Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Learning Theory

Group Class Ventures with Music Learning Theory (MLT)

Since taking the Piano Certification Course through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML) last August, I have been slowly but surely working towards integrating Music Learning Theory (MLT) principles into my teaching approach.

Much of this integration is subtle at this point and yet, it is having a definite impact on my students.

I’ve also had the opportunity to experiment more directly with an MLT-based teaching approach in a couple of new group music classes I’ve been offering over the past few months.

The first opportunity arose when one of my piano parents asked if I might consider doing some kind of group music class with her two piano students as well as three of her other children who take lessons in guitar, flute, and violin. She was interested in her kids receiving additional help with rhythm, theory, and more, to support their private lessons. I told her more about the GIML training I received and how I felt it would be ideal for her kids and that I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to experiment more with this approach. So, now I’m teaching a weekly 30-minute group music class (not geared towards piano playing) with 5 siblings between the ages of 7 and 12. Afterwards, I give the two piano students their private lessons.

The second opportunity arose when a local violin teacher reached out to me asking about lessons for her 4-year-old son. Ultimately, we settled on having a weekly 30-minute group class with her son as well as her two other young children. The five of us are exploring music together using the Music Play early childhood music curriculum as the basis.

So far with both classes, I’ve been loosely following the lesson plan outline that Marilyn Lowe suggests in her Keyboard Games (KG) books (see image below). I’m pulling songs and rhythm chants from her KG books, Music Play, and the ECMC Songs and Chants Without Words, Book One.

Continue reading “Group Class Ventures with Music Learning Theory (MLT)”

Early Childhood Music, Printables

Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards

There are quite a few places you can download and print free music note-naming flashcards.  Anne Crosby’s website and Susan Paradis’ website come to mind, for example.  However, I recently realized that I wanted a set of jumbo-sized cards, to use with my Piano Readiness classes.

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I can hold up these jumbo-sized cards during class and my young students can still see the note on the staff.  Young beginners or students with disabilities may also benefit from having jumbo-sized flashcards.

I color-coded my flashcards according to the range of notes.  I printed the Middle C position notes on green paper, the next few notes up to Treble C and down to Bass C on yellow paper, and the next notes up to High C and Low C (ledger lines) on blue paper.

You can download this FREE pdf on the Printables > Other Resources page, under “Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards.”

  Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards (459.7 KiB, 25,356 hits)

Yesterday, I asked for your favorite game ideas involving note-naming flashcards.  I can’t wait to try out some of your ideas — keep ’em coming!

Early Childhood Music

Finger Number Beanbag Game

Pinterest is wonderful, isn’t it?  :)

While browsing Pinterest, I was inspired by this picture by the blogger Becki Lewis.  Becki’s Finger Number Beanbag Game is a simple but very effective game for young beginner piano students.

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Students stand in front of the mat and drop the beanbag.  Then, they name the finger the beanbag landed closest to, and correctly identify RH or LH.  I tried this game out with my Piano Readiness Class, and they enjoyed it!  It is a quick, easy activity that effectively reviews the hands/fingers.

Becki used a marker and a piece of cardboard to draw the outline of two hands.  I designed a printable on the computer to use with my students, and Becki gave me permission to share the printable with you here: visit the Printables > Games page, and scroll down to the F’s for “Finger Number Beanbag Game.”  I laminated the two pages and taped them together, so that they fold for easy storage.  Enjoy!

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables

Grand Staff Pass Game

I’m back!  I took a long blogging break over the holidays, but I’m super excited to be back and I have lots of things to share in the upcoming weeks!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years’.

Today, I am excited to share with you about a fun game I came up with for my students’ Piano Party last Saturday:

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“Grand Staff Pass” is a activity for finding and naming notes on the grand staff.  Each student has a printed grand staff in front of them, and must find the notes as indicated on the cards.  The cards are passed to the next student, going counterclockwise around the room.   Continue reading “Grand Staff Pass Game”

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps

Floor Staff Activity: Introduction to the Grand Staff

Remember last February when I created this DIY floor staff?  I thought I’d share a little activity that shows how I used it recently with my Piano Readiness Class.

(Don’t mind my cat, Coda, who totally photo-bombed this photo.  :)

The two students I was working with have already learned to identify high and low sounds when we sing or listen to music, and can recognize the treble and bass clef symbols.  I showed them the floor staff (which they were totally excited about), and asked them to count the number lines and spaces with me.  I demonstrated that notes can either be line notes or space notes.  Then, I put the treble clef and bass clef on the floor staff, for high and low sounds.

After that introduction, I handed each student a foam disc (you can find these in the craft section at many stores) and gave them two directions: (1) line or space note, and (2) high or low note.  After placing notes on the staff in this way for a while, they realized there were also “middle” notes, so we started doing that too.  Then we started doing it backwards: I asked them to put a note anywhere they wanted, and to tell me whether it was a line/space note and whether it was high/middle/low.

This turned out to be a fun little activity for introducing the staff to a couple of four-year-olds!  The next step will be to associate the alphabet names to the lines and spaces.  :)

Early Childhood Music, Games

Printable: Black Key Group Sorting Cards

A new free Printable has been added to the Printables page:

These cards are a great manipulative to use with young beginners when you are first introducing them to the keyboard.  Students can use the cards to build a keyboard on the floor, alternating the groups of 2 and 3 black keys.  Or, students can use these at the piano, and lay the cards right on the piano keyboard, matching the groups of black keys appropriately.   I printed a few sets of these cards, laminated them, and put them in zipper bags.  This short activity is great for Piano Readiness Classes.

There are two versions included in the pdf: one with the letter names on the keys, and one without.  To download this free pdf, visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to the B’s for “Black Key Group Sorting Cards.”  Enjoy!

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Resources

Fingerplay Puppets

Thanks to Pinterest, I recently came across a blogger who designed some charming little finger puppets to go along with a few fingerplay songs she enjoys singing with her son!  Her name is Kate, from the picklebums.com blog, and she generously offers each of the printables pictured below for free.  I assembled a set of her beautiful finger puppets for my 4-year-old nephew as a birthday gift last month, and made myself a set, too, to use with my Piano Readiness class.

One of my all-time favorite fingerplays ever is Five Little Speckled Frogs (click for link to Kate’s puppet printable).  I discovered this fingerplay during an Early Childhood Music course I took during graduate school.

Continue reading “Fingerplay Puppets”

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables

Instruments of the Orchestra Study – FREE Orchestra Stage Pieces

With my music homeschool class, we have been studying the instruments of the orchestra.  We started this endeaver a long time ago, starting with completing the Musical Instruments Workbook.  We have also used Robert Levine’s book: The Story of the Orchestra, and frequently played this review game for remembering the names/families of the instruments.

When I found this “stand-up symphony” download from the St. Louis Symphony website, I knew this would be another great way to review the instruments — as well to as learn where the members of the orchestra sit onstage.

This was such a fun class project!  Over the course of a couple of months, we cut out the figures, colored them, and then folded/taped them so they could stand.  Continue reading “Instruments of the Orchestra Study – FREE Orchestra Stage Pieces”

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Printables

Freebie: Signs for Beginner Piano

Over the last few months, I’ve created a collection of signs to use with my Piano Readiness and Homeschool Music classes:

I use them during class when I am teaching or reviewing concepts.  They can be useful for games too.  For example, I like to have students hold up or point to the correct symbol while I improvise high/low or loud/soft music on the piano.  I printed them on cardstock and laminated them to make them more durable.

There are other ways to use these signs:  They can be printed for beginner private students to keep as a reference.  Or, they can be hung up in on the wall in your studio.

You can download the pdf by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page and scrolling down to the S’s for “Signs for Beginner Piano.”  I hope you can find some way to use these with your students!

Early Childhood Music, Music Theory, Worksheets

Treble & Bass Clef Dot-To-Dot Worksheets

Here’s a new worksheet I just added to the Printables page:

To teach my beginner students how to draw and recognize the treble and bass clef, I created this pair of dot-to-dot worksheets for the treble and bass clefs.  The dots and numbers are nice and big for little eyes to see!

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the T’s for “Treble & Bass Clef Dot-To-Dot Worksheets.”

Enjoy!

  Treble & Bass Clef Dot-To-Dot Worksheets (68.0 KiB, 23,746 hits)

Ear Training, Early Childhood Music, Performances, Printables

Listening Sheet for Young Students

As I mentioned last week, during my recent Piano Party/recital rehearsal I gave a listening sheet to my young beginners to complete as they listened to their fellow students perform.  Here’s what it looked like:

I put each sheet in a plastic sheet protector and gave them a dry erase marker with a piece of felt so they could re-use the sheet for each piece they heard.  It worked pretty well — my students were very attentive and really liked telling me about what they circled between pieces!

This worksheet would also work well for private lessons or group classes with beginner students to use while listening to recordings — like Carnival of the Animals, or whatever.

I do wish the sheet protector cleaned off a little better.  The ones I used have kind of a matte surface…maybe I need to get some of the thicker, shiny ones?  Or try laminating?

Anyway, my students really enjoyed this listening sheet!  I found the clip art on some various public domain clip art sites.  You could easily design your own the same way.  Or if you’d like to download mine, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the L’s for “Listening Sheet for Young Students.”

P.S.:  As requested, I added a page to the Rhythm Value Cards pdf: three beamed eighth note cards for use in compound time signatures.  (Thanks for catching that, Bee!)