Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's Play Music

Doesn't that title just sound fun???
I was introduced to the "Let's Play Music" program by another teacher at one of our local music club meetings and I recently attended one of their "Connections" seminars to learn a little bit more about the program.

Theory Songs

The element that piqued my interest the most was the frequent use of songs as teaching tools for basic elements of music theory. I liked the catchy melody of "Every chord has got to have a root..." on their online video. Listening to it makes the words "The Note above the Gap's the Root, it just has rearranged" start jiving around in my brain. The program includes several other clever songs for teaching the concepts of intervals, inversions, scales and rhythm patterns.

Bubblehand Technique

I've been introducing my younger students to finger numbers with a variation of "Where is Thumbkin" for a while, but I really like this additional verse they add in "Let's Play Music" because it adds one more reminder of correct hand position - a concept that seems to need constant reinforcement with young beginners.

"Where is Bubblehand... Here I am... Fingers Flat are Trouble, Try to Use a Bubble..."

Musical Form Puppetshows
Another aspect of "Let's Play Music" that I am impressed with is that the students experience most musical concepts through movement, auditory or physical motions before learning the "labels." I think this approach especially helps young learns to internalize concepts better. The video on their site demonstrates how this is done with the use of puppets to help students learn about form while listening to classical music.

I am always eager to pick up new tidbits of piano teaching tips and was happy to walk away with several after attending this seminar.

Kit Kat Black Key Groups

The chocoholic in me was tempted with the idea to use Kit Kat's broken in groups of 2's and 3's as an introduction to black keys on the piano with this fun little rhyme-
"Find a group of 2, Down 1 is C
Find a group of 3, it's F yippee!".
Maybe I'll incorporate that idea in making my piano-loving-daughter's next birthday cake, because a stash of Kit Kat's in my piano things wouldn't last very long at our house :)

"Paint Ball" Staccatos and Slurs
When teaching staccato vs. legato I like the analogy they used of a ball dipped in paint. When you roll it smoothly across a blank page it leaves a line (slur), but when you bounce it, it leaves a dot (staccato mark). I don't think I'll be teaching this "experientially" - although I'm sure children would love it if I did!

If any of you have had experiences with "Let's Play Music" either as a teacher or teacher of former students, feel free to share a comment, or to learn more straight from the source visit the Let's Play Music Site.


  1. Thanks for the great post Heidi. "Let's Play Music" sure sounds fun and there is a lot to explore on their website. The KitKat idea is fantastic!

  2. Heidi- I have gotten at least 5 great teaching ideas from this post- thank you so much for sharing what you learned. It really does sound like a program worth checking into :)

  3. I just found your blog today and I was excited to see the Kit Kats, because a few weeks ago I was brainstorming about how to make a piano cake for my husband's birthday(also a piano player). You know what I came up with? Kit Kats for the keys! :) I guess great minds think alike...hehe. I'm still developing my idea in my mind, but I'll for sure post pics in July if it is a success. :)

  4. are you still a fan of it to this day? anything to add here?

    1. I have been so impressed with the skills of my friend's daughter who has been through the Let's Play Music Program that I have applied to become a teacher in my area.

    2. Thank you for writing an updated reply. I'm thinking of registering my daughter for her upcoming 1st grade year. Do you still think Let's Play Music is a good start instead of just jumping into piano? Thanks for your response.

    3. I would definitely recommend Let's Play Music for 4-5 year olds and have enrolled my own child even though I have the musical background to teach him most concepts. I think the playful group setting is more effective for this age and the aural skills of most Let's Play graduates are more developed then the average student. The program ideally begins at age 4 or 5. So for a 6 year old I typically start students in private lessons with My First Piano Adventures which also includes many playful elements suitable for young children.