Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Rhythm Match and Build" Music Group Game

I invented another group game for our last group lesson utilizing materials I had on hand.  The game gives students practice with visual, auditory and kinesthetic rhythm skills.

Rhythm Beat Boards (from pianimation.com)
Mitten Match or other set of matching rhythm cards (I printed mine fromsinganewsong.blogspot.com, but they are no longer available.)
How it Works:
Divide students into teams and give each team one of each rhythm card (so one team has the match to each of the other teams cards)
A member of team 1 claps and counts a rhythm card correctly. (1 point)
Team 2 consults as a team to correctly identify the rhythm card that their opponent clapped. (1 point)
Both teams build the rhythm on the beat board using beans, play dough or silly putty. (1 point)

Teams alternate roles and tally points based on the tasks they complete successfully.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Minute to Win It Scale Builders

Minute to Win It - Scale Building
During our December piano party, I rounded up resources I already had and repurposed them.  I find that when I ask my students to play scales at the piano, they sometimes stumble through trying to pick out the correct notes by ear instead of thinking ahead to remember the notes in that key.  This game forced them to figure out the sharps and flats in the scale and then correlate it to their key signatures.
Scale Key Cards (from Susan Paradis Nine Keys game)
Scale Blocks (tutorial and other uses on Music Matters Blog)
Blank Grand Staff White Board
Dry Erase Markers
Minute Timer
I divided the students into teams then had them draw a key card and race to both build the scale blocks in the correct pattern and then write the key signature on the staff white board using the correct order of sharps or flats.  I love that each round only takes a minute!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Trepak Baseball - A Creative Way to Teach Form and Feeling the Beat

 Today I witnessed something amazing :) My son hopped on the piano bench this morning at 7 am to spontaneously practice.  Usually getting him to practice is more like pulling teeth, or once again reminding him of our rules "Yes you can play with friends, watch football, etc.. as soon as your practice and chores are done." My secret weapon: A Trepak duet.  We've been playing it together this week and he keeps coming back to it because it is so fun to play and it sounds impressive.

I came up with this movement activity to engage my preschoolers in some fun and slipped in a little training on form.  For older students I usually have them create musical maps  to understand and remember form in their pieces, but I think ramping up the movement makes it more memorable for the younger student, as well as allowing them to practice feeling the beat of the music.
As you listen to the music imagine a baseball player taking his turn at bat, running the bases, catching some fly balls and then coming back to bat to win the game.

Sing the words and do the actions indicated in italics.

1st Time at Bat (A) (Do actions on the strong beats)
Swing Swing(Pretend you are swinging a bat to hit the ball 2x in a row)
Run (Tiptoe run around the room or tap hands on lap to the beat like your hands are running)
Swing Swing (Repeat actions)
Swing Swing
Swing Swing

Heading to the Outfield (B) - (Do actions during words in ALL CAPS)
HEADING to the OUTfield  (Point away from body)
REACHING for a FLY Ball(Reach with imaginary mitt for the ball)
HEADING to the OUTfield (Repeat actions)
I Caught One! I Caught One! (Bring hand to palm as if catching the ball)
I Caught One! I Caught One!
We get to go to bat again.(Cheering motions with arms)

2nd Time at Bat (A1)
Swing Swing
Swing Swing
Run, Run, Run (faster and faster)
We Won!

Once the children have mastered the actions you could further expand their listening skills by having them count how many times they "Swing," listen for what new instruments begin to play on the later "swings" during the first time at bat, compare and contrast the 1st time at bat to the 2nd time at bat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Free Music "Glorious" sung by David Archuleta

 A couple of years ago I discovered a great resource for inspiring music for a great price... FREE!  One of my favorite songs on the LDS Youth Music Site   is "Glorious" by Russ Dixon.  

I am not a frequent movie goer, but I do love history, realistic drama and feel good movies, so I was excited to go to "Meet the Mormons" for date night with my husband a few weeks ago.  I enjoyed the diversity of real life stories, but my favorite was the final highlight of the "missionary mom" who experienced loneliness, heartache, peace and love through some interesting and unexpected twists and turns in her life.  (I should have brought some tissues.)  

To cap off the feature film, I especially loved hearing the David Aruchuleta version of "Glorious" which is available for free download at Meet the Mormons.com

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spicing Up Piano Lessons

I recently shared some of my favorite creative teaching tools and ideas at a class I taught at my local music store. I compiled the following list of links to fun ideas and resources from this blog and other talented bloggers that I have especially enjoyed using with my students.  You can also access the link to this post at the top of my page for easy reference.
 Fun Lesson Starters
Teaching Theory Through Games
    • Major: We Were Happy When We Were Home
    • Natural minor: When Harry Went West He Wore White
    • Harmonic minor: We Have Watermelon With Harry WhenHe's Home)
Technique and Rhythm the Fun Way
Practice Incentives/Group Piano Parties

Stretching Your Teaching Tools
  •  Chord Progressions with Familiar Folk Songs or Pre-Time Fun Favorites 
  • Use Teacher Duets with 2 siblings/students at different levels
  • Adapt Game Rules for Multiple Purposes.   For example 1 deck of Interval Cards could be used for Don't Eat "Pete", Interval Towers, Over the Edge, War (Slow Paced Naming Intervals), Slapjack, Speed Sorting (Fast Paced Interval Matching), Interval Bingo (Slow Paced Interval Ear Training), Swat the Interval (Fast Paced Ear Training) BANG!, or Minute to Win it Sightreading Challenge (Notereading and Intervals)
Supplementary Book Recommendations:

Pattern Play by Akiko and Forrest Kinney (Link to Free Sampler online) (Listening Room)
Discover Blues Improvisation by Faber/Edwin McLean 

Alfred's Famous & Fun Series (Classic Themes, Familiar, Pop, Fun Favorites) by Carol Matz
Faber Gold Star Performance Books with CDs
Faber Pre-Time to Big-Time (Children's Songs, Favorites, Classics, Popular, Ragtime and Marches)

In Recital with Jazz Rags & Blues or Classical Themes by Helen Marlais
Piano Safari Technical Exercises and Rote Pieces by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr

Other Popular Posts
Piano Teaching Binders -(Notes in the Fast Lane, Sightreading Challenge Sets, Rhythm Drills, Picture Scales etc.)
Piano Online Lab
Piano Teaching 101

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Quest for Virtues - Theme for the New Piano Year

Earlier this week when I attended a classroom event in my child's school, I was impressed with their classroom focus on 5 character traits.  The week's theme was on Perserverance so they copied the poem Try Try Again to start out the day. I appreciate her teacher's efforts to utilize classic character concepts while teaching the basics of writing, reading, science and history.  Although I was an "A" student, now that I'm approaching my 40s I realize that although I can no longer regurgitate my geometry theorems, fluently conjugate my Spanish verbs, or label all of the county's and county seats of state where I no longer live.  But the process of learning these bits of information instructed me in the more lasting virtues of being conscientious and persistent even when some school subjects weren't interesting to me.

So when I brainstormed my entry for the Most Creative Piano Quest at Teach Piano Today
I chose the theme “A Quest for Virtues.” Next year I want to issue specific challenges each month tied to virtues.  Following are the themes I came up with but plan to fine tune over the next few months.
Creative – Compose and Share an Original Composition at a Recital or Group Performance.
Honest – Accurately report your practice minutes/efforts consistently.
Optimistic – Be positive about your own accomplishments or attitude at lessons.
Precise – Pay attention to the details (dynamics, artistry, fingering, etc.).

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monster Bus Fan

 Lately, my little 2 year old has been begging to listen to "Monster Bus Driver" (My First Piano Adventures Book A) and I love hearing his delighted voice exclaim
"It's Comin'"
"Beep Beep"
"Mom It's Honking"
"G'bye Monster Bus!"
A few days ago after seeing me practice duets with his older siblings, he wanted to have a turn too, so I pulled out the CD and book and played through several songs/activities with his hands "riding" on top of mine.  I love that he just keeps begging for more, because of the playful engaging nature of the music and illustrations even though he's a little young to actually execute the echoing of the rhythm correctly.
Wrist Forearm FINGERTIPS!

Knuckles, Elbows, SHOULDERS, too!
 What is interesting is that one of my daughter's absolutely hated this song because she was scared of the creepy sounding monster's voice.   So instead she became a lover of the Pumpkin Trick or Treat Game.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Piano Summer Olympic Events

Piano Olympics  is one of my favorite incentive programs to use with my students over the summer.  I love how it allows students to "shine" in different areas that they excel in while boosting their skills with a little bit of friendly competition.  Each Student has a tracking chart to record their individual progress in the events.  I also post the current "rankings" each week of the top student in each category by adding a (removable) star sticker by the name of the lead student in each event. Another bonus to this incentive program is that students of varying levels can all compete by suiting the level of difficulty of the tasks to their abilities.

Practice Marathon- (Record Results Every Week)
Persistent & steady wins this race.  Color a circle and/or write the date on your practice chart  [from ComposeCreate.com] each day you practice 30 minutes.  The first student to reach 42 days of practice wins the Gold!
Choose at least 2 other events to compete in each week.

Note Name Dash-

For this event, study your flashcards of notes on the staff.  To participate I will time you to see how quickly you can name and play 24 “notes in the fast lane”.  Aim to play and say all the notes on a sheet in less than 1 minute to advance to the next level.

Rhythm Hurdles
To jump the rhythm hurdles you set your metronome at quarter note=72 and play lines from the rhythm drill on one piano key while you count out loud.  I’ll track how many lines you can play while counting aloud in a row without any mistakes.  Once you play a whole page perfectly, you advance to the next division. [Level 1=quarter, half & whole notes], [Level 2 adds dotted half notes,  half & quarter rests]. [Level 3 adds eighth notes and ties], [Level 4 adds dotted quarter notes] [Level 5 adds triplets]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Edible Pianos

Another favorite activity at our summer music camp was creating edible pianos. This is an especially memorable activity for kinesthetic learners.
1. The music alphabet has 7 Letters - Choose 7 white cookie wafers and draw the first 7 letter of the alphabet on wafers with frosting bags. Sing the Music Alphabet (a minor scale) while pointing to the keys.  Then sing it backwards.

2. The keyboard is arranged in groups of 2 and 3 black key "houses" that can help you learn the white keys.  The "Doghouse" has a smaller "roof" with D in the middle. The GArage is obviously bigger because it takes more space to house 2 cars (G&A) then to house a dog :)

While my daughter helped students finish assembling their pianos, students took turns at the piano finding the D's (Hey Diddle Diddle the D's in the Middle) and playing the "Alphabet Boogie" duet on the piano with me.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mason Jar Melodies

 One of the biggest hits at our piano camp was the Mason Jar Melodies, a fun idea I found on pinterest.  Before camp I "tuned" the jars to match the pitches of the first six notes of a major scale by adding the perfect amount of water.

1.  Discovering Pitch - I set the jars randomly on the counter, removed the lids and had students "test" two jars  with a plastic spoon to determine which was higher or lower.  They gradually sorted all of the jars until they formed a pentascale +1.  The girls thought it was neat that I had colored them in rainbow order.

2.  Next we played a game of Name that Tune" as students took turns playing the beginning measures of familiar pieces I had written using color coded notes.  Since my campers had varying levels of experience, it was nice that even beginners had the chance to make music and apply their understanding of rhythm values we had reviewed earlier.

For some odd reason, one of the jars was dysfunctional on the day of camp, but it worked fine the day before and the day after???  But, things still worked out as some of the more experienced students just sang the tone of the "bad jar" so they could still decipher the melodies.

Friday, August 8, 2014

DIY Piano Pencil Bag Tutorial

My daughter and I are prepping for Music Camp next week.  She helped me make these easy pouches for our campers to store their take home games and activities.

 I love how simple and inexpensive this was to make. It could also be a great addition to students piano binders where they can store flashcards, take home games, or maybe even serve as an erasable white board.
What you need:
Zippered Pencil Pouch
Electrical Tape
3x5 card
Because the actual size of the window of my pouch was about the size of an octave on my piano, I just used the cardboard insert to "make a pattern" for my keys, instead of actually measuring.  I placed the cardstock over my piano keys and made small snips with scissors in between each key. Then I centered the "pattern" in the pouch and lined up the 3x5 card along the "snips" to draw straight lines across the window.   I love how forgiving the electrical tape is, but I thought some of the fun colors and patterns of duct tape could also make a fun variation for the piano keys.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Part 6: Teaching Rhythm Through Song

4 Creative Ways to Improve Rhythm Through Song
1.  Add lyrics to sing to wordless songs or tricky rhythm passages
Caterpillars and Spiders= Rhythmic Success!
Recently my son was learning struggling to accurately play the eighth note rhythms in "Theme and Variation" (Piano Adventures Performance Book 2A).  I sung some impromptu lyrics to help fix the problem.
In contrast to the steady quarter note theme ("A spi-der bit my nose----- off")
the variation changes to eighth notes ("A cat-er-pill-ar bit my nose----- off")
Singing lyrics that matched the rhythm fixed the problem immediately and the quirky lyrics made the rhythm unforgettable. "A caterpillar bit my nose off, than a caterpillar bit my toe.  I think I want to make some caterpillar stew.  Would you like some stew too?"
Although I also teach numeric counting as well (4, 1+,2+,3 4, 1-2), for many students adding lyrics to match the rhythms is much more effective.   Suzuki style "Pepperoni Pizza" scales, Piano Safari "Zechariah Zebra" Technique Songs and the Piano Adventures 2A "Famous People" piece that pair rhythm with familiar words are powerful tools to aid in rhythm development.

2.  Encourage rhythm compositions introducing the sounds of rhythms before they encounter them in their music.
Layton Music Candy Bar Rhythms - Challenge students to compose a Candy Bar Melody using all of the candy bar rhythm cards.  The lyrics for me would be something like this "My favorite candy is not Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch or Reeses Peanut Butter.  Twix and Milky Way both taste great, but I like Snickers best!" I'll have to admit that my less creative compositional mind keeps on reverting to the tune of the "Old Gray Mare."

Or you could try a variation to match the interests of your students
Animals: Bear(quarter), Lion (2 eighths), Alligator (4 sixteenths)
Bugs: Bug(quarter), Bee-tle (2 eighths), Cat-er-pill-ar (4 sixteenths) (Let's Play Music)
Pies: Mince (quarter), Ap-ple (2 eighths), Hu-ckle-ber-ry (4 sixteenths), Rasp-ber-ry
Candy Bars: Twix(quarter), Snick-ers (2 eighths), Butter-finger (4 sixteenths) Layton Candy Bar Rhythm Cards
Another great resource is the Teach Piano Today "Trash to Treasure" Composition activity.

3.  Teach Rhythm Names through song.
Songs can also serve as a mnemonic device to help students remember the names of notes and rests.
Note Names - Piano Adventures Primer "Quarter Note"  It's got a head and a stem and its all colored in.
Rests - Music k8.com Give it a Rest  

4. Spice up (Boring) Scales by Singing and Playing Rhythm Variations
Instead of playing a 1 8va ascending scale with quarter notes, challenge students to play a "Twix, Snickers, Butterfinger, Twix"  or "Caterpillar, Bug, Beetle, Bug"variation.  The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

Related Posts:
Post 1: Teaching Basic Keyboard Concepts Through Song
Post 2: Teaching Technique Through Song
Post 3: Chord Progressions and Transposition
Post 4:  Ear Training Through Song
Post 5: Theory and Tempo

Monday, June 30, 2014

Piano Lab Online Activities Level 6 (Gold) Draft

Choose from the activities below for online flipped learning intermediate-level music resources.

Piano Adventures 4 Playlist

88 Piano Keys Get Inspired Episodes
Leger Line Notes Review
  Tone Savvy.com Chord ID - practice inversion id on the staff
Legato Thirds
Motive and Sequence
2 octave scales
Relative Minor 
  Alberti Bass Video
Dominant 7th Chords
  Theta Chord Spells Level 3
 Teoria Seventh Chords
2 octave arpeggios
Voicing the Melody
Harmonization with chords
Identify Major Key Signatures
  Tonic Tutor Boxing Glove
  Teoria Key Signature Identification
Write Major key Signatures
  Teoria Key Signature Construction
Interval Ear Training
  Music Teacher Games Intervals 1 M
  Music Teacher Games Intervals 2 M+m
  Chromatic Scales
  Carnival of the Animals Lion Roar

Building Major and Minor Triad on Staff 
  Teoria Major Triad Construction (Major - Root Position)
  Teoria Minor Triad Construction (Minor - Root Position)
Minor Intervals
  Pianoanne minor intervals video

  Teoria Major/minor 2nds
  Teoria Major/minor 3rds
  Teoria Major/minor 6ths
  Teoria Major/minor 7ths
  Teoria Interval Construction (Mm 2,3,6,7, P4P5)
  Review Major Intervals
Dotted Eighth to Sixteenth Pattern
  Musical Minds: Beethoven Challenge
  Phil Tulga Rhythm Counter Shoo Fly
Rhythmic Dictation with Sixteenths
  Tonic Tutor Jelly Bean
Melodic Dictation
  Tonic Tutor Robot
Baroque Style
Classical Style
Romantic Style
Contemporary Style
Forms: Binary  Rounded BinaryTernary
  Ternary Form Example

Texture: Polyphonic Homophonic Monophonic
  Video About Polyphony

Counterpoint (contrapuntal)
Ornaments: Trill Mordent Turn
  Trill Video

Minuet and Trio

Circle of Fifths
Cadences (Authentic, Full, Half)
Terms and Signs - Trill, Mordent, Turn, Wedge (Staccatissimo), Counterpoint (contrapuntal), Rolled Chords  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Part 5 Songs for Teaching Theory and Tempo - The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons

Teaching Theory and Tempo Through Song 

Singing is a fabulous mnemonic device.  I've made up songs to help my kids memorize scriptures,  multiplication tables, the scout law and spelling words.  And sometimes I even have to sing the joy school song I learned as a child to help them remember the family rules... "We never step on furniture (repeated), when we're in the Neal House.  This is a rule in the Neal House (repeated), that helps us all to be happy."  So when my students were forgetting the meaning of the time signature or tempo terms, I created some lyrics to help.

Time Signature: Time Signature Song Lyrics
Tonic/Dominant: FaberTonic up to dominant and leading tone to C
Decrescendo/Crescendo  Music K-8.com 
Chord Inversions: Let's Play Music Orange Roots Demo Video Tempo
Adagio/Allegro:"Adagio Play Slow" Song  or "A leg grows Quick!  Allegro's Quick! (Sung to 3 Blind Mice
Presto/Largo: Music K-8.com

What songs have you used to teach theory?

Related Posts:
Post 1: Teaching Basic Keyboard Concepts Through Song
Post 2: Teaching Technique Through Song
Post 3: Chord Progressions and Transposition
Post 4: Ear Training Through Song
Post 5: Teaching Tempo and Theory through Song
Post 6: Teaching Rhythm through Song
Post 7: Teaching Music History through Song

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Part 4 Ear Training: The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons

Ear Training
 Unfortunately, ear training is one aspect of music lessons that is often neglectedSince I started using Music Progressions as the framework for my curriculum, I've introduced ear training concepts much early then I was taught them.  Following are a few ideas of how to use singing to solidify early ear training concepts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Inspiration from a Student

Sometimes life reminds you in hard ways that there are things much more important than piano.  I recently had one of those reminders.  One of my former piano students was in a major car accident about a week ago.  Morgan is a vivacious, optimistic, faith filled girl whom I had also trusted as the babysitter of our children. I was impressed that she wanted lessons badly enough as a teenager, she was willing to earn half of the money to pay for them.  She always showed up with a smile.  
A few weeks ago as she was commuting from her college town to home, she apparently fell asleep at the wheel, drifted off the highway, rolled the car a couple of times and was ejected from the vehicle and sustained multiple injuries. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Part 3 Chord Progressions and Transposition

Practical Chord Progressions
Post 3
Practical Chord Progressions and Transposition
When introducing the Primary Chords, I pull out a few primer level books with traditional songs and ask my student to play accompanying chords while I play the melody and we both sing the song.  They can hear the application of learning chords right away and it is a lot more fun for them to play a duet than simply play chord progressions in different keys.   They can practice at home by singing the melody as they add chords to harmonize.  I have written in I, IV or V Chord symbols underneath the staff for the student.  Making Music Fun has a wealth of free printable sheet music ideals for this purpose. Another resource that I have

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Part 2 Teaching Keyboard Skills through Song

Keyboard Skills Songs
Post 2:
 Some students tend to confuse the names of keyboard skills (scale, arpeggio, chord progression, etc.), but ever since I read a helpful blog post a few years ago,

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Value of Singing at Piano Lessons: Beginning Concepts (Part 1 in a Series of Posts)

 Singing is such a powerful tool to accelerate learning and reinforce musical concepts in piano lessons, and yet I don't recall any of my teachers singing at piano lessons, and I'm pretty sure they never asked me to do it.  Honestly, I used to be a little hesitant to do it myself with my students, because although I can sing on pitch and have sung in multiple choirs, I'd rather be the one hiding behind the keys than belting out a vocal solo.  But the past few years, I've stretched outside my comfort zone and asked my students to do a little stretching as well.  This series of posts will  highlight different resources and methods of using singing to accelerate learning during piano lessons.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Piano Tracking Power

I love checklists.  I also like the positive power of a little competition.  So recently I came up with a little Piano Point Competition to help my students intensify their focus during home practice to prepare for an upcoming festival and recital. I wanted something...
  • Motivating
  • Competitive
  • Practical
  • Specific
  • Adaptable
I modeled my incentive after a 22 day wellness challenge that I recently completed that was super motivating for me to jumpstart my efforts to live a more healthy well-balanced life.   I was amazed at how motivating the simple tool of daily tracking was for me to boost my discipline.  And I have to admit that a little competition really works wonders for me!  As the results are coming in, I'm seeing that it is a great motivator for some of my students as well.  Following is a snapshot of the tracking sheet.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

22 Days of Wellness

This wellness competition was the inspiration for my recent studio practice competition which you can read more about here.

22 Days of Wellness

I am not a fitness buff.  In fact I really despise exercise and am only consistent because I have a great friend who comes to my house 5 days a week who I love to socialize with and get some early morning inspiring conversation as we do our "Walk away the pounds" video.
The past few weeks I've joined with some other ladies in my neighborhood to do a 3 phase wellness challenge and  have loved the feeling of conquering myself and also focussing on spiritual elements.  Everyday I track my points for drinking water, eating healthy meals, at least 2 servings of fruits and 3 veggies a day, limiting to 2 healthy snacks, 30 min exercise, 5 min abs, spiritual enrichment, 10000 steps, no pop.  One of my favorite parts is focusing on one  of 22  things happy people do each day (see below).  I'm less tempted to eat sweets when I know I have to lose points, although going without treats for 22 days was a serious challenge for me. I "celebrated" last night on my free day by making some mint chocolate hot fudge pudding dessert with vanilla ice cream. I've always been a listmaker, goalsetter, tracker personality so this worked perfectly for me.  I lost 7 lbs in 22 days ( of course 5 of that was the results of all the extra sweets I totally indulged in over the holidays).  I took first place!  Of course, next round I don't expect things to happen so quickly, but I love feeling like I'm accomplishing something each day and it has totally helped me feel more optimistic.  I've pasted the 22 Day Focus items below.

22 Things Happy People Do Differently
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. – Dalai Lama
There are two types of people in the world: those who choose to be happy, and those who choose to be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, other people, or material possessions. Rather, it comes from within. The richest person in the world could be miserable while a homeless person could be right outside, walking around with a spring in every step. Happy people are happy because...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Meaningful Musical Easter Traditions

A friend gave our family a book last year that emphasized the idea of having family traditions starting the week before Easter leading up to Easter Sunday.  I loved the idea of singing a hymn or song to represent events in the Saviour's life leading up to his resurrection. 

During the month of April, I felt inspired as I spent more time reading passages from the 4 gospels.  Although, my plans of reading a scripture passage and singing a hymn together each evening with all of our children didn't happen perfectly, I enjoyed reflecting on the meaning of the music of Easter hymns and songs throughout the week.  

As we anticipate the coming of Easter each year I look forward to celebrating his life as his followers did during his Triumphal entry (Palm Sunday), reflecting on his example and sacrifice for us, and feeling gratitude for his resurrection and the opportunity he gives us all to live again after death. 

 Following are some of the online resources (music and videos) that have made the Easter season more meaningful for me this year . Have a wonderful Easter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Teaching Note Stem Direction : Poppin' P's and Down- Low D's

I was playing Simple Stems with 2 of my children to review note stem placement.  A few turns into the game after I had explained that notes look like p's or d's (They can paddle and dive but never bbq) my son was still making a few mistakes. My daughter excitedly exclaimed, "Hey, I know... Poppin' Ps and Down low d's."  She explained that all of the notes above the middle line look like ps, and popcorn pops up, and all of the the notes down low (below the middle line) look like ds.  This little analogy worked really well for both of them and they whizzed through the game after that.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Musical Storytime: "Flight of the Bumblebee" and "Berlioz the Bear"

After reading the delightful story of a bear with a buzzing bass ("Berlioz the  Bear" by Jan Brett) with my preschooler we decided to listen to his performance song, "Flight of the Bumblebee" by Rimsky-Korsakov

Boogie Style

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Piano Lab Online Activities Level 1

The Online Piano Activities correlate with concepts in Hal Leonard Book 1 or Faber Piano Adventures Primer

Piano Technique

  Piano Adventures Primer Technique Secrets
  Piano Adventures Primer Artistry Pieces
  Piano Safari Animal Adventures Technique Videos
  Piano Safari Pattern Pieces Videos

Left/Right & Finger Numbers

  Tonic Tutor Finger Puppets

Music Protection: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

The dog ate my music (or at least that's what it looks like)! Fortunately I don't have any pets to destroy my music, but children can be pretty rough on it. 

Contact Paper has become one of my most purchased supplies as a piano teacher other than music of course.  I've gone through many rolls "laminating" cards and game boards for printable games.  It also comes in handy for

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Festival Gold Star Choice Piece Listening Assignment

Click on the link of your festival level below.  Listen to the Instrumental and Piano Samples of each song and answer the following questions

1. Write 2 or more words to describe the mood of this piece.
2. What is the tempo (speed) of this piece (Adagio, Andante, Allegro, Presto, etc.)?
3. What articulation do you hear in this piece (staccato, legato, accents, pedaling etc.)?
4. Choose your personal rating for this piece from the following:

  1. 1- I have no interest in learning to play this.
    2 - This piece is okay
    3 - Nice, but not my favorite
    4 - I would like to play this piece.
    5. I would love to learn to play this.

PP Faber Primer(Blue/Black) 
Select the Purple Primer Book at the top of the link page 
I Found a Penny
Pony Express
French Cathedrals
Chugging Choo-Choo
Eternally Music

P1 Faber Level 1 (Purple/Pink)
 Select the Red  Book 1 at the top of the link page
Most of all I Like Rainbows
Colorful Sonatina - Happy Red
Canoe Song
Chinese Painting
Three Pirates

P2 Faber Level2A (Yellow/Orange)
 Select the Blue 2A Book at the top of the link page
There's Nothing Like a Circus
Concert Sonatina -Andante
Home Run Harry
Toy Town
Grandpa Leprechaun

P3 Faber Level2B (Green/White)
 Select the Orange 2B book at the top of the link page
Festive Sonatina
Tijuana Tambourine
Gypsy Dance by Firelight
Rainbow Sister

Friday, April 4, 2014

Joplin The Entertainer Lab Assignment

Joplin The Entertainer

Divide your music into small sections and add a label above each section that fits the "act" of the entertainer.

For example during the first few phrases, I imagine...
Grand Entrance Cart Wheels
Juggling - "Toss-up, Toss-up, Toss-up"
Tumbler - and then he's "Tumbling around on the floor"
Juggling - "Toss-up, Toss-up, Toss-up"
Tumbler - Now he's "Tumbling around a little more"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Rhythm Trainer Online Flash Game

Thanks to pinterest, I discovered another useful resource today for practicing rhythmic dictation skills during piano lab.  At http://www.therhythmtrainer.com/ .  I like how there are options for fast and slow speed.  You can also customize what combination of note values to practice with including different combinations of eighth and sixteenth notes and rests.
Another useful feature is the 2 mode options.  For mode A, students listen to a one measure rhythm pattern (in 4/4 Time) and then construct it by clicking on rhythm values in the correct order.  In Mode B you can see the rhythm pattern and then select from multiple choice audio samples to select the pattern that matches the rhythm that you see. This will definitely be added to my link list of online piano lab activities.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Piano Practice and Grace

 "Why do I need to practice?"  That's what I've been hearing lately around my house a lot from my son who doesn't catch the vision of what piano practice can do for him.  I  listened to a speech this morning while exercising that totally resonated with me.  I love all of the "piano practicing" analogies that relate to improving ourselves spiritually in this life.  Following is the link to the full speech:
 "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.

 This quote reminds me of conversation I had earlier this week with my son who wanted to rush out the door to play before completing piano practice because "its too hard."  We discussed the character traits that develop through doing hard things, after a little moaning and groaning, he finally got it done.  I thought this quote by Richard G. Scott expresses what I wanted to convey to him perfectly.

"The bedrock of character is integrity. Worthy character will strengthen your capacity to recognize the direction of the Spirit and be obedient to it. Strong character is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what goals you have accomplished." (from Living a Life of Peace, Joy and Purpose. Ensign February 2014).

And a few more of my favorite excerpts from Brad Wilcox's speech:
“But Brother Wilcox, don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?

When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Piano Lab Online Activities - Level 5

Online Piano Lab Activities Level 5

Browse the links below to find online activities organized by topic for intermediate-level piano students to complete during piano lab or at home. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Piano Lab Online Activities - Level 3

Free Online Piano Lab Music Activities Level 3, heidispianonotes.blogspot.com

Following are online activities for Level 3 (Hal Leonard or Faber 2B) organized by concept.
Eighth Notes/Rests Review Visual

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Piano Lab Find : Online Music Activities by Phil Tulga

Today, a fellow music teacher referred me to Phil Tulga's music activities site.  This fun resource
allows students to create melodies and rhythm patterns using a variety of sounds.  The tools that I am excited to add to my music lab activities are:
Unifix Cube Drum Machine - a fun way to help students hear and visualize syncopation or practice tapping and counting 2 handed rhythm patterns
Counting Music - Choose from 2/4, 3/4 & 4/4, and build customized rhythms from whole to sixteenth notes and rests to practice counting or mastering tricky rhythms in their music
Musical Fraction Bars - Compose 2 measure melodies on "rhythm rulers"
Virtual Fraction Tubes - Introduce the pentatonic scale.  Great ideas for melodies to teach by rote using the black keys
Fraction Pies - Reinforce the relationship of notes and their durations using "pizza" fractions
Sequencing with Simon - Improve aural memory by playing back melodies on a virtual Simon game using notes from the C major arpeggio