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, repertoire / methods, Reviews

First Thoughts Regarding Faber’s “My First Piano Adventure”

As big of a fan as I am of Nancy & Randall Faber’s materials for piano students, somehow I’ve never had a chance to try out their “My First Piano Adventure” books — until now.  After trying out this book with a new 5-year-old student last week, I am wondering why in the world didn’t I check this out sooner?!

My First Piano Adventure is designed for young beginners, ages 5 and 6.  I suspect that 4-year-olds would also thrive using this book, and maybe even precocious 3-year-olds — but don’t quote me on that until I’ve had more time to test it out.

The Lesson Book comes with a CD full of fun songs and activities that teach the student about basic technique, how to make different sounds on the piano, and much more.  The CD alone is worth the price of the Lesson Book!!   Parents can play the CD at home or in the car so the student is hearing them all week long.  I bought my own copy to play during lessons — but I also plan to use some of the songs on the CD with my Piano Readiness Classes and Homeschool Music class because they are that good.  :)  Many of the songs involve some pretty creative activities for learning basic piano technique — which is great, because I am always on the lookout for finding effective ways to teach young beginners proper technique. Continue reading “First Thoughts Regarding Faber’s “My First Piano Adventure””

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano

Just Added: Musical Alphabet Cards

There are others who have shared alphabet card printables similar to what I’m posting today, but I’m adding mine to the mix anyway.  :)  I wanted some that would work well to print onto colored cardstock paper.  Since I don’t have a color printer, this is an easy way I can still get colorful things to use with my students!

I used these cards with my new weekly Homeschool Music Class (just started last week, thanks to Sheryl’s recent post at her Notable Music Studio blog) and with my Piano Readiness Class.  My students LOVED making “musical alphabet snakes” in order to learn how the musical alphabet is different from the regular alphabet.  Included in the pdf is a card which outlines some other possible activities to do using the cards.  These activities work great in both group settings and private lessons.

Do you have some other activities to share that involve alphabet cards?  Share them in the comments!

To Download: visit the Printables > Other Resources page and scroll down to the M’s for Musical Alphabet Cards.

  Musical Alphabet Cards (275.9 KiB, 11,393 hits)

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps

DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities

I got the idea for this craft from Kara’s Creative Place blog (thanks for the brilliant idea, Kara!).  Ribbon Rings (Kara’s example is pictured at right) are a fun prop for movement activities with young students during group lessons, camps, or early childhood music classes.  Kids love fluttering the ribbons of these props while they do the motions to various songs.  You can buy similar ribbon rings at musicmotion.com…..or you can make your own!

These ribbon rings are made using the (non-sticky) plastic tape that is found at most hardware stores near the Caution tape.  I did consider using satin ribbon, however, plastic tape is much, much cheaper.  And actually I was pleasantly surprised at the results of using plastic tape.  I like it much better.  Because it’s so light, it flutters in the air so much better than satin ribbon would.  Definitely give it a try before you invest in satin ribbon!   Continue reading “DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities”

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Rhythm

Developing a Good Sense of Rhythm

Developing a good sense of rhythm is one of the most challenging parts of being a piano teacher.  It’s not something that arrives overnight, and it’s something that must be maintained as the student advances to music with more advanced rhythms and time signatures.  It truly is something that must be developed.

I’d like to suggest that there are three components to having and developing what we so loosely refer to as a “good sense of rhythm”:

  1. A sense of beat. This means the ability to maintain a steady beat/pulse.  This is probably the most common and most basic problem that students encounter when it comes to rhythm issues in their piece.  The inability to maintain a steady beat/pulse is crucial for developing #’s 2 and 3 below.
  2. A sense of rhythm (i.e., note values).  This involves being able to accurately identify and execute the various note values within a variety of tempi.  Beginner students may struggle with placing eighth notes within a quarter note beat, while more advanced students may struggle with syncopated rhythms or playing 2 against 3.  It is nearly impossible to develop a sense of rhythm without first developing a sense of beat (#1 above). Continue reading “Developing a Good Sense of Rhythm”
Early Childhood Music, Resources, Rhythm

Babies and Music

Check out this interesting news article, reporting about a research study done on babies and their response to rhythm versus speech.  Here’s the summary from another site reporting on the same research:

Human infants are born to dance, researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Psychologists from the United Kingdom and Finland played an assortment of classical and children’s songs, drumbeats, baby talk, and regular speech for 120 infants ages 5 to 24 months. Speech inspired little motion, but music consistently got the babies into the groove. They moved to music with a clear rhythm and adjusted their movements as the beat varied. And the better the babies matched their motion to the music, the more they smiled. So while it remains a mystery how humans evolved our musical wiring, it’s now clear we enjoy it and always did.  (news.sciencemag.org)

Also see the corresponding video here.

Whether you believe that humans evolved their “musical wiring” or were created with it, this research confirms that humans have some sort of natural inclination towards music, apparent even at the youngest of ages.  It confirms what we as teachers have always known — humans should be developing their musical ability when they are young!

Isn’t it kind of amazing how well those babies in the video have a natural sense of beat?  I wish some of my students could keep a steady beat half as well as the babies in the video!  =D

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Resources

Early Childhood Music Online Resources

I’ve been digging around online lately, looking for early childhood music resources.  (Yes, I’m sorry – I’m still on this kick!)

Look what I found!  TONS of great links:

Songs / Sheet Music

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Music Camps, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

Teaching 2-Against-3 Using Movement

In answer to a question a received last week, I thought I’d talk a little bit more about teaching 2 against 3, as I had mentioned in a post about teaching music through movement.

To tell you the truth, I have not needed to teach 2 against 3 very often so far, and when I have, it’s been in private piano lesson settings.  In the past, I’ve used a purely theoretical approach (similar to the method described in this article and this article) to teaching the concept, using tapping of the RH and LH, and have been only mildly successful.

However, I have experienced another method that works.  During my undergrad, I took a Dalcroze Eurhythmics course, and we went over a number of different meter and rhythm concepts, including the issue of 2 against 3.  Although I already understood the concept of 2 against 3 prior to that class, it was quite revealing to look at it from the perspective of movement.   Continue reading “Teaching 2-Against-3 Using Movement”

Early Childhood Music, improving as a teacher, Resources

Music & Movement: Inseparable!

One of the reasons I’ve been considering offering early childhood music classes is because I am a firm believer in the strong relationship between music and movement.  As an undergrad, I took two semester of Dalcroze Eurhythmics which I found incredibly useful.  We learned movements that fit different meters and learned to respond expressively to music through our movements.  I think students would have a much easier time developing a good sense of beat and rhythm if they could learn it naturally through movement.  Even complex concepts such as 3 against 2 seem more natural when approached through movement rather than a purely theoretical approach.

Besides, movement is fun!  =)

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwanie/ / CC BY 2.0

Announcements, Early Childhood Music

Early Childhood Music Classes

Lately, I’ve been considering offering pre-piano music classes for children and their parents — someday, when I have a private studio in my home again (Right now, I teach piano privately through my university’s community music school.).  My goal in providing these classes someday is to better prepare young children (think ages 0-5, especially) for private piano lessons.  So, this semester, I enrolled in an Early Childhood Music class to learn about the various methodologies (such as Orff, Kodaly, Gordon, Feierabend, etc.) for teaching music to young children.

I’m excited to think about starting up these classes someday.  Here’s some things I’m been thinking about…

Things to consider:

  1. Location/space – large, open room.
  2. Parents’ presence – required or not?
  3. Materials – songbooks, musical instruments, colored scarves, rugs, cd player, etc.
  4. Class size – six to ten, perhaps?
  5. Ages – 0-18 mo., 18 mo.-3 yrs, 3-5 yrs.
  6. Class duration – 30, 45, 50, or 55 minutes.
  7. Sessions – 7- or 14-week sessions.
  8. Goals – music literacy; musical experience; aural development; building the parents’ & children’s repertoire of music to share in the home; music as expression; building of pre-piano skills; etc.

Types of Activities:

  • Songs with motions
  • Listening & responding with movement (classical, folk, jazz, pop, etc.)
  • Fingerplays
  • Chants
  • Musical games
  • Other activities

I think these classes will be fun!  And I’m hoping that introducing  such classes will give my beginner piano students a head start once they begin private lessons.  Has anyone offered similar classes in their piano studios before?  I’d love to hear about it.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/89186997@N00/ / CC BY 2.0