Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Organizing My Teaching Tools: Piano Teaching Binders

After several years of finding a treasure trove of online piano teaching resources, I decided to compile my most often used on the bench teaching aids into a couple of binders with tabbed dividers w/ sheet protectors. It's so convenient to have my notenaming, sightreading & rhythm drills all in one place as students work to compete in the Piano Summer Olympics Events.

Notereading - Say & Play all notes on the page in less than one minute

Sightreading - Play as many measures in a row as you can with accurate notes and rhythm
  • Pre-Reading Sightreading Cards (Pianimation.com) I print multiple cards per page.
    • Partial staff cards to practice directional reading (step up, step down, repeat)
  • Sightreading Pages (Now sold as "flashcards" that you cut apart at Dianehidy.com)
    • Very gradually sequenced 2-4 measure examples starting with landmark notes on both staves, then notes within major and minor 5 finger patterns.
  • Sightreading Challenge Sets (Pianimation.com Teacher Resources)
    • Leveled sightreading challenges beginning with directional patterns, landmark notes on one staff.  They gradually increase in difficulty eventually including various key signatures, articulation and dynamic marks.


Ear Training



Friday, July 27, 2012

Fun animated elementary music videos


Treble Clef (Piano Discoveries)

The Cool Bass Clef

Quarter Note Song

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Piano Keyboard ABC's Fun Learning Video

I just came across this fun short video on Youtube to teach about white key letter names.  I love the clever animation!

Free Staff Notes Game Online - Staff Wars

If you haven't played Staff Wars - watch out! You might get addicted :) Over the past few days I've discovered how engaging (and addictive) this free downloadable game can be for kids.  Its a great addition to my piano lab. One element of my studio summer piano incentive "Music Olympics" is for students to track their scores on Staff Wars (from The Music Interactive-Classroom Apps ).  My son is determined to stay in the lead in this particular event and is willing to clean his room, do his chores and practice piano so he can try and advance past level 8.    I'm loving his motivation and improved note reading skills!
In this game the notes slide across the staff and as the student clicks on the correct letter name the note explodes.  After each set of 10 correct answers you advance a level and the notes (and background music) increase in speed.  You can select Treble, Bass or Alto Clef.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Piano Lab: Listening & Analysis Activities Hal Leonard Book 4

In addition to the online music games, music software and (rarely used) theory books in my piano lab, for late elementary students, I put together a list of analysis tasks specific to the music in their lesson books.
I begin analysis activities with my students very early by having them color various elements of their music (see this post "Hand Over the Pencil - Actively Engaging Music Students").
As they become more familiar with this process, I assign them analysis/ear training tasks to work on independently during Piano Lab Time to go along with the specific pieces in their lesson book. With this approach, the theory, ear training and analysis activities are more meaningful because they are directly relevant to the music they are currently learning to play.
I store the printout of these lesson book lab assignments in a correlating color coded 3 ring binder with other related theory worksheets corresponding with the lesson book concepts.  Sheet protectors & dry erase markers save me a ton in printing costs!

For example, following are the Lab Activities I have outlined for Hal Leonard Lesson Book 4 (with  CD):
Rustic Dance (p. 5)
  1. Listen to CD and write in your music if each line sounds major or minor.
  2. Find and Label 5 C Major Scales
  3. Find and Label 1 a minor scale.
  4. Label each of the following measures in your music as either contrary or parallel motion.
Measure 13, 14, 15 & 17
  1. What does D.C. al Coda mean?______________________________________________

Carpet Ride (p. 6)
1.  Listen to the CD and think of a different title for this piece__________________________________
2.  Write the beats in the measures on the first line.
3.  Color the ties blue.
4.   Color the slurs green.
5.  Color the dynamics in your music.

Mister Banjo (p. 8)
1.  Listen to the CD and listen for major and minor sections.  Draw a blue line over the minor sections and a yellow line over the major sections.
2.  Write the beats in the first line of music.
3. Trace over all of the eighth rests using a colored pencil.
4.  Look at the sharps and flats in this song (accidentals).  Decide what key the piece is in and write the key signature at the beginning of each line.
5.  What does D.C. al Fine mean?______________________________________

Morning Bells (p. 9)
1.  Listen to the CD and decide which hand has the melody in each line.  Color the treble clef on the lines where the Right hand plays the melody.  Color the bass clef on the lines where the bass clef plays the melody.
2.  Listen to the CD again and pretend you are pedaling by moving your right foot up and down immediately after the first beat in each measure.
3.  Color all of the accents red.
4.  Color the dynamics.
Ribbons (p. 10)
1.  Listen to the CD and tap the rhythm while counting aloud.
2.  Listen to the CD again while practicing the pedal motions with your foot.  Be sure to change the pedal immediately after the first beat in each measure.
3. Which measure has a different rhythm then the rest?______________
4.  Mark the Intervals of a  7th in your music (Hint: they should go from a line to a line or from a space to a space)
5.  Define a tempo______________________
6.  Define loco _________________________________
Calypso Cat (p. 13)
1.  Label all of the C scales
2.  Write beats in measures 1-8.
3.  Listen to CD and tap and count the rhythm.
4.  Color all the accents red
5.  What is the relative minor key to the key signature of this piece?____________________

Jig (p. 14)
1.  Listen to the Cd.  Where does the melody switch to the left hand?_______________
2.  Write the beats in the first line.
3.  Listen to the CD again clapping on the first beat of each measure and counting aloud (1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3,…etc.)
4.  Color the Intervals of a 6th in a left hand. (Hint: 6ths go from a line to a space or from a space to a line).
5.  Draw rainbows where your right hand “glides” over your left hand

Two-Four-Six-Eight (p. 16)
1.  Write beats on the first page. Write beats 1 & 4 larger or darker (1,2,3,4,5,6,) to show emphasis.
2.  Listen to the CD counting aloud and clapping on beats 1 & 4 (1,2,3,4,5,6   1,2,3,4,5,6,etc.)
3.  Draw a yellow line below the measures where the Tonic(I) is the bass note.  Draw a blue line below the measures where the Subdominant(IV) is the bass note and draw red line below the measures where the Dominant(V) is the bass note.
4.  Draw arrows in your music to show spots where the Left hand position shifts up or down (For example at the end of measure 4 you have to jump your 5th finger up from bass C to F to play the notes in measure 5)
5.  Find and color harmonic 5ths, 6ths and 7ths in the left hand. (Choose 3 different colors)
6.  Write how many measures in the song you can spot each of the sample rhythms in the blue box at the top of p. 16.

Allegro (p. 20)
1.  Listen to the CD and tap the Left hand saying “sh” for each of the rests.
2.  Which 2 lines are the same?  _________________  Label the Form of this piece.
3.  Find and label the a minor and C major scales.

Etude (p. 21)
1.  Listen to the CD and think of another name for this piece.  ____________________
2.  Identify the chord in each measure by letter name, tonality (Major or minor), and inversion (6/3=1st inversion, 6/4= 2nd inversion).  Hint:  The note above the gap’s the root, it just has rearranged.  Example: In measure two,  notes  d-f-a = d minor 6/4 chord

Take it Easy (p. 22)
1.  Write Roman Numerals ( I, IV, or V) next to the chord letter names.
2.  Color the tonic chords yellow, subdominant chords blue and dominant chords red.

Close By (p. 23)
1.  Write Roman Numerals next to the chord letter names.
Jumping Beans (p.24)
1.  Label the left hand chords by letter name.
2.  Color the tonic chords yellow, subdominant chords blue and dominant chords red.
3.  Find and label 2 C pentascales.
4.  Color the octaves (intervals of an 8th).
Relay Race (p. 25)
1.  Find and label the I & V7 chords.
2.  Listen to the CD.  Does the left hand measures 9-16 play the same melody as the right hand measures 1-8?  ____________________________________

A Minor Tango (p. 26)
1.  Write in the beats for each measure.
2.  Listen to CD and tap the rhythm.
3.  Label chords with roman numerals.
4.  What is the relative Major of a minor?___________________

All the Pretty Little Horses (p. 27)
1.  Color and label Primary Chords ( I, IV & V7)
2.  Color dynamics

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (p. 28-29)
1.  Write the beats in the first line of each variation.
2.  Listen to the CD and tap and count the rhythms
3.  Circle the variation that you like the best
Traditional                   Classical                             Swing

Spanish Dance (p. 31)
1.   Find and label 2 G scales
2.  Circle all of the F#s with a Red Pencil
3.  Listen to the CD and label the form of this song
4.  What beat does this song start on.
5.  Define loco_________________
6.  Define Vivace______________________

True Blues (p. 32-33)
1. Color the ties yellow.
2.  Listen to the CD and tap the Right and Left Hand rhythms.
3.  Find where the 1st line repeats and draw a colored line over both sections.
4.  Common Time (4/4) has the feeling of ___________ beats per measure; Cut time (2/2) changes the feeling to __________ beats per measure.

Blues For a Count (p. 34)
1.  Write beats in the first line
2.  Color triplets starting with D-yellow, G-Blue and A-Red
3.  Color R.H. intervals with the top note C-yellow, F-Blue and G-Red
4.  Listen to the CD and tap and count the rhythm.

Doo Wop Ditty (p. 35)
1.  Color all of the C chords in the left hand.
2.  How many times does the left hand pattern repeat?
3.  What key is this piece in?   __________
4.  Listen to the CD and tap and count the rhythm.

Wandering (p. 37)
1.  Define Adagio _________________
2.  Write the beats in the first 2 lines. 
3.  Listen to the CD and tap and count the rhythm
4.  Color the melody line.

Ready to Rock! (p. 38) 
1.  What key is this piece in?
2.  Find and circle all of the F#s in red.
3.  Add Roman Numerals (I,IV,V) beside the chord letter names

The Bass Singer (p. 39)
1.  What 2 lines are the same?________________
2.  Color and label the chords with the letter name above (G) and Roman Numeral below (I).
3.  Write in the beats for the first  2 lines.
4.  Listen to the Cd and tap the melody line with more arm weight than the harmony.

On the Prowl (p. 40)
1.  Add Roman #s under the chords and color the i-yellow, iv-blue and V-red.
2.  Listen to the CD and tap the melody line with more arm weight than the harmony.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Piano Music Storage Bags

As a practical minded piano teacher, I prefer to come up with unique yet useful rewards for our annual piano studio Achievement in Music Program.  Partly this is due to the fact that we have accumulated a lot of participation trophies from our children's involvement in various sports, which collect dust on the shelf and eventually end up having to be stored in a box on a different shelf.  Last year my students were excited to get a grand piano shaped pencil sharpener with keys that move as you sharpen.
After reading this fabulous tutorial on how to  "Make Your Own Piano Bag"  post by Anne,  I was inspired to make some individualized bags for students who earned superior marks.   I selected some free images online and let the students pick their choice of image and font. 
I picked up some multi-packs of canvas totes & iron on inkjet transfer paper from Walmart and here are a few of the results.
My favorite image was this free printable quote from my sister Kara's blog.
 In addition to ironing this on one of my student's bags, I  printed and framed the bright yellow version of this and placed it on the window ledge above my kitchen sink.  As a mom of 6, it provides perspective for me on days when the dishes and laundry piles seem endless or when my kids are less than enthusiastic about practicing the piano and I start to feel a little discouraged.  I love reading this optimistic reminder!

So even though my children still don't jump at the chance to practice, at least they always know where to find their books( in the wicker "piano bag" basket next to the piano) and my house is one step closer to clutter free :)