Friday, May 5, 2017

Hear See and Feel the Fun- Music Games and Activities

I put together this handout full of fun game ideas for a Round Table presentation I'll be doing  at a UVMTA  event for the music teachers in my area.  With so many fun game and activity resources it was difficult to choose which ones to highlight.  But fortunately the links at the bottom can take you to my organized games list so you can pick your favorites for yourself or add a note in the comments to share your favorite off the bench activities!
Why Games and Activities?
·         Engage – Games appeal to visual, tactile auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.
·         Solidify – Repetition with appealing adaptations solidifies learning without boredom.
·         Assess Mastery – Games provide a non-threatening avenue to “test” skills without the fear of failure.
·         Isolate Concepts – Gradually introducing isolated ideas prepares for mastery without frustration and is a useful tool in tuning up trouble spots.

Sample Music Games & Activities

Rhythm Tag Group Game

Rhythm Bug Circle


The  Let's Play Music method of introducing rhythms with bugs my favorite. It makes learning the more difficult eighth and sixteenth patterns seem like a cinch because the bug analogy provides both a visual and auditory memory aid.
As a parent of a Let's Play Music student and as a Connections teacher I have been amazed at how very young students really get a firm grasp on rhythm relationships.
For this group lesson game I used the Let's Play Music rhythm cards and had students sit in a circle of five and each selected a rhythm bug card equivalent to 1 beat (no Slugs allowed!).  They clapped and chanted their rhythm 3x and then "tagged" another person's rhythm to clap and pass the beat to.  (Bug, Bug, Bug, Grasshopper - Grasshopper, Grasshopper, Grasshopper, Beetle - etc.).  After they were comfortable with the sounds of the "bugs" we flipped the cards and reviewed the traditional rhythm symbols & their names.  I love how this combines the Sound-Feel-Sign-Name learning sequence all into one short activity.

At Halloween time I like to do a similar Rhythm Circle Game but instead I use some of the Candy Bar Rhythm Cards from Layton Music that have the same number of beats in a measure. With these longer patterns, students have to repeat their measure 3 times before clapping out another person's candy bar rhythm.

Collect A Chord Game


I came up with this Collect a Chord game to help my students to solidify their chord spelling, but its easy enough that even a young beginner just learning skips can figure it out.  I love its ease and adaptability. Its quick enough to make a perfect lesson starter with student vs. the teacher and it also makes a great group game. I use 3 sets of Music Alphabet cards, but for a larger group you would need more.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Teaching Piano Technique Motions Creatively: Caterpillar Crawl (updated)

Teaching Piano Technique with Caterpillar Crawl Music Listening and Movement Activity
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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Incredible Scales Boardgame

Years ago, somewhere in the vast sea of internet resources I found this simple scale review gameboard that I especially love to use with my students at lessons and during home practice as festival time approaches.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it again despite the wonders of google.


But a similar customized scale review could be easily put together to match the needs of your students. All you need is a blank gameboard, sheet protector, dry erase marker, die, timer or stopwatch and some pencil paper.
In each of the game board blanks write a specific technique skill to be played.  For example, D Major Both Hands, E Major Right Hand, C Major Chords, A Major Arpeggios.  I like how the game board I have focuses on scales for the first half and then adds in chords and arpeggios on the right side.
To play the game:
1. Set the timer (2, 5 10 minutes?)
2. Place your game markers at start.
3. Roll the dice and play the scale you land on.  If you play it correctly give yourself a point.  If you make a mistake play the scale (chord or arpeggio) 3 times before earning 1 point and moving on.
4. As soon as your timer beeps add up your score.
5. Repeat daily(at home practice)/ or weekly (at lessons) and try to get a better score (or finish the whole gameboard!)
The benefit of this game is that students are more eager to play their technique skills and they really focus in and slow down to play them correctly the first time instead of plodding over their mistakes quickly!