whack the corresponding key signature on the staff. If I say, “Simon Says…2 sharps,” the student has to whack the card that says D Major/b minor.
So far this is working really well and is helping the students think through the process of figuring out which key is which and how many sharps/flats it has. Plus, I also let them refer to the other cards in front of them if they want to. And of course, almost any game that involves the whacker is a winner! 🙂
Steve, over at Music Ed Lounge, is the one who first suggested a theme of key signatures for this month (thanks, Steve!). Next week, I’m planning to use his Fresh and Fun! idea of “Simon Says” with my students.
If you have a Fresh and Fun! idea you’d like to contribute for focusing on Key Signatures, just leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail.
Since my students have been doing well with the Key Signature – Scale Matchup worksheets, I thought it might be helpful to use a similar format to help them understand the relationship between relative keys. In the Major-Minor Scale Matchup worksheet, students are supposed to draw a line connecting each scale in the left hand column with the corresponding scale in the right hand column (according to the same sharps or flats), and then identify the name of each scale. The connected scales indicate which scales/keys are relatives of each other. Just click on the image below to download the worksheets (one with the sharp scales, and one with the flat scales) to use with your students!
Here are a couple snapshots from my studio this week as my students worked on their Key Signature – Scale Matchup Worksheet.
I had them all do the Major Sharp worksheet in the studio under my supervision, and then gave them the Major Flat worksheet to do on their own and bring back completed next week.
Even my young students easily understood the concept of matching the scale with the key signature that had the corresponding sharps. Interestingly, the only student who had trouble with the worksheet is an older beginning piano student who is in a band program at school. His teacher had told him to identify the key by going up from the last sharp in the key signature. Since he didn’t understand that he should just go up a half step, he got several wrong. When I showed him that all he had to do was identify the name of the scale and then transfer that to the name of the key, he quickly identified the correct scale and key names.
I just keep drilling into my students the concept that the key signature indicates what scale a particular piece is built on. The goal is not just to memorize the key names (although I hope they do that, too!), I want them to really understand the theory behind them. We’ll see how it goes by the end of this emphasis! For next week, I’m planning to use the minor scale – key signature worksheets. Then, after that we’ll move onto a different Fresh and Fun! idea. Remember, if you have an idea for a short activity that can be done at the beginning of the lesson to reinforce the concept of key signatures, either leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail.
For the month of March, our theme is Know Your Signature – That’s the Key! My goal is to help students not only memorize their key signatures, but also understand the concept that key signatures indicate which scale forms the basis for a particular piece of music. In order to reinforce that concept, I’ve created these Key Signature-Scale Matchup Music Worksheets that I plan to go over with each student and have them complete at their lesson next week. (Actually, I’ll let them choose one to do at their lesson, and assign them the rest to do on their own and bring back to their lesson next week.) Feel free to download them for free and use them with your students as well!
There are four worksheets included in the set: Major-Sharp Keys, minor-sharp Keys, Major-Flat Keys, and minor-flat Keys.
If you have a Fresh and Fun! idea for the month of March that relates to helping students learn key signatures, please leave it in the comments below or e-mail it to me. Basically, a Fresh and Fun! idea should just be a simple activity requiring about 5 minutes that can be done at the beginning of a lesson to help reinforce the concept.