Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Piano Game Card Organization

Can you tell I love to play games with my piano students?

You've probably seen my Game Resource List that lists links to most of my favorite piano games organized by concept and level, but unfortunately my piano cabinet is not compartmentalized so nice and neat. My old method of organizing games  (pictured below) worked for a while, but as my collection grew, the space was insufficient and I didn't use them as often as I would like because they were tucked away out of sight.
So I was excited to recycled this vinyl pocket organize that my mom used when I was a child to post our daily chores on 3x5 cards.  She cut strips of tablecloth vinyl and sewed then onto a large piece of vinyl to form pockets. I've been coveting  hoping she'd want to give it up for a while.  When she took it down last month to redecorate her utility room where it has hung for years, I was pretty thrilled to inherit it.

After shuffling the cards around a few times I added labels on the side grouping the games in related rows with the easiest games on the left.  Concepts include Rhythm Values, Rhythm Patterns, Misc Rhythm Concepts (Time Sig/Tapping), Music ABCs + Piano Keys, Staff Notes, Terms & Signs, Intervals & Scale Patterns, Multi-Concept & Intermediate.
Group Lesson Game Cards/Rhythm Strips
Garage Sale Find That Housed My Game Cards Until the Hanger Broke :(
Now my plastic tub holds the group oriented games that are used at monthly group lessons and larger rhythm cards.  I love having the game cards I use most often easy to see and find at glance.
Piano Game Boards
These handy file folders hold the larger game boards with similar tab labels as the vinyl pocket card holder. 

Related Posts:
Organizing Piano Books
Clever Music Book Storage Idea 
Piano Lab Structure
Organizing My Teaching Tools: Piano Teaching Binders

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Technique Pattern Bingo

To top off our quest for creative composition last month we ended the month with a some fun group lesson games.  After completing the opening scale pattern coloring page and playing a fun game of Mystery Food Improv,  I came up with a technique pattern bingo game to solidify students recognition of the names and patterns in their keyboard skills exercises.  It is a quick game that could also be used as a fun lesson starter during private lessons.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

T.E.A.M. - Collaborative Piano Fun

Our piano quest for virtues this month focuses on cooperation.  The lab setup of my studio makes the perfect setting for students to work together on duets as students come in pairs to lessons.  Fortunately most are sibling pairs who can extend their duet practice time at home to prepare for their upcoming group lesson duet performances.

I love this creative duet by a sibling pair.

I appreciate the synergy that group piano activities provide and love how teamwork can enhance learning.  I typically start each lesson with a fun game or activity.  Sometimes I have to adapt it to meet the varied levels of students.  For example,

Thursday, July 30, 2015

3 Steps to More Effective Technique Practice

    After reading over Julie Knerr's informative dissertation on teaching beginning technique I've been contemplating ideas to ramp up the success of technical drills in my studio.  I follow the curriculum sequence of Music Progressions and start by introducing 5 finger patterns (by rote with picture scales) to beginners

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Composing with Flour and Salt

Would you rather eat a spoonful of flour or a spoonful of cake?  The answer is obvious, and yet the cake wouldn't be the same without the flour.  Keyboard skills (scales, arpeggios, chords, etc.) are somewhat like flour in piano study and although some students find them quite unpalatable or boring, when you mix several of the building blocks together, you end up with some fun and appealing results. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Teaching Piano Technique Motions Creatively: Caterpillar Crawl

I'm fortunate to have a houseful of children that I can try out my new piano teaching ideas on.  Although that can pose a challenge at times when I'm trying to provide motivation for 5 kids to  practice regularly or keep a quiet professional lesson environment, I love "playing" piano games with my children. I created this musical movement activity to practice wrist movements with my preschooler.
I started by telling a silly story about a caterpillar doing his workout activities at the gym to introduce her to flexible wrist motions necessary for piano playing.  We listened to Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca and simultaneously discovered some elements of the form of the music as each section repeats.
I came up with these lyrics to sing and made a musical map of pictures as a reminder of the motions for each melodic theme.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Finger Trampoline

I recently was inspired by a post  by Andrea and Trevor Dow on "Teach Piano Today" about making this simple "amazing fingercise cup" to help improve finger strength.  I promptly constructed one with the tools I had on hand, and my curious kids were anxious to get there hands on this new "toy."  They love the sound and were intrigued by the different pitch of the sounds of varying sized cups. My mind started spinning with additional uses. At our last group lesson we changed "Don't Clap This One Back" to "Don't Pluck this one Back."

Don't "pluck this one back
My first attempt several years ago with a young beginner trying "Cookie Dough" (a finger # practice song from My First Piano Adventures) began with an awkward finger depressed into a ziplocked ball of cookie dough.