Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nursery Rhyme Movement Activities

I found these great ideas in a book I recently discovered at our college library - by Rhoda Rabin - "At the Beginning, Teaching Piano to the Very Young Child." I love how she incorporates nursery rhymes which are already familiar to many children, but adds actions that help them develop their rhythmic and fine motor skills. Here are just a few:
See Saw Margery Daw - "See saw Margery Daw, Jack shall have a new master; he shall have but a penny a day, because he can't work any faster." Move arms outstretched up to head and down to side (like a See-Saw - alternating on strong beats)

Baa Baa Black Sheep - "Baa Baa Black Sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, Yes sir 3 bags full..." Hold arms out in front of you with palms up. Cross thumbs over palms on beat 1, Move thumbs back to straight on beat 2. This could also be a great prep for older students learning 1 octave scales to help them properly sweep their thumbs under then palms when crossing finger 1 under finger 3.

Jack & Jill - "Jack & Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after."
Hold arms outstretched in front of you. Slowly alternate raising arms as Jack and Jill go up the hill. Drop one arm when "Jack fell down," drop the other arm when "Jill came tumbling after."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Music Alphabet Song Movements

For a fun variation to the Music Alphabet song (Piano Adventures Lesson Book A , p. 60 - CD Track 33) try these actions instead while listening to the CD:
Alphabet Climb: Crouch down and touch the floor. As the music alphabet goes up climb your hands up higher as you go up the music alphabet. Then go back down as the music alphabet goes back down.

Alphabet Hop: Starting on the left side of the room hop to the right as you go up the music alphabet, then hop to the left as you go back down.

Floorslap Hop: Sit on the floor with legs crossed. Starting on the left side of your body, slap the floor then move hands to the right as you go up the music alphabet, then slap to the left as you move back down the alphabet.

Keyboard Hop: Using a 1-3 Donut start with your 3rd finger on a low A on the piano. Play each key with your 3rd finger moving up the alphabet and then to the left going down.

For a challenge: Use LH fingers 4(A), 3(B), 2(C), 1(D), and RH fingers 1(E),2(F), 3(G) and play the letter names on the piano as you listen to the CD.

Fun Activities for Teaching Music Alphabet on the Keys

2 Black Key Doghouse

I usually introduce the white keys CDE (below the 2 black key groups)first.
First you say "Hey Diddle Diddle the D's in the middle" and have them find all of the D's on the piano in the middle of the 2 black keys. Then have them sing the music alphabet to discover what comes before and after D (C & E).  
My teacher taught me to find the CDE keys by calling the 2 black keys the "doghouse." The "D" for dog is in the middle. The "C" cat and "E" elephant live on each side.

3 Black Key GArage

Next I teach "F & B outside the 3" (3 black key groups) and have them find all the F's and B's on the piano.
My teacher taught me to find the GA keys by calling the 3 black keys the "GArage." It has car G & car A parked inside the "GArage." This is only effective if your child is reading fluently and can associate GA with garage.

Music Alphabet Games

Dnet Layton's free Piano Candyland cards make learning the music alphabet fun and memorable.
I transformed my older version of Candyland and chose the following spots for the pink squares: 
Piano for Plumpy, 
Bass Clef for Mr. Mint (because the bass clef resembles a candy cane and its lower on the board), Mezzo Forte for Jolly, 
Forte for Gramma Nut,
Double Bar Line for Princess Lolly 
Treble Clef for Queen Frostine (because the Faber Piano Adventures books introduce say The Queen Treble Clef has a fine swirly dress and she plays High notes on the keys). 

 I love this game because my younger kids can play with the "Keyboard cards" while my older kids are challenged by using the "Staff cards."

All of these formerly free games are now available for purchase on Susan Paradis's amazing piano site. I love her creative resources!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fast Hands (Good Ears) Game

"Fast Hands" will help your child master the concept of stepping up/down, challenge their listening skills and help them become more familiar with the music alphabet order. To play "fast hands" have your child line up their Music Alphabet cards or magnet letters in order (ABCDEFGABCDEFG.) Then have them cover up the "A" in the middle with their hand. Call out several commands in succession to "step up" (to the right) or "step down" (to the left) in random order as they move their hand to cover the correct notes. Start out slowly and as they master the task, increase the speed & # of commands before rewarding them for ending on the correct letter.
For example if the child begins with their hand on "A" and you say "Step down, step down, step up," they should end on G. Once they have mastered this game,  increase the difficulty with skips.
Fast Hands
 I have the students place a picture of cow on the left as they "moo" with a low voice to reinforce the idea of low notes on the left.  On the right is the picture of a bird who "tweets" with a high voice and flies high in the sky.  For added learning you could play the corresponding notes on the piano so they can hear the directional changes as they move their hands.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Compose Create Website by Wendy Stevens

I love it when I stumble upon great ideas on the Internet that so many generous and talented contributors have been willing to share from their variety of experiences in music education. It rekindles my enthusiasm for teaching and listening to music, and I often wish I had discovered them years before.
One of my favorite music links is by Wendy Stevens.
One of her new compositions "Irish Celebration" is perfect for beginning level students. The rhythms are simple and the teacher duet makes the song even more engaging for beginning students. To view a sample as well as many other helpful resources visit her blog on and
A few of the other resources I enjoy on her site include:
♪ Free Printable Flashcards
♪ Leveled Rhythm Practice Sheets
♪ Inspiring Music-Related Quotes
♪ Free Manuscript Paper for Composing
♪ Leveled Sightreading Samples
♪ Engaging Music Compositions like “Irish Celebration,” “Twister,” and “Easy Hymn Solos”
♪ A Frequently Updated blog with ideas for composing, music education, etc.
♪ Music Game Ideas
♪ A variety of helpful music links on listening, composing, ear training and teaching

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Counting Up the Mountain & Whole Note Hunt

Play this fun game your child to help them review the note/rest values. You can find the instructions by clicking this link to Susan Paradis's blog.
Today we also played "Whole Note Hunt." If you have misplaced the cards from the quarter note hunt we did a few months ago, you can print off some more by following this link which is also on Susan Paradis's blog.