Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Note Free Software

For some free games you can download on your computer check out the Happy Note link on the right. My 2 favorites games are "Treble Clef and Bass Clef" (teaches letter names of notes on the staff) and Music Notes in space (teaches names of the notes - quarter, half, whole). My students love to play the "Breakout" game because it is fun, but they don't seem to learn as much from it.

Yarn Staff Games

Yarn Staff Game Instructions
I found the idea for this game several years ago on Martha Beth Lewis's piano site. she has so many great ideas for teaching piano to young beginners. To find a very detailed explanation of this game go to Martha Beth Lewis's piano site and read her article on teaching lines and spaces. It also includes many other fun activities to help your child learn to play the piano. Following is a brief version.
“Simon Says”
Concepts – distinguish between line & space notes/ high and low notes
· Make a staff on the floor with your five pieces of yarn (lines). Decide where you want the bottom (low end) of the staff to be. Pretend you are a note and play “Simon Says” using the following ideas. A space note fills the space. A line note has a line going through it.
o Be a line note (Put both feet on any line)
o Be a space note (Put both feet in any space)
o Be a high space note
o Be a low line note
o Be a middle line note
· Using your yarn staff play the same game as above but use other objects such as paper plates, cups, plastic easter eggs, balls etc. as the “notes”

"Twister"
Call out actions for students and see who can keep from falling as in the regular game of Twister. Students can compete against each other to see who can stay up the longest or play solo and see how many commands they can peform correctly before falling.
-Put your right hand on a high line note
-Put your left foot on a low space note
- Put your chin on a middle line note, etc.

M&M's Stepping on the staff

To help reinforce the concept of stepping up and down the staff try this fun game.
Materials: M&Ms, one grand staff for dimes card for every player. A die or spinner. Each player starts with an m&m (dime, skittle or other round candy)and places it on the bottom line of the bass clef. Players take turn rolling the die and moving their candies up the staff by steps (line, space, line, space, etc.). Whoever reaches the top line of Treble Staff first gets to eat their candy (or keep their dime). You could also practice stepping down by starting at the top of the staff and moving down by steps instead.

Wagon Wheels on the Staff

Today at preschool to introduce the grand staff we made art pictures and glued "wagon wheel" pasta on every line and space on the staff. Children often don't visualize the "spaces" on the staff and think of notes moving from one line to the next line. To help them remember to see the spaces we also had "races in the spaces" by imagining the spaces as lanes on a race track. We then scooted our wagon wheels along the spaces in the staff. For more reinforcement of lines and spaces on the staff check out the fun variations of the staff on Susan Paradis's website link on the right. Under her games tab you'll find the following free printables: Candy Corn Staff, Staff for Dimes, Peppermint Notes and Jewel Notes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Nutcracker" Samples for Kids

When children are exposed to a great variety of music, they tend to play the piano more expressivly. To listen to some samples of various dances from "The Nutcracker" click on the Starfall link and Check out Tchaikovsky's jukebox in the "It's fun to read" music section.

Treble/Bass Clef Musical "Spots"


Last week at preschool I introduced the treble & bass clefs with this fun game. The kids loved it and wanted to keep on playing it. First the students each stood on a colored felt "spot" on the floor. Then I set a picture of a bass clef or a treble clef next to each spot. As we listened to the "Queen Treble Clef, King Bass Clef" song the kids walked around from spot to spot. When I stopped the music at random times the students raced to "act out" which clef they were standing by. Bass Clefs crouched down low to the ground to represent the low sounds in the bass clef, while the treble clefs jumped up high to represent high notes. They also named their clefs using the correct voice - High pitched Treble Clef/Low pitched Bass Clef. The students took turns playing the high (treble) and low (bass) notes at the piano to match the words of the song.

Jingle Bells Finger # Review

Playing the piano becomes very motivating when kids learn to play familiar songs. I can still remember when I learned a song by Beethoven that I had listened to on one of my dad's records for years. It made me feel like I was a "real" pianist. For a fun way to review finger #'s, print out a simple of version of Jingle Bells at the Phonics 4 Piano website. This song is written just for the right hand. You can also try playing it on the "computer" piano by clicking on the "online fun" tab on their site.