Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fun Way to Review Music Concepts Online - Quizlet

I stumbled on Quizlet this morning while searching for an easy way to help students remember the order and definition of tempo terms.  My favorite element is the "Space Race" game where you can improve both your typing skills and music knowledge as you race to "kill" the term by typing in its name or definition before it slides off the screen.
In Piano there are over 600 flashcard sets, or you can create your own customized set.  Following are just a few of the concepts quizlet could be useful for:

Key Signatures
Theory Terms
Note Names

Certificate of Merit
Piano Composers and their Historical Periods

I have created several quizlet sets to review theory terms and also have links to others organized by level on my Piano Lab page.
Quizlet Music Theory Terms & Signs  Level 2 (Hal Leonard)
Quizlet Music Theory Terms & Signs Level 3
Quizlet Music Theory Terms  & Signs Level 4
Quizlet Music Theory Terms  & Signs Level 5

I would have loved this in grade school!  It's definitely more fun than ordinary 3x5 cards I used to study in school. Something about having the message pop up at the end that says "Good Start... now beat that score, " just makes me want to play again :).

I was grateful to be sidetracked, although I didn't find the answer to my original search.  Does anyone have a great acronym, story, etc. to help students remember the order of tempo terms?

The best I can come up with involves a
Grandfather (Grave)
L (Largo)
L (Larghetto)
L (Lento)
A (Adagio)
A (Andante)

A (Andantino)
M (Moderato)
A (Allegretto)
A (Allegro)
 aspiring to be the
Vice (Vivace)
President (Presto)
P (Prestissimo)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Favorite Piano Teaching Tips from Helen Marlais Workshop

I love picking up fresh ideas and important reminders from any piano teaching workshop I have the privilege of attending.  Following are a few ideas from my notes at Dr. Marlais seminar:

  • Remember to focus on the entire playing mechanism (fingers, wrists, forearm, shoulders).  Just as a runner uses more than just their feet to run, a pianist plays with more than just their fingers. Continually reiterate the importance of arm weight (relaxed shoulders) weight transfer (flexible wrists).
  • Prescription for fixing 'finger dents' - Tap rhythms with a curved hand instead of clapping or do finger pushups against the wall for warmups.
  • For  appropriate balance  in pieces with Left Hand melody stand behind the student and ghost-play on their shoulders with exaggerated arm weight in the left hand so they can FEEL the weight emphasis as they play.
  • To teach 2-note slurs wrist motion analogy- pull a tissue from a tissue box.
  • To help students focus on wrist motion at phrase endings (2 note slurs or "rainbows" across several octaves) add a pony tail holder with a ball on top & have them watch the bunny tail hop up at the end of each phrase.  I thought some of my girl students would like this better than my airplane wings wrist movement tool
  • To focus on arm leading while playing ascending scales imagine a string attached to your right elbow pulling it slightly ahead of your hand.
  • Variations of Staccato - For a crisper sound use  a "kick-off" wrist where arm and wrist stay as one unit.  Rebound staccato is more like a bouncing a basketball with a flexible "push-off" wrist.
  • Tonic (I) is Home where "I" live, Dominant (V) is a "V" for vacation, Leading Tone (visualize a road) leading back to Home (I)
  • Intervallic Reading + Rhythmic Awareness - Line up interval flashcards and have students name them to the beat of the metromone (Up- 2nd, Down-4th, Down-3rd, Up-5th, etc.)
  • When introducing 6/8 time have student sway on the strong beats while chanting the words to the song (1,2,3,   4,5,6,)
Performance Anxiety
  • To reduce perfectionistic tendencies, don't focus too closely or get anxious over small imperfections.  Even a garden that looks great from afar may have small holes in the leaves from bugs but it still leaves a beautiful impression :)
Dr. Marlais showcased her new method series "Succeeding at the Piano." Following are a few of my favorite aspects of this new series.
  • Emphasis on intervallic reading & guide notes
  • Technique concepts introduced through multiple analogies
  • Books come with accompanying CD's including practice tips, performance speeds and orchestration 
A few of her other publications that I enjoy are:

In Recital with Jazz, Blues & Rags  - The pieces in the early level books are so fun for students and make a great introduction to jazz styles.  I also love the accompanying CDs.
Succeeding with the Masters Series  (BaroqueClassical, Romantic affiliate links). I find the Practice Strategies & Historical & stylistic information accompanying each piece to be very helpful which sets them apart from some other collections of classical repertoire I was instructed with.  The supporting CD helps to clarify concepts so the student can hear examples of the skills applying to each piece. It's like bringing your piano teacher home with you to demonstrate appropriate practice :)
Currently one of the most viewed post on my blog is the Lab Assignment I created to go with In Recital with Classical Themes Volume 1, so obviously some other teachers are a fan of this series as well.

Some of the products linked in my posts may be affiliate links, earning me a small commission on any products purchased via that link.

Good Things:

Adding new teaching tricks to my bag
Browsing through new music
My Amazing Husband who took the day off and took our 6 kids to the zoo I could attend this!
Sunny Summer Days

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Piano Lab Free Online Resources- Level 1

 In addition to the music software programs I've purchased for my lab (Music Ace, Midisaurus, Ear Training Expedition,  PBJ, etc.) the following free online resources add a fun variety of activities for my elementary music students to do independently during piano lab time.
SP-Susan Paradis
CC-Compose Create (Teaching Resources & Students Web Rewards Tabs)
CIMP- Color in My Piano
MLC- Music Learning Community (Free Games)
Piano Discoveries
MMB- Music Matters Blog
Tonic Tutor
Happy Note
Classics for Kids (I typically have students listen to "This Week's Show")

Following is a list organized by concept. Do you have any other favorites to add to the list for this level?

LH/RH  & Finger Numbers
SP Colorful Fingers printable

Same/Diff. Melodies
MLC Smiley & Friends
Going Up/Down
MLC Storm Chasers

Tonic Tutor Stick People
Note Names QH
MLC Meteor Match
Note Names QHW
Happy Note Space
Rhythm QHWqr
CC Note Value printable

SP Drawing Notes printable
Ear Training Rhythm
Tonic Tutor Dancing Jelly Beans
White Key Names
Tonic Tutor Piano Keys

MLC Letter Fly CDE

MLC Letter Fly FGAB

SP Hide the Pumpkin printable

CC White Key Notes printable

Emusictheory.com Piano Keys Quiz
Up/Down on Staff
WPS Moving Up and Down worksheet

SP ABC;s on Staff Worksheet
Bass Clef F &G
Happy Note Bass Clef F & G

Candy Corn Note Puzzle Bass FGAB

CIMP Bass Clef Dot to Dot printable
Bass & Treble Clefs
CC Drawing Clefs printable

Piano Discoveries Barnyard Video/Wkst/Online Games

CIMP Treble Clef Dot to Dot printable

SP Guide Notes Worksheet in order

SP Guide Notes Worksheet random
Staff Treble CDEFG
Happy Note Treble Clef CDEFG
MLC Page Turner Treb CDEFG play 2x
Treble Staff
MLC Page Turner Treble FACE play 2x

Pedaplus.com Treblebeg
Tonic Tutor Lasers

CC Landmark Notes Crossword printable
Notes on Staff
Tonic Tutor Note Bird
Steps and Skips
Tonic Tutor Jungle Journey

CC Steps and Skips Worksheet

Theta Chord Spells Level 1 (40)
E.T Melody
Tonic Tutor Robot
Rhythm Recognition
Tonic Tutor Piggybank
Theory Terms
Tonic Tutor Boxing Glove
Hearing Steps/Skips
Big ears Intervals-:P1(repeat), M2(st), M3(sk)

Theta Paddle Pitch Level 1 (40)
Hearing W H Qt
emusictheory.com easy whole,quarter,half

Theta Flash Rhythms Level 1 (40)
Half Steps Whole Steps
CC Half Steps/Whole Steps Printable

MMB Half/Whole Step/Skip Printable
Level 1 Practice Test (for purchase on Compose Create)

CIMP Review Test A

CIMP Review Test B

CC Web Rewards Level 1

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Organizing Piano Games

Piano Studio organization is a work in progress. 
I've tried several different methods to organize my games & this is the best I've come up with for now.
I store my gamecards in these small plastic totes, inside of a larger plastic tub with a lid.

Labels on the top of each box help me remember the contents of each box.

Thanks to a helpful tip from another blogger, I purchased these expandable files to store my flat gameboards  in.  I originally tried to add the gamecards too so they could all be in one place, but I didn't like the bulkiness it created.

I printed  tiny images of the contents on one sheet of paper so I can see at a glance which games are stored inside.

The games fit snugly inside this old tv cabinet beside my piano for easy access during lessons.  
 I also keep my teaching binders, most often used piano books for checkout inside.  I love having it close by but behind closed doors.
My own children's piano bags are stored right next to the piano.

But soon all of my games and music library materials will be happily moving to a new home that is almost 3x larger! We have a large tv armoire (a great Craig's list find)  that I plan to put a few shelves in.  Then I can store all of my music in the large space for the tv and put all of the games and other tools underneath in the video storage area.
For more piano games organization tips check out this "Game Materials Organization"post by Joy ... (the inspiration for this post:)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Piano Lab Assignment Sheets

Creating and organizing my piano lab curriculum has been a long ongoing process. After going to a local piano teacher's seminar by Renee Lacey (creator of Ear Training Expedition), I decided to organize my own list Computer Lab Activities to directly correlate with the order of concepts introduced in the method books I typically use.
Renee has a booklet for sale with lab lesson plans utilizing various software programs and organized by rotating weekly themes (see more under Leveled/Topical Approach in this post). For my friend who has a large studio this has been a great asset. I chose to come up with my own curriculum instead so that I could more flexibly implement other online resources, avoid the cost of new software and cater to my students specific needs.
I have a durable plastic colored folder for each of my students that includes their Piano Lab Assignment Tracking Sheet. Following is a small sample of my Level 1 Activities. To the right of the activity there is a column for "Date Assigned," "Score,"(recorded by student) and "Done"(checked off by teacher). By color-coding the activities (Green-online, Black-lab binder w/ dry erase markers, Red-Music Ace, etc.) I can more easily prep for lessons. Before or after lessons it only takes me a minute or two to scan each students checklist, check progress & move the highlighter tape to the activities I'd like them to complete next. If they have mastered a concept (like white key names) before completing all the activities, I skip to the next concept. It is helpful for me to have them all listed for students who need the extra reinforcement



LH/RH & Finger Numbers

SP Colorful Fingers worksheet

Tonic Tutor Blue Finger Puppets


Midisaurus Sounds Around Us

Midisaurus High and Low

Ear Training Exped.P1 Level 1-Unit 1

Music Ace Lesson 2 Intro to Keyboard

Music Ace Game 2

Same/Diff. Melodies

MLC Smiley & Friends play 2x

Going Up/Down

MLC Storm Chasers play 2x

Ear Training Exped P1 Level 1 Unit 2

Note Names QH

MLC Meteor Match play 2x

Note Names QHW

Happy Note Space

Rhythm QHWqr

WPS Note Value Worksheet

Draw qr 4/4 measure

Theory pg 10-14 (draw rests, measures)

Adagio Allegro

Midisaurus Fast and Slow

Rhythm Steady Beat

Music Ace Lesson 3 Beat and Tempo

Music Ace Game 3

White Key Names

Midisaurus Music Alphabet

MLC Letter Fly CDE

MLC Letter Fly FGAB

Tonic Tutor Piano Keys

Alfred Name That Key

SP Hide the Pumpkin Worksheet

WPS White Key Notes Worksheet

Emusictheory.com Piano Keys Quiz

Music Ace Lesson 5 ABC’s of Keyboard

Music Ace Game 5

Music Ace Lesson 7 More Piano ABC’s

Music Ace Lesson 7


Midisaurus Loud and Soft

Theory pgs 22-25 f/p complete measure

I also typically have them start lab by listening to the weekly Classics for Kids program (about 5 min).

Sometimes if a student is making fast progress, I allow them to choose their own activities from the link list on my blog, beat their own high scores or just create their own songs on the Music Ace Doodle Pad.
After they are familiar with the analysis process I also assign them listening & analysis tasks specific to the song they are learning, but I don't track this on their assignment sheet.