February 2013 Piano Party

Last Saturday, I held another Piano Party for my students!  These group classes are so much fun.  My students really look forward to them!

We started out with what I call the Rhythm Name game — it’s one of my favorites.  Students should be seated in a circle.  Each student must create a short rhythm that will be their rhythm name.  Before beginning, each student should take turns clap their own rhythm name, so that the rest of the group can learn and memorize them.  The teacher can begin by clapping his/her own name, saying “calls,” and then clapping the rhythm name of another student.  Gameplay is then passed to that student, who must recognize their name and call another student.  Gameplay continues until an allotted amount of time.  This game is a great test of the student’s aural skills, rhythm skills, and their musical memory!

Next, I allowed a few students to play pieces that they are currently working on.  We gave them verbal feedback on things like dynamics, but mostly we just enjoyed the music.

Then we learned about Scott Joplin!  I already used this composer study a couple of weeks ago with my homeschool class, and now I wanted to share it with my private students.  Ragtime is an important part of American music history!

Joplin lapbook inside

As students finished their lapbooks, I started two games (spitting the students into two groups).  The first one was the Alphabet Trail game from pianimation.com


This game helps students get familiar with the musical alphabet, thinking through it forwards and backwards.  I have a few beginners who need more practice with this, so I thought it was the perfect game for them!

The other game was Over The Edge, also from pianimation.com:


This is a simple game that reviews the number of beats that basic rhythm values receive.  The goal is to fill up the game card with as close to 21 beats as possible without going “over the edge.”

My students are already looking forward to next month’s Piano Party!

Joy Morin is a piano teacher in northwest Ohio (United States) who enjoys keeping her teaching fresh with new ideas and resources. ColorInMyPiano.com serves as a journal of her adventures in piano teaching as well as a place to exchange ideas and resources.

Joy has blogged 1132 posts here.

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  1. Leticia
    Posted 7 February 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Can you describe the details of your party classes. Who comes, how often, in place of lessons or in addition to, etc. I do theory classes quarterly with my students and we do a variety of things. Some by levels, some together if we are studying composers or time periods etc. It’s always great to hear how other teachers arrange these times as well. Thanks for your insight. I always learn something new to add.

    • Posted 7 February 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      Hi Leticia!

      I hold a Piano Party once a month on a Saturday morning (in addition to their lessons that week). All students under age 15 are invited, and the class lasts for an hour-and-a-half. Most of my students are beginners or elementary-level, so it has worked well so far to have everyone coming to the same class. Eventually, I will probably have to split it into two classes, especially if I want to start covering theory concepts more often in a group setting. Right now, we focus mostly on rhythm, note reading, terms, and composers.

  2. Posted 7 February 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I love the rhythm name game idea! Thanks for sharing. Coincidentally, Classics for Kids this month highlights Scott Joplin. One of my students thought it was very interesting that he didn’t even know his own birthday :)

    • Posted 7 February 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      My students thought that was interesting, too!! :)

      • Kara
        Posted 27 February 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Can you explain how the Rhythm Name Game works exactly? Do the students have to keep the steady beat the entire time?

        • Posted 25 June 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          No, they only have to keep a steady beat when tapping someone’s “rhythm name.” Does that answer your question?

  3. Posted 9 February 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joy,
    I have been considering doing group lessons for a while now. I really appreciate all the great ideas you share!

    I am wondering what your thoughts are about the minimum number of students you would recommend before trying it out.

    • Posted 10 February 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      My minimum would be 3 or 4 students, and my perfect number would be 6. I wouldn’t recommend trying more than 6 unless or until you have lots of experience working with groups of children, or unless you have a helper! :)

  4. Posted 9 February 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Joy, I got a tickle about the above of what you said about “spitting” the students into two groups! Sometimes we might feel like spitting them!
    I have group lesson this week…love the Valentines…the kids loved the grand piano last year and I am sure they will love these too. I bought music symbols molds and plan to melt chocolate for the party! I can’t wait to try the new molds out!

  5. Abby B
    Posted 9 February 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for your website! I am a violin teacher branching into teaching piano and the resources from your site and others like it have been invaluable. I am also doing a group lesson once a month and get a lot of ideas from your own groups. Thanks again!

  6. Rocio Morlan Luna
    Posted 9 May 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much! I will start with group lessons next month and all your ideas are great! We will sing a few songs, I think is important to sing for every musician :)

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