I've found that sometimes the minor scale patterns can be a bit overwhelming for students to remember. I created this visual to help students see and hear the distinctions between the three types of minor scales.
I always think of a natural minor scale as a bit sad or melancholy and was surprised to hear one of students announce that he loves playing songs in minor keys.
The #'d 7th tone adds a creepy sounding appeal and of course makes the V7-i progressions sound so much more resolved, which is probably why the majority of minor pieces use the harmonic scale form.
I think of the melodic minor as kind of a "wanna be" major. As the scale ascends, it starts with that distinctive minor flatted 3rd, but then the #6th and #7th tones almost trick you into thinking its a major scale.... until it returns to the natural minor form as it descends.
Thanks to google and a recent homeschool science experiment on solutions, I rediscovered the fascinating world of Ted-ED videos once again as my girls were intrigued by a funny analogy comparing oil molecules to women with large ball gowns who just don't fit in well with the water square dancers, so they clump together in their own corner. The benefits of music on the brain hopefully will provide them a little more incentive to practice and the "Brain on Improv" video inspires me to be sure to include more creative assignments studio.
The Ted-ED questions led us to explore a variety of subjects including some of these other music related ideas.
It's a treat to pull the seasonal games and music and rediscover a few I've forgotten. I organized this list of free Halloween themed music and activities posted by creative bloggers that I've enjoyed using in my studio the past several years. MUSIC Susan Paradis Pre-Reading Pieces & Primer Staff Songs
Free printable songs have a small range of notes perfect for beginners or for sightreading practice.
Making Music Fun Toccata Theme
My students love this simplified version of this familiar Bach piece that is often associated with Halloween even though more difficult rhythms require some rote teaching for some.
GAMES Layton Music Trick or Treat Rhythm Pumpkin Patterns
My daughter begs to play this rhythm activity all year long even though it is simply rhythm clapping practice paired with some treats. One year I posted a pumpkin rhythm card to the front door that students had to knock before entering for their lesson.
Piano Escapades Halloween Improv Game
This clever games wraps several concepts together into a quick game that is great to use as a lesson starter. Students practice melodic improv on the c minor scale while reviewing rhythm patterns and some notereading as well.
To help my family better "ponderize"this scripture in 1 Timothy, I tried to pair the words to the tune of a familiar hymn. The theme of our church President, Thomas S. Monson's message this week was "Be an Example and a Light." Music definitely expedites memorization, and I love how scriptures that are put to song come back into my mind during mundane activities like driving, washing dishes or folding laundry to uplift my thoughts and spirit.
Finding a matching meter that emphasized the important words was challenging but I chose the opening verse of "Did You Think to Pray."
So instead of singing... We sing this...
Ere you left your room this morning Let no man despise thy youth, but
Did you think to pray? Be thou an example of the believers (quickly)
In the name of Christ our Saviour In word, in conversation
Did you sue for loving favour? In charity in spirit
As a shield today. In faith, in purity
As a shield today. 4:12 First Timothy
(lyrics by Mary A. Pepper Kidder)
I designed the pocket size image above so they can refer to their cards at school and "ponderize" throughout the day.,
Another fun piano resource that uses this similar method of adding lyrics to familiar tunes is "A Night at the Symphony" by Carol Matz. If you take a peek inside on amazon.com, you can read the clever lyrics paired with familiar classical pieces that introduce students to different elements of music history. Some of the selections are appealing melodies that I first learned while playing in middle school orchestra including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Surprise Symphony, Spring and the theme from 1812 Overture.
This is one of the newest additions to my studio that I found at the local thrift store. Students earn quarters at their lessons by coming prepared to pass off 3 songs or keyboard skill levels . It has been a great motivation for all but the one "jellybean hater" in my studio. The biggest challenge is keeping the machine stocked!
The piano quest theme for the next few months in my studio is knowledge. We celebrated with a "Piano Cranium" group lesson party!
To open up our recent piano cranium themed group lesson, students were given a headband with a flashcard of a music theory term or sign inserted. They also asked yes or no questions to try and figure out the term or sign on their headband. I loved using the headbands rather than just a nametag on their back, because they could easily see each other's cards, and even beginner students who weren't familiar with all of the meanings of the terms could peek at the answers on the back of their opponents card so they could still fully participate.
Next we played a round of musical jenga. I recently found this mini set at the Dollar Tree and thought it might make a perfect Christmas gift for my students, although writing on all of those blocks might take a while!
Then we played a lively game of piano cranium. I used two sets of cards specific to the beginner and intermediate students. The sculpting and acting cards were definitely the favorites.
Next we broke out into groups so beginners could review steps and skips while more experienced students played a few games of D'net Layton's composer old maid. We ended with our typical "mini-recital" where students each performed a piece they learned during the past month. I love how those "boring" theory concepts become so much more engaging when coupled with a competitive group game.
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.