Ear Training, Games, Group Classes, Rhythm

Swat-A-Rhythm Game (With Variations)

At last Saturday’s Piano Party with my students, we played a fun game that I call the Swat-A-Rhythm game.  I have seen many variations of this game on various forums and websites, so I am not sure who to credit with the original idea.  In any case, I will describe the way I played this game with my students.  :)  I also have some ideas for varying the game for concepts besides rhythm — such as notes, intervals, melodies, and terms.

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Swat-A-Rhythm Game (& Variations­)

Materials:

  • A fly swatter for each student.  My local Dollar Tree store is currently selling some colorful fly swatters for 2/$1.00.
  • 5-8 different cards with rhythm examples.  (If you don’t already have some, I have a pdf of rhythm cards available for purchase here in my shop.
  • Bug cards (optional), for keeping track of points.

Gameplay:

Spread the rhythm cards out on the floor, within reach of each player.  After the teacher finishes clapping the rhythm on one of the cards, the first student to swat the correct card earns a bug card.  The player with the most bugs at the end of the game is the winner.  (Note: You may wish to stress that anyone who swats before the teacher finishes clapping the rhythm cannot win the point.)

I’ve created a free pdf with the bug cards and game instructions.  You can download it on the Printables > Games page, by scrolling down to the S’s for Swat-A-Rhythm Game.

It is sometimes challenging to come up with good aural-based games, but I think this one is a winner!  My students had fun with the colorful fly swatters, and the game provided an incentive to listen closely to the rhythm.

Variations:

  • Swat-A-Note – The teacher calls out a letter of the musical alphabet, and students must swat the flashcard with the correct note on the staff.  Or, do it backwards: Hold up a staff note-naming flashcard, and students swat cards that say A, B, C, D, E, F, or G.  (If you need some alphabet cards, click here.)
  • Swat-A-Piano-Key – After the teacher calls out a letter, students swat the corresponding piano key flashcard.  Or, the teacher holds up a piano key flashcard and students swat cards that say A, B, C, D, E, F, or G.  (If you need some piano key cards, click here.)
  • Swat-An-Interval – After the teacher plays an interval on the piano, the students swat the interval card they heard.
  • Swat-A-Melody – Cut a short piece of sheet music into two-measure pieces.  The teacher plays random sections on the piano, and students must swat which two-measure section they heard.
  • Swat-A-Term — After the teacher reads a definition of a musical term, students must swat the card with the correct term.

I hope your students enjoy this fun, versatile game!

Games, Group Classes, Music Theory, Printables

Ice Cream Interval game

Check out the newest item added to the ColorInMyPiano Shop!

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Being able to read notes on the staff intervallically is crucial for sight-reading.  I like to tell my students that reading music is at least 80% interval reading, and only 20% note identification.  To help my students learn to identify intervals quickly upon sight, I created the Ice Cream Interval game.   Continue reading “Ice Cream Interval game”

Games, Group Classes

March 2013 Piano Party

Last Saturday was another monthly Piano Party day for my students!

As we waited for everyone to arrive, the students competed two worksheets:  a lines vs. spaces worksheet from Fun & Learn Music, and an intervals worksheet from my Printables page.

I always have students go around the room to introduce themselves, just in case they’ve forgotten each other’s names and so they can learn the names of any new students.  I like to have them share fun facts about themselves along with their name, so it doesn’t get too serious.  :)  This time, I had them share their favorite flavor of ice cream.

Our first game was called, “Floor Staff Race.”  It is based on this game I read about at pianimation.com, but instead of using “Step/Skip” and “Up/Down” cards, I decided to make dice.  Here’s how the game works:

Each student chooses a beanie animal.  The goal is to race from the bottom of the staff to the top of the staff.  On their turn, they roll the dice and follow the directions to go either up/down by a 2nd/3rd.  Whoever reaches to top of the staff first is the winner!

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Continue reading “March 2013 Piano Party”

Group Classes, Music History

More Details About My Homeschool Music History Class

DSC_20121005_173751I have been receiving TONS of questions about my homeschool Music History Classes lately, so I decided to write a post that explains more about how I started and currently run the class.

You may recall that my husband and I moved from Michigan to Ohio about a year-and-a-half ago.  Starting up a new studio from scratch takes time, and there is a business strategy that says: “Diversify your income.”  I had been wanting to reach out to the home-school community for awhile already (Fun fact: did you know I was home-schooled for 5 years of my education growing up?).  :)  When I saw Sheryl Welles’s idea (see her blog here) about having a Music Appreciation/Music History class for home-schoolers, I decided I wanted to try to start one, too!

After some online research, I discovered that the home-schooling families in my area have a Yahoo group where they chat and stay in touch about upcoming events.  I joined the Yahoo group and posted some information about the classes I want to start.  I received only one reply, from a family with three children.  Those three children were the entire class for quite awhile, and eventually two more joined.

I decided to hold each class for 50 minutes, so that I could have 10 minutes to put everything away afterwards and still have time to start a private lesson at the next hour if I wanted to.

At first, I taught short lessons about a new composer every week, but soon realized that this was not enough time to give the composer justice — and the students were not absorbing the information well enough.  When I would review information from previous weeks, they would get the composers mixed up.  That is when I decided to format my curriculum into lapbooks.   Using the lapbooks, we cover a new composer every three weeks.  (My music history curriculum “Great Composers & Their Music” is currently available for purchase in my Shop at $10 per composer.)

We generally spend about 20-25 minutes each class working on the lapbooks while I read the biography and play musical excerpts by the composer.  The rest of the class time is spent doing a variety of activities.  I plan worksheets or games that cover rhythm, aural, or theory concepts that are appropriate to the students’ current music knowledge.  I write weekly lesson plans, so that I can easily look back and plan ahead.

As you already know, I often create my own games and worksheets and share them here on my blog.  :)  But I do often use materials created by other teachers, too.  The two resources I have been using the most recently are pianimation.com and susanparadis.com.  If you don’t already know about these two websites, you should definitely check them out now!

If you have other questions about my homeschool music class, please leave a comment below this post!

Games, Group Classes

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.comContinue reading “February 2013 Piano Party”

Games, Group Classes, Printables, seasonal / holiday

January 2013 Piano Party!

Last Saturday, I held another Piano Party for my students.  I had record attendance: 14 students!  Here’s a run-down of what we did:

We introduced ourselves, and shared our favorite Christmas present this year.

Christmas Recital and Name-That Tune game.  Yes, I know Christmas is over!  Because of how busy December often can be, I decided to try scheduling our students-only Christmas recital in early January instead.  Besides, students always play their Christmas pieces through the break anyway, so they might as well do the recital after that!

I took advantage of the fact that my students would be playing familiar tunes, and held a name-that-tune game.  I gave each student the worksheet below, and they had to write down the titles as they heard them.  If they got it correct, they got to color in the star on the right, in order to keep track of how many they guessed correctly.  This was a huge hit!  Even the students who didn’t know very Christmas tunes were able to learn some new ones by the end.

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You can download the Name-That-Tune worksheet by visiting the Printables > Games page and scrolling down to “Name-That-Tune – Christmas Edition.” Continue reading “January 2013 Piano Party!”

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”

Games, Group Classes

December 2012 Piano Party

A week from last Saturday, I held another piano party with my students.  Unfortunately, I neglected to take photos AGAIN, despite the fact that my camera was ready within reach.  Bummer!  :)

Here is a list of the activities we did during our hour-and-a-half together:

  1. Music Jenga (as students arrive)
  2. BANG rhythm game – as I described more fully in a previous post.
  3. Musical Truth or Dare – This is a new game by Jennifer Fink from Pianimation.com.  It worked really well for my multi-level group of students because she has provided three different levels of cards.  I used Levels 1 and 2 with my students.  To put a holiday twist on this activity, I put the Level 1 cards in a santa hat and the Level 2 cards in an elf hat (hats were bought at the dollar store a few years ago).  My students loved this game and asked to play it again next month! DSC_20121213_110219
  4. Carol Dictation Worksheet – This worksheet is also by Jennifer Fink.  Students worked on their own to notate the rhythm of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”
  5. Student performances – I allowed each student to play a piece or two that they are working on.
  6. Debussy lapbook – This lapbook will be available in the ColorInMyPiano shop sometime in January!

I always try to hit on a variety of skills during these group classes, and we sure did this time!  We covered terminology, rhythm, dictation (aural skills), performing, and music history!

Games, Group Classes, Printables, Rhythm

Bang! Rhythm Game

On Pinterest, I saw an idea for a sight-word game called BANG and decided it would make an excellent music game.  Here is my musical version:

I tried it out with my students at our Piano Party last Saturday, and it was a hit.  The BANG! cards add an element of fun to an otherwise ordinary flashcard drill. Continue reading “Bang! Rhythm 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.  :)

Group Classes, Music Camps, Music History

4 New Composer Lapbooks

Over the past week, I have added four new Great Composers & Their Music lapbook studies to the Color In My Piano shop!

The first one is John Cage.  I mentioned this lapbook before, when I blogged about my October Piano Party.  I think this composer study was my favorite one to teach so far!  It was so fun to teach students about Cage’s ingenuity as a composer.  As an extension, we explored the room to find “found instruments,” and experimented with prepared piano.  (No, I didn’t bring screws or bolts anywhere near my piano…but we did try laying pieces of felt and tinfoil on the strings/dampers to see what sounds we could create!).

Continue reading “4 New Composer Lapbooks”

Group Classes, Music History

My October Piano Party

Last week, I blogged a little about my first “Piano Party” — the first of hopefully many more group classes I hold for my students!  On Friday, I held our 2nd Piano Party for October.

I was so glad to observe my students greeting each other by name as they arrived.  They recognized each other from the camps I held this past summer and from the previous piano party.  Piano study can seem like such a solitary endeavor, but having group classes can help make it less so (which can be very motivating for some students).  I am so pleased to see one of my goals for group classes already being met!

Anyway, let me tell you about how our group class went on Friday:

Continue reading “My October Piano Party”