Friday, April 24, 2020

Piano Adventures Lesson Book Level 1 Unit 1 Assignments and Supplementary Activities

Lesson Plans for Teaching Staccato and Legato Articulation

Now that I am teaching piano online, I've been streamlining my lesson plans by sending customized lesson assignment instructions via google docs to my students.  I like how this new format allows me to embed links with videos and supplementary activities for flipped learning at home that were previously done during lab time.

Analogies are perfect tools for teaching legato and staccato.  Following are just a few that I like to use to connect the dots for students.

Teaching Staccato Touch on the Piano

  • Staccato looks like a ball bounced paint splotched under the notes. (Let's Play Music
  • Staccato sounds like popcorn kernels bursting (Hal Leonard) or raindrops dripping (Forrest Kinney)
  • Staccato feels like a woodpecker tapping the keys (Faber) or walking on hot sand (Forrest Kinney).

Teaching Legato Touch on the Piano

  • Legato feels like legs walking across a giant keyboard, sticky hot fudge sauce on the keys (Martha Beth Lewis) or a bird soaring through the skies (Piano Safari).
  • Legato slurs look like a ball dipped in paint rolled across the page (Lets Play Music)
  • Legato sounds like cool water (Forrest Kinney) or slurred speech.

This post includes specific instructions for pieces in the Piano Adventures Lesson Book 1 but many of the activities could also be used with other pieces for introducing and reviewing the concept of legato and staccato.

Piano Adventures Lesson Book 1 Plans


Lesson: Red LB 8 Firefly

 Practice Steps/ Goals: 
  • Review what you know by completing p. 4-5 during Lab.
  • Listen to the audio of Firefly as you follow along in your music. Tap the rhythm with the correct hand.
  • Circle the symbols indicated on the top of the page.  Can you also find 2 broken chords?
  • *After playing it as written can you transpose it to the G 5 Finger Scale?
  • Optional: Game VMT Don’t Leaf Me or Flower Power

Lesson: Red LB 10 Little River

 Practice Steps/ Goals: 
  • Make the solfa hand signs as you sight sing (Do, re, mi, fa, so, fa, mi, re, do, re, mi, etc.)
  • Play and listen for a  legato (smooth and connected) sound as you float off at the end of each phrase.
  • *Can you  play it with your eyes closed and/or transpose to another 5 finger scale?
  • Optional: Game PN Ear Training Bingo 

Lesson: Red LB 11 Sailing in the Sun

  •  Watch “Give it a Rest!” Video
  • Listen to the audio of Sailing in the Sun as you follow along in  your music.  Slide your hands against each other on the slurred notes and clap on the notes without slurs.
  • As you play,  focus on the legato (smooth and connected) sound as you float off at the end of each slur (phrase).
  • *Can you  play it with your eyes closed and/or transpose to another 5 finger scale?
  • Optional: Game VMT Sssslurs

Lesson: Red LB 12 Ferris Wheel

 Practice Steps/ Goals: 
  • Watch the video of Ferris Wheel as you tap “Down, up, up” to the beat.  When does he lift his wrist?
  • Remember to keep your heel on the floor as you press the damper pedal at the end. *Did you remember to slow down gradually (ritardando) and follow the dynamics at the end?
  • Optional: Watch Create First 1 Leaving the Harbor Solo  and Duet Videos. Can you hear the blended sound created by the damper pedal and the ¾ Time dance like feel? Improvise your own song in ¾ Time on the black keys and add some pedal.
  • Optional: Borrow” the 3/4 Rhythm patterns of Ferris Wheel (LB 12) and create your own melodies stepping up and down the black keys as you chant the  words to the song. or a challenge, add some Dotted quarter Notes in the left hand to create the beat/harmony.  (F# is home, D# and C# are L.H. vacation notes).

Lesson: Red LB 14 Mexican Jumping Beans

 Practice Steps/ Goals: 
  • Watch the video of Mexican Jumping Beans  and sing the pentascales in your song solfa style (Do, re, mi, fa, so, so, so, etc.) with a staccato (short and separated) voice. 
  • Follow the warmup instructions on the page playing the song with only finger 3 and then all 5 fingers. *Did you play staccato?
  • Optional: Watch Create First Hot Sands/Cool Waters Duet and Solo  Videos to hear examples of staccato (hot sand) and legato (cool water). Then create your own song on the black keys that includes both staccato and legato sections.

Lesson: Red LB 15 The Haunted Mouse

  • Identify the ties and slurs in your music and choose 2 different colors to trace over them.  Then play the game Tie Track/Slur Slope or Music Tech Ties and Slurs
  • Can you rub your belly while tapping your head? Listen to the video of The Haunted Mouse  and for each of the measures with tied notes  in the left hand, rub your belly and tap your head to the rhythm as you say “Hold, tap, tap, tap slug, slug.”

Lesson: Red LB 16 Classic Dance

  • Circle the Broken chords in the song. Put an L in each legato measure an S in each staccato measure, and an H(hold) in the measures with dotted quarter notes.
  • Watch the video for Classic Dance  and say the articulation for each line. “Legato, legato, stac - ca- to HOLD.”
  • *Did you play the staccatos short and separated and play slurred phrases legato?
  • Optional: Listen to  Classics for Kids episode the Waltz or VMT Dotty Playground Game

Lesson: Red LB 17 Young Hunter

Many of the optional games are from my Piano Game Resource List, but some of the VMT games require a membership from Vibrant Music

Additional Lesson Plans and Related Posts:


  1. Do you have any more of these lists for other units?

    1. Yes! I will post some more within the next few weeks.

  2. Is there a way to save this so I can refer to it?