Easy DIY Music Whiteboard

This has got to be one of the most-used DIY projects I’ve ever made!

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Music whiteboards cost a pretty penny in music catalogues, so I decided to make my own.  I bought this 8.5×11” frame from IKEA for under $3.  I chose one that had plexiglass instead of glass, so that I won’t have to worry about it breaking if it gets dropped.  The frame is a sturdy plastic.

On my computer, I designed the staff and keyboard pictures on a horizontal piece of paper, printed it, and inserted it into the frame.  Easy! 

I can’t tell you how often I’ve been using my DIY music whiteboard!  I pull it out during lessons all the time.  With beginners, I like to be able to quickly review the notes they’ve learned so far before I introduce the next.  Sometimes I have the student draw the notes, or and sometimes I draw the notes and ask them to identify them.  Either way, you can also have the student draw lines from the notes to the corresponding piano key below.  I like practicing intervals on the whiteboard with students, too.  With older students, you can quickly and easily draw out scales or chords.

If you make two or more of these whiteboards, you could probably come up with some fun games to use during group classes.  I’m imagining music trivia with two teams (quizzing intervals, major/minor 5-finger patterns, scales, key signatures, etc.) or maybe some melodic dictation!

It seems that whiteboards are often hard to erase.  I’ve learned a few tricks though:

  • Never use red dry erase markers.  
  • Always erase the board when finished.  The marker is always harder to erase after it has sat there for a few hours.
  • You can try cleaning it off with water (or hairspray or any other cleaner Google suggests), but after awhile, the whiteboard will still get yucky and hard to clean.
  • Fortunately, I found out that replacement plexiglass sheets can easily be bought at craft stores!  I found 8.5×11 sheets for under $2 at my local Hobby Lobby store.

I just added the “Whiteboard Background” pdf to the Printables > Other Resources page, if you’d like to download it (scroll down to the W’s).  It might be fun to design a few other types of backgrounds for the whiteboard.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!  :)

UPDATE:  This is the frame I bought from Ikea.

PG
Joy Morin is a piano teacher in Perrysburg, 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 933 posts here.

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21 Comments

  1. Posted 26 February 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    this is great! I always see suggestions for activities with a music whiteboard, and I don’t have anything to substitute. This would save a great deal of paper as well! Do you know if I could find an 8 1/2″ by 11″ frame with plexiglass anywhere besides Ikea?

    • Posted 26 February 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      I know that dollar stores always have them with glass, and they might have one with plexiglass, too. If they don’t, you could always buy the glass one and then put in a plexiglass sheet from the craft store.

      Or, maybe you could find a plexiglass frame that is 8×10 instead of 8.5×11. You’ll just have to trim the background to fit (you can let me know if it looks bad, and I can easily make another background that will perfectly fit 8×10). :)

  2. Posted 26 February 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Great idea! I’ve use a picture frame as a small dry erase board, but hadn’t thought about adding the staff and keyboard behind it. I will definitely be making one of these to use in my studio, and maybe multiples to use in group class. My kids always love a chance to write on a white board!

  3. Deanna
    Posted 26 February 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    LOVE this idea! In the past, I laminated staff paper for write and wipe, but this is so much more versatile and easier to make! Another option that is less bulky and without a frame is “DocU-Pockets.” They are sleeves you can easily slip 8 x 10 copy paper into. I use them around the studio for signs, but they firm enough to use as write and wipe boards. You can find them at trainerswearhouse.com. Small squares of fleece fabric make wonderful erasers for our classroom.
    Thanks for sharing your many wonderful ideas Joy!!!

    • Posted 26 February 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I love the idea of using fleece fabric as erasers, that would definitely make the plexiglass last longer! I will have to check out the “DocUpockets”, they sound like they would be a great portable substitute for the whiteboard. I also love the idea of slipping theory sheets in and out so that they can be re-used again and again!

  4. Posted 26 February 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Great idea, Joy! It’s nice to have this option for all students rather than just one because of the cost! Just a side note…the magic eraser works great to clean them – even when using red markers!

  5. Posted 26 February 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joy! Great idea! I have one similar to your graphic, but paid about $30 for just the one. This is a great option to have more than one in the studio! And a great way to vary the graphic! Thanks for sharing! Just as a side note…a magic eraser works fabulously on whiteboards and will even easily remove the red marker!

  6. Megan
    Posted 26 February 2013 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Rubbing alcohol works great too!! Great idea. Can’t wait to try it out!

  7. Alice
    Posted 27 February 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Brilliant!
    I used wet-erase markers — it’s a slight nuisance to wipe them off, but they come off really cleanly.

  8. Posted 27 February 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Magic Erasers (in the cleaning section of the store) make great erasers for the stubborn dry erase markers I sometimes forget to wipe off of my sheet protector binder activities. They might work well with this too. I usually cut them into smaller pieces.

  9. Posted 4 March 2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Awesome! Great minds think alike – I recently did this same thing, but just laminated the page. (I have a home laminator so it didn’t cost me anything!) I like the idea of the frame though! Very cool.

    • Posted 4 March 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jenny! I’ve laminated sheets, too — definitely a great idea — but the sturdiness of a DIY frame whiteboard in pretty handy to use by the piano when teaching!

      • Cindy
        Posted 18 November 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        Great idea and design! I just spent many hours shopping for a whiteboard with music staff lines. So glad I found your blog!! The space between those lines is perfect to work on!! I printed your sheet out and laminated it with a regular 3 mil film, it is a little thin. Then I tried doubling the films, made it into 6 mil. It works better. I am now going to order the 10 mil film and hopefully it will be thick enough to work like a lap top. I might also try the frame you suggested. Thanks a lot!

  10. Becky Barber
    Posted 8 March 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    I am so excited about this idea!!!!!! Thanks so much, Joy! I bought one at NCKP last year that I’ve used alot. It also has magnet note heads….but quite expensive and this alternative will allow me to have several for group lessons. You’re amazing!

  11. Posted 30 August 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Love it, this works perfect especially when you’re on the field and trying to give clearer instruction on the fly! subscribed :)

  12. Beth Parks
    Posted 27 September 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    This is a genius idea! I got frames from the dollar store and don’t mind using the glass, as it is easier to clean. My only request – could you shift the keyboard so it has C in the middle and aligns with the grand staff? Looking at it, it is hard to define which one is middle C. Thanks so much for this idea!

  13. Posted 15 November 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    What a great idea! I can’t wait to make one and I know my students will love it!

  14. Posted 22 November 2013 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Just discovered an even easier idea for anyone who has purchased (or is contemplating the purchase of) the Maestro’s Mate Music Holder that we sell on our website (#TG3 or TG4): I printed out the whiteboard background PDF that Joy has created and shared here, and slid it into one of the semi-rigid clear plastic panels of the music holder. It works beautifully with dry erase markers. You could also create other exercises to slip into the transparent panels when not using them to support music. It’s unbreakable, light weight, doesn’t retain the ink stain from the markers, and supports itself without a frame. Thanks, Joy, for the PDF. It’s perfect!

  15. Posted 1 April 2014 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Love it, I came across your blog when I tried to work out how on earth to draw straight lines onto a piece of glass – google didn’t seem to have the answer. My idea is like yours, just larger – I had a coffee table, got a piece of glass cut to go on top, and I wanted to get ten stave lines to on on the back of the piece of glass, so that it would double as a musical whiteboard.
    You can see the end result here:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=218778951647511&set=a.218778961647510.1073741831.165671776958229&type=1&theater

    In addition to a musical coffee table, I have made myself a mini-musical whiteboard just like yours. Thanks for sharing your awesome idea! I brought two frames and I play musical battleships with my students – It’s a great exercise for telling the difference between lines and spaces.

  16. Suzanne
    Posted 9 September 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    This is a GREAT idea! Would children’s washable markers work instead of the dry erase? They have the non toxic with scents that the children would also enjoy.

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