Friday, August 8, 2014

DIY Piano Pencil Bag Tutorial

My daughter and I are prepping for Music Camp next week.  She helped me make these easy pouches for our campers to store their take home games and activities.

 I love how simple and inexpensive this was to make. It could also be a great addition to students piano binders where they can store flashcards, take home games, or maybe even serve as an erasable white board.
What you need:
Zippered Pencil Pouch
Electrical Tape
3x5 card
Because the actual size of the window of my pouch was about the size of an octave on my piano, I just used the cardboard insert to "make a pattern" for my keys, instead of actually measuring.  I placed the cardstock over my piano keys and made small snips with scissors in between each key. Then I centered the "pattern" in the pouch and lined up the 3x5 card along the "snips" to draw straight lines across the window.   I love how forgiving the electrical tape is, but I thought some of the fun colors and patterns of duct tape could also make a fun variation for the piano keys.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Part 6: Teaching Rhythm Through Song

4 Creative Ways to Improve Rhythm Through Song
1.  Add lyrics to sing to wordless songs or tricky rhythm passages
Caterpillars & Spiders= Rhythmic Success!
Recently my son was learning struggling to accurately play the eighth note rhythms in "Theme and Variation" (Piano Adventures Performance Book 2A).  I sung some impromptu lyrics to help fix the problem.
In contrast to the steady quarter note theme ("A spi-der bit my nose----- off")
the variation changes to eighth notes ("A cat-er-pill-ar bit my nose----- off")
Singing lyrics that matched the rhythm fixed the problem immediately and the quirky lyrics made the rhythm unforgettable. "A caterpillar bit my nose off, than a caterpillar bit my toe.  I think I want to make some caterpillar stew.  Would you like some stew too?"
Although I also teach numeric counting as well (4, 1+,2+,3 4, 1-2), for many students adding lyrics to match the rhythms is much more effective.   Suzuki style "Pepperoni Pizza" scales, Piano Safari "Zechariah Zebra" Technique Songs and the Piano Adventures 2A "Famous People" piece that pair rhythm with familiar words are powerful tools to aid in rhythm development.

2.  Encourage rhythm compositions introducing the sounds of rhythms before they encounter them in their music.
Layton Music Candy Bar Rhythms - Challenge students to compose a Candy Bar Melody using all of the candy bar rhythm cards.  The lyrics for me would be something like this "My favorite candy is not Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch or Reeses Peanut Butter.  Twix and Milky Way both taste great, but I like Snickers best!" I'll have to admit that my less creative compositional mind keeps on reverting to the tune of the "Old Gray Mare."

Or you could try a variation to match the interests of your students
Animals: Bear(quarter), Lion (2 eighths), Alligator (4 sixteenths)
Bugs: Bug(quarter), Bee-tle (2 eighths), Cat-er-pill-ar (4 sixteenths) (Let's Play Music)
Pies: Mince (quarter), Ap-ple (2 eighths), Hu-ckle-ber-ry (4 sixteenths), Rasp-ber-ry
Candy Bars: Twix(quarter), Snick-ers (2 eighths), Butter-finger (4 sixteenths) Layton Candy Bar Rhythm Cards

3.  Teach Rhythm Names through song.
Songs can also serve as a mnemonic device to help students remember the names of notes and rests.
Note Names - Piano Adventures Primer "Quarter Note"  It's got a head and a stem and its all colored in.
Rests - Music Give it a Rest  

4. Spice up (Boring) Scales by Singing and Playing Rhythm Variations
Instead of playing a 1 8va ascending scale with quarter notes, challenge students to play a "Twix, Snickers, Butterfinger, Twix"  or "Caterpillar, Bug, Beetle, Bug"variation.  The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

Related Posts:
Post 1: Teaching Basic Keyboard Concepts Through Song
Post 2: Teaching Technique Through Song
Post 3: Chord Progressions and Transposition
Post 4:  Ear Training Through Song
Post 5: Theory and Tempo

Monday, June 30, 2014

Piano Lab Online Activities Level 6 (Gold) Draft

Piano Adventures 4 Listening Room (Maple Leaf, In the Hall of the Mountain King, Chanson, Wild Flowers, Prelude in C)
Piano Adventures 4 Playlist
88 Piano Keys Get Inspired Episodes
Leger Line Notes Review
 Tonic Tutor Note Bird
 Tonic Tutor Lasers
Chord Inversions
Legato Thirds
Motive and Sequence
2 octave scales
Relative Minor 
 MLC It's All Relative

Alberti Bass
Dominant 7th Chords
 Teoria Seventh Chords
2 octave arpeggios
Voicing the Melody
Harmonization with chords
Identify Major Key Signatures
  Tonic Tutor Boxing Glove
  Teoria Key Signature Identification
Write Major key Signatures
  Teoria Key Signature Construction
Interval Ear Training
  Music Teacher Games Intervals 1 M
  Music Teacher Games Intervals 2 M+m
  Chromatic Scales
  Carnival of the Animals Lion Roar

Building Major and Minor Triad on Staff 
  Teoria Major Triad Construction (Major - Root Position)
  Teoria Minor Triad Construction (Minor - Root Position)
Minor Intervals
  Pianoanne minor intervals video

  Teoria Major/minor 2nds
  Teoria Major/minor 3rds
  Teoria Major/minor 6ths
  Teoria Major/minor 7ths
  Teoria Interval Construction (Mm 2,3,6,7, P4P5)
  Review Major Intervals
Dotted Eighth to Sixteenth Pattern
  Phil Tulga Rhythm Counter Shoo Fly
Rhythmic Dictation with Sixteenths
  Tonic Tutor Jelly Bean
Melodic Dictation
  Tonic Tutor Robot
Baroque Style
Classical Style
Romantic Style
Contemporary Style
Forms: Binary  Rounded BinaryTernary
Texture: Polyphonic Homophonic Monophonic
Counterpoint (contrapuntal)
Ornaments: Trill Mordent Turn

Minuet and Trio

Circle of Fifths
Cadences (Authentic, Full, Half)
Terms and Signs - Trill, Mordent, Turn, Wedge (Staccatissimo), Counterpoint (contrapuntal), Rolled Chords  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Part 5 Theory and Tempo - The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons

Singing is a fabulous mnemonic device.  I've made up songs to help my kids memorize scriptures,  multiplication tables, the scout law and spelling words.  And sometimes I even have to sing the joy school song I learned as a child to help them remember the family rules... "We never step on furniture (repeated), when we're in the Neal House.  This is a rule in the Neal House (repeated), that helps us all to be happy."  So when my students were forgetting the meaning of the time signature or tempo terms, I created some lyrics to help.

Time Signature: Time Signature Song Lyrics
Tonic/Dominant: FaberTonic up to dominant and leading tone to C
Decrescendo/Crescendo  Music 
Chord Inversions: Let's Play Music Orange Roots Demo Video Tempo
Adagio/Allegro:"Adagio Play Slow" Song  or "When you run your LEGs move quickly aLEGgro means fast."
Presto/Largo: Music

What songs have you used to teach theory?

Related Posts:
Post 1: Teaching Basic Keyboard Concepts Through Song
Post 2: Teaching Technique Through Song
Post 3: Chord Progressions and Transposition
Post 4: Ear Training Through Song

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Part 4 Ear Training: The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons

Ear Training
 Unfortunately, ear training is one aspect of music lessons that is often neglectedSince I started using Music Progressions as the framework for my curriculum, I've introduced ear training concepts much early then I was taught them.  Following are a few ideas of how to use singing to solidify early ear training concepts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Inspiration from a Student

Sometimes life reminds you in hard ways that there are things much more important than piano.  I recently had one of those reminders.  One of my former piano students was in a major car accident about a week ago.  Morgan is a vivacious, optimistic, faith filled girl whom I had also trusted as the babysitter of our children. I was impressed that she wanted lessons badly enough as a teenager, she was willing to earn half of the money to pay for them.  She always showed up with a smile.  
A few weeks ago as she was commuting from her college town to home, she apparently fell asleep at the wheel, drifted off the highway, rolled the car a couple of times and was ejected from the vehicle and sustained multiple injuries. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Part 3 Chord Progressions and Transposition

Practical Chord Progressions
Post 3
Practical Chord Progressions and Transposition
When introducing the Primary Chords, I pull out a few primer level books with traditional songs and ask my student to play accompanying chords while I play the melody and we both sing the song.  They can hear the application of learning chords right away and it is a lot more fun for them to play a duet than simply play chord progressions in different keys.   They can practice at home by singing the melody as they add chords to harmonize.  I have written in I, IV or V Chord symbols underneath the staff for the student.  Making Music Fun has a wealth of free printable sheet music ideals for this purpose. Another resource that I have