Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Free Piano Teaching Game: Chord Match

Piano Chord Match Game with Triad Chord Qualities and Seventh Chords
I love to start piano lessons with short games to introduce or review theory concepts.  I find there are a lot of free piano games for beginners but not as many options that review intermediate level concepts. 

Since I could not find a game covering the concept of  identifying 7th chords and different chord qualities, I designed this memory game on canva.com and created free printable flashcards.  

This quick game helps intermediate piano students to learn about triads and 7th chords with visual reminders of the intervals used to build various chord qualities


Major Triad Picture Major 3rd + Minor 3rd, Image for teaching Major chord pattern

A few tips can help students quickly identify various chord qualities

Friday, February 11, 2022

Learn Piano Chord Progressions with Pop Songs: Try Every Key Challenge

Practicing chords doesn't have to be boring.  I love to pair chord practice with pop songs since the majority of pop songs are limited to just 3 or 4 chords. 

Although pop songs can have some pretty complicated rhythms for beginning piano students, they can enjoy accompanying YouTube videos with an understanding of chord symbols.  Or they can sing along as they play the accompaniment. Choosing songs that they are familiar with really ups their ambition to practice and helps with audiation.  

I've compiled a list of familiar primary songs from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints with just 2 or 3 chords for my younger students, but having some fun pop songs in the makes chord practice more appealing for my older students.

Playing Chord Progressions in Every Key

I adapted the catchy opening theme of "Try Everything" to create a "Try Every Key" Challenge to help my students enjoy learning the I-IV-I-V7-I chord progressions in a more fun way.  

Click here to view the Free Printable Try Every Key Challenge.

Then listen to the song to get the rhythms rolling in your head.  Although the rhythm isn't precisely dictated, singing the chord lyrics can really help student to get the sound of chords embedded in their brain.  


Audiation, Piano Chords and Guitar Tabs

Years ago I attended a piano teaching workshop and marveled at how Randall Faber could just rattle off the chord names so quickly as he played songs. This definitely wasn't something I learned in my piano training, but attending my son's Let's Play Music classes boosted my ability to identify chord progressions more easily in everyday music.

I love how with just a little practice, I can now pick out the melody of my favorite pop songs and usually anticipate the chords to play along!  

If the chords go beyond the basic primary chord progressions with I, IV and V chords, a quick google search with the name of the song usually brings up an Ultimate Guitar Tabs version. 

For a list of pop songs in various keys that use only primary chords check out my previous post, 

"Teaching Piano Chord Progressions with Pop Songs"

Pop Songs Duets

Here are a list of songs that have easy melodies for me to pick out as a teacher.  A fun way to open piano lessons is to ask them to "name that tune" as you play the opening lines of a melody while they play from chord symbols in the bass.

Then send them home with a challenge to play along with the YouTube video and write out the rest of the chords they hear. 

I-IV-I | I-IV-I | I-IV-I | I-V



I-V | V-IV | IV- I | IV-V | I


Do you have any favorite pop songs that use just a few chords?









Friday, January 14, 2022

Motivate and Track Piano Student Progress with Free Printable Piano Challenge Sheets


With so many different elements to teach in music lessons, it can be challenging to fit it all in.  This year I've invited my piano students to complete a challenge each month that goes along with our monthly group lesson focus. 

Although these concepts are woven into lessons throughout the year, having a focus theme and deadline makes it more likely for them to boost their skills.  And it makes lesson planning simpler as the teacher! 

If they successfully complete at least 10 challenges a year from this Piano Challenge Chart they are eligible for an invite to our Spring Piano Challenge Party.

Monthly Piano Challenge Focus Topics

Notenaming/Interval ID

  • Pass off a new level for the One Minute Club Challenge by naming and playing notes quickly.
    • Bronze: Bass F-Treble G
    • Silver: Bass C- Treble C
    • Gold: Bass G- Treble F
    • Master: Grand Staff + Ledger Lines
  • Susan Paradis Notes in the Fast Lane Sheets are gradually leveled and easier than flipping flashcards for this activity.

Seasonal Composing/Improvisation

Accompanist Skills 


  • Prepare to accompany a hymn or Christmas song at the group lesson sing a long.

The "Teaching Basic Accompanist Skills" post and Accompanist Tips Free Printable include helpful tips for beginners.

Arpeggios 

  • Can you play arpeggios in 12 keys?  

The Arpeggio Challenge Free Printable  includes fingering visuals for multiple levels.

Ear Training - Choose 1 challenge to complete

  • Earn 90% or Higher on Listening Test
  • Complete 30 levels on the bubble tones app
  • Finish 10 Aural Games on TonicTutor.com free play mode.

The Expert Ears Challenge Free Printable includes links to activities students can try at home or during piano lab to prepare for their listening tests.

Theory

  • Earn 90% or Higher on Theory Test

Use online practice links like Web Rewards, Teoria.com, Tonic Tutor.com, Heidispiano Quizlet to practice/prepare.

Terms and Signs

  • Earn 90% or Higher on Terms and Signs Test

This Free Printable Terms and Signs Study Sheets includes terms and signs definitions and symbols for various levels.

Scales/Chords and  Chord Progressions

I love to use the scale level charts from Colourful Keys that help students track their progress of playing chord progressions and scales in various keys throughout the year.
This Keyboard Skills Challenge Free Printable includes a variety of options to boost students chord and scale skills including some fun creative improv examples. 

Rhythm

Technique

Demonstrate the technique wizard skills on your level at piano lessons.

What other skills would you add to challenge your students?



Thursday, January 13, 2022

Easy Piano Improvisation inspiration from YouTube

When I discovered this energetic new music video from the Truman Brothers this morning I had the itch to play along on the piano.  While I don't have the music, I found it perfect as a "backing track" for a little A-flat improvisation.  It could even be used for scale practice although I find improvising much more exciting!

Steps for Pop Song Style Piano Improvisation

Identify the Key.  

This often can be done by matching the first or last pitch of the song on the piano.  "Higher"is in A-flat. To improvise, start simply by creating melodies using the notes from the Aflat pentascale (A flat, Bflat, C, Dflat, Eflat).  Later expand to include any note from the 1 octave scale.

Listen for repetitive elements in the song that you can incorporate in your own music.  

I love the frequent bass  IV-I Pattern from this song played in the intro.  The simplicity of primary chords (I, IV, and V) with an occasional vi chord is common for pop style songs. You could simply play a Db followed by Ab in the bass or play octaves for a richer sound. Add in a few V chords or octaves for variety. To create a pop or rock feel, play repetitive measure quarter notes in the left hand.

For example. Ab-Ab-Ab-Ab then Db Db Db Db or Eb Eb Eb Eb.

Match the mood.  

This pop style song has a steady drumming pulse that can be imitated by repetitive I, IV or V notes in the bass line with syncopated rhythms in the melody line. Choose a few of your favorite rhythm patterns in the song and imitate them as you improvise. 

In the key of A flat the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of scale are all you need in the bass line.

  • I-Aflat
  • IV=Dflat 
  • V= Eflat

Here's my brief unrehearsed piano improv in A flat Major... still in my pjs! Improvisation doesn't have to be perfect, but it can definitely be fun!





Monday, January 10, 2022

Valentine's Day Piano Teaching Resource Roundup

 

Love one Another Valentines Piano Teaching Resource Roundup heidispianonotes.blogspot.com

Valentine's Piano Teaching Games/Activities

Susan Paradis Steal-a-Heart- I downloaded this game years ago and keep coming back to it every Valentine's Season because its a student favorite at piano group lessons. They love the "steal-a-heart" cards!  It's a great game to review notes on the staff.  I add colored stars to the back of my cards so I can easily separate them into levels.  That way students of varying levels can play together and review the notes they need.  To speed things up a bit I have everyone pick a card at the same time, flip it, name it to a partner for fast paced fun.

Love Somebody Chords, Dictation and Ear Training  Anytime piano students can find the fun in playing chords through practical application is a win for me!  The lyric sheet with chord symbols and solfa versions facilitates easier transposition.  The ear training activities are ideal for either group or private piano teaching settings.

Love Somebody  Solfa Ear Training Tutorial  This piano teaching video tutorial includes solfa, dictation and would make a great take home or lab activity for students to try independently.

TPT No Rest for Cupid  This beginner level Free Printable Rest Value Game from Teach Piano Today is a simple lesson starter to review quarter and half rests. I love how their various version of coin uncover games provide a quick and effective no review that takes the pressure off because it's disguised in a game.

Pianimation Heart Beat Dictation  I actually use these heart beat boards all through the year for rhythm activities.  Since Valentine's season is full of hearts, this year I thought a focus on beat and tempo would pair perfectly for February group lessons.

Music
Love One Another Simplified Primary Songs page 20 (Layton Music)- This simple melody involves mainly steps and is simplified for Thumbs Share Middle C position.

Love One Another Hymns Made Easy - This version of Love One Another in the Key of G in 6/8 Time requires some finger substitution, expansion and contraction, but the slow pace and relatively easy left hand

Perfect by Ed Sheeran Chords- For the teen or student choosing a pop song and having them play the chords using Ultimate Guitar Tabs can really solidify their keyboard skills.  So many pop songs have a love theme, but this is one of my favorites and the repetitive I-vi- IV-V chord progressions makes it easy to play.  For a challenge transpose it to the key of the original song (A-flat Major) and play along with youtube using variations of the chords.  It works great with 1 octave arpeggios!

Practice
Strive for Five Piano Practice Free Printable - This adaptable piano practice incentive includes a free printable poster and post-it note heart practice trackers and could really be used any time of year, because who doesn't love to see their students practice?