For this year’s project, I decided to compose two pieces (one mid-elementary level and one late intermediate level) and give them to my students for Christmas. Here is a peek at how the elementary piece turned out:
Last Saturday, I held the last Piano Party (monthly group class) for the school year. Our theme was to talk about the piano as an instrument: how it makes sound, types of piano, why the piano must be tuned, etc.
Here is a simple worksheet I used at the beginning of class to kick things off:
I allowed students to work alone or in groups to complete this worksheet. I told them they could get up and go to the piano to answer the questions if needed.
I think this worksheet would be a fun activity for a private student’s first lesson as well!
Today, I have a couple of fun freebies for you. :)
First, here is a printable worksheet for beginner piano students. Their task is to label each hand as RH or LH and then label the finger with the ring as #1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. My beginners love completing this quick worksheet!
As I was making this worksheet, it occurred to me that it would be fun to get a plastic diamond ring to use when quizzing students on their finger numbers. Fun little props can add a lot of fun to drills. :)
Then, I decided to make a digital version of this worksheet to use on my iPad with the GoodNotes app. Students can draw on each page in order to label the hand and finger. It’s a quick little activity that can be completed during the lesson.
To download the printable worksheet, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to “Piano Finger Bling worksheet.”
To download the digital PDF worksheet, visit the Printables > For iPad page and look for “Piano Finger Bling.”
Do you have any 4×6 photo frames lying around? It’s time to put one to good use!
This do-it-yourself project will help remind your students about upcoming studio events each time they come for their piano lesson. :)
4×6 photo frame
Printed background (download the free JPG file on the Printables > Other Resources page — scroll down to “Recital Countdown”). When you print, be sure that the image is printing at the actual 100% size.
Directions: Design a background (or print the one I’ve created), insert it into a 4×6 photo frame, write the event & countdown number on the glass with a dry erase marker, and place your new Recital Countdown on/near your piano!
If you watched either video, you probably saw how wonderfully easy it is to use the rhythm fonts. You probably also saw, in the second video, that the non-rhythm fonts are more challenging to use and rather limiting in what they can do.
I have a solution. :)
To make the worksheet-making-process a little bit easier, I recently decided to create photo files (in this case, png files) of various music symbols. Clicking and dragging photo files into a worksheet is much easier than inserting a text box, calling up the font you need, and then locating the music symbol from with the font’s character map. Hooray!
I’m sharing this set of png files for FREE, and I’ve also made another video tutorial about how to get started using them.
To get started, you’ll need to download and unarchive the zip file containing the individual png files on the Printables > Worksheets page. Then, be sure to save the folder of png files to a safe place on your computer so you can use them for years to come. Then, using Microsoft Publisher (or a similar program), you are ready to start creating!
I hope this video helps you get started, but please do let me know if you have other questions. I can’t wait to see what worksheets and other creations you will be able to create using those png files!
Copyright Information: These images are released under a Creative Commons copyright, allowing users to create and sell their own projects that make use of these images. However, the image files themselves should not be freely distributed or sold to others. Instead, please direct others to download the files directly from ColorInMyPiano.com. Thanks!
Before playing the 12-Bar Blues, though, I had them playing the Happy Birthday song as a duet. I created a simple arrangement of the melody in Finale, with the chord symbols included above the staff.
I assigned the younger student to play the melody as written in the treble range of the keyboard, and instructed the other student to create a simple accompaniment by reading the chord symbols.
This was an excellent exercise in learning how to listen to each other! :)
I found out later that two of my students played the Happy Birthday duet for an older sibling’s birthday, a couple days later. What good timing! I think it is great for students to be able to play basic tunes like the Happy Birthday song for their families.
I also wrote an easy arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” but we didn’t have time to use it that day. You can download both arrangements as free pdfs on the Printables > Sheet Music page.
Today, I’m sharing a simple but useful freebie: I call it the Piano Keyboard Printable.
I love using my wooden/foam silent keyboards during group classes (both Piano Readiness or Homeschool Music Classes) and for theory worksheets/activities at my Piano Parties — but sometimes I just want paper, so I designed this printable. I printed and laminated a bunch of these keyboard printables — and I love that I can also print these to send home with students. I like to encourage my Piano Readiness students to play the games from class at home with their parents.
A quick list of a few uses for this piano keyboard diagram printable:
With my Piano Readiness class, I have students “play” the piano on their paper piano. We can learn simple pieces this way in a group setting.
We also play simple games. For example, I hold up a flashcard of Middle C on the staff, and they must put their gem on the corresponding piano key on their keyboard.
There are lots other games you can play using this printable keyboard, like the Spell-A-Keyboard game.
When teaching music theory concepts in group settings, I like to pair the keyboard with a printed/laminated staff. I have students build scales/chords both on their staff and their keyboard at the same time using glass gems, which really helps build the connection between keyboard and staff.
P.S.: The 20% sale in the Color In My Piano shop has been entended for one more day! (And the sale won’t be back until next year!) Use the discount code “YAY4YEARS” by midnight EST on Friday, March 15, 2013.
Every teacher approaches technique exercises a little bit differently. I usually start teaching students 5-finger patterns (aka pentascales) during the first month or two of study. I start by assigning the C Major 5-finger pattern (5FP) and sometimes G Major along with it. Every week or every-other-week, I add a new 5FP to their list, following the Circle of 5ths.
Personally, I don’t teach the theory behind the major 5FP’s until a little bit later (i.e., the pattern of whole and half steps: WWHW). To introduce each 5FP, I let the student figure out what black keys are needed — using their ear. I say: “Today we are going to add the D 5-finger pattern. There is a black key in this 5FP. Do you think you can figure out where the black key needs to be?” The student first plays the 5FP with all white keys, and we discuss that it doesn’t sound right — it doesn’t match the sound of the C and G 5FPs. The student then uses his/her ear and trial-and-error to discover that the 3rd note should be a black key. Now it matches! Leading the student through this kind of discovery makes the learning moment memorable.
The beauty of this approach also is that the student inherently learns the concept of transposition through this moment! The concept of being “in a key” and the concept of transposition between keys is such an integral part of the way music works, but is so often it is neglected until students begin playing scales and learning key signatures. However, after learning just two or three 5FPs, the teacher can easily ask the student to play a few familiar folk tunes by ear in different keys. (See my printable from a couple years back, “Melodies to Play by Ear and Harmonize.”) The student will understand that depending on what note the tune begins, they will need certain black keys in order for the tune to sound “right.” Continue reading “Teaching 5-Finger Patterns (with a Free Worksheet)”→
I was wasn’t planning to design a new music-themed valentine this year — but when inspiration struck, I just had to design it!
Is it a heart, or is it a piano?! Well, it’s both! :)
This design is simpler and easier to assemble than last year’s design. Just cut out the heart shapes! If desired, you can attach a piece of candy to each valentine using a circle of tape. I made a bunch of these to give to my piano students next week.
The free pdf printable can be downloaded by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page, and scrolling down to the P’s for “Piano Valentine Printable 2.” Enjoy!
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.
This weekend, my students and I are preparing to play Christmas pieces at a local church’s “Come To The Stable” event. I reserved an hour on Thursday and Saturday when we are going to play (I will fill whatever time my students don’t use). Our music will serve as the background music as people come and go (open-house style) to admire a beautiful display of nativity sets.
In preparation, I’ve been practicing all my favorite Christmas arrangements – and learning a few new ones, too. I discovered a wonderful free arrangement of “Joy To The World” on James Koerts’ website — take a listen below, and then click here and scroll down to download it yourself!