Games

Scrabble Tiles in the Studio: Music Crossword Project

I just thought I’d share this idea my students and I are enjoying.

Some years back, I used to run an Etsy shop selling handcrafted items. Among the things I crafted, I used to make Christmas ornaments using Scrabble tiles. I still have a ton of tiles from games I purchased for $2 at the thrift store, now just waiting for a fun purpose.

Recently, I had the idea of putting out the tiles out in my studio. When students arrive early for their lessons or wait during a sibling’s lesson, I invite them to add a musical term or composer name to our crossword. They are loving this!

It’s fun to see how the crossword grows from week to week, and which music-related words they choose.

If you want to do this in your studio, all you need are a couple of Scrabble games (you can always sort out the tiles back out into separate games again afterwards) and some table space. I also put out a few music dictionaries, for word inspiration.

I’ll probably leave this out for a month or two, and then set it out again next year.

What other fun activity ideas have you used for your studio waiting room area?

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By the way, here’s another use for Scrabble tiles in the studio:

In my game drawers, I also keep a black drawstring bag of Scrabble tiles containing only the letters of the musical alphabet. I use the tiles as a way for students to randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet during games such as The Amazing Keyboard Race, or deciding which scale to play that day. Students can also sort the tiles onto the piano keys.

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I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Games, Rhythm

Game: Which Rhythm Pattern Do You Hear?

Today, I thought I’d share about a quick and fun rhythm game I’ve been using lately with some of my younger students.

Game: Which Rhythm Pattern Do You Hear?

  1. Choose two animal erasers.
  2. The teacher creates two rhythm patterns using these free cards, laying out each one by an animal eraser.
  3. The teacher chants one of the two rhythm patterns and asks the student: Which animal’s rhythm pattern did you hear?
  4. Repeat with new rhythm patterns.
  5. If the student is ready for it, next try having the teacher and the student switch roles.

I like this activity because it keeps the focus on the SOUND of the rhythm patterns and because the only notation-related skill that is required is recognition. When switching roles, of course, the student is then required to create and perform notated rhythm patterns.

If you use Irina Gorin’s method book or if you want to keep things simpler, you can use Othello chips instead of rhythm value cards.

And if you are working with a small group of students, here is an idea for variating the game:

  1. Each student notates a rhythm pattern, with an animal eraser sitting near it.
  2. Whoever is “it” randomly chooses a pattern and chants it for the group.
  3. The rest of the students identify which animal’s pattern was heard.

Have fun!

Games, Rhythm

Rhythm Activities with Othello Chips

Since attending Irina Gorin’s summer workshop for piano teachers in 2015, her “Tales of a Musical Journey” has become one of my favorite piano method books to use with beginners.

In her book, she uses black circles and white circles to represent simple rhythms in duple meter. (Duple meter is MLT’s term for when the macrobeat [big beats] contains two microbeats [little beats].)

Here is an example of Irina teaching with the black and white circles.

It’s easy to cut black and white circles out of paper, but I’ve also been using Othello chips. They are perfect for this because they are black on one side and white on the other. I found a used Othello game at a thrift shop for $2 a couple of years ago, and have been using the chips for rhythm games on the floor with my beginner students.

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These chips can be used in any rhythm game where you might normally use rhythm value cards. Here are a few quick examples:

  • The teacher notates two simple rhythm patterns (4 macrobeats in length), chants one of the patterns, and asks the student to identify which pattern they heard.
  • Notate simple rhythm patterns and chant them together.
  • Chant simple rhythms (perhaps using simple poetry) and notate them together.

The Othello chips also work great with a cloth staff/keyboard, which means the rhythms could be notated on the staff. There are many of fun uses for these chips! Let me know in the comments below if you have other ideas.

Games, Videos

Video: Playing the Ice Cream Interval Game

During a recent lesson, I used my Ice Cream Interval Game — one of my favorite games for piano teaching — to reinforce and improve my student’s visual recognition of the intervals unison, second, third, fourth, and fifth in staff notation. Today, I thought I’d share a three-minute video clip of the activity.

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Here is what you’ll see in the video:

  • 0:00 When playing this game with my students, sometimes I like to hand-pick certain cards from the pile for the student to sort next, in order to build success. First, I made sure Emma could easily distinguish 2nds versus 3rds.
  • 0:10 Then, I gave Emma a card showing a 4th on the keyboard, and then a 5th on the keyboard. After that, I start giving her 4ths and 5ths notated on the staff.
  • 0:12 I like to ask the question: “How many notes are being skipped over?” I have found that this is a more effective strategy leading to being able to quickly recognize intervals on the staff upon sight, as opposed to allowing students to count all of the steps within an interval (for example, counting “1-2-3-4-5” for a 5th).
  • 1:00 I point out to Emma that 5ths look like triads except that the middle note has been removed.
  • 1:18 I encourage Emma to try to recognize the intervals on sight, instead of immediately resorting to counting the steps within the interval.
  • 1:44 Emma enjoys taking note of which cone has the most ice cream scoops so far. Students often comment on this during the game, because it’s fun! Emma does it again at the end of the video.
  • 2:08 Emma is beginning to recognize the various intervals upon sight, as evidenced by the increased amount of ease and decreased amount of time she uses while sorting the cards.

The Ice Cream Interval Game is available in my shop as a digital PDF download here. To read more of my thoughts regarding the important role of interval recognition during sight-reading, check out this post. Thanks for watching!

Games

Drawers for Organizing Music Games

Last year, I blogged about the drawer system I use for organizing my music games. It so important to be able to easily find the needed teaching materials during lessons!

Since moving last summer, I ended up updating my drawer categories somewhat. This drawer unit is from IKEA, by the way.

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I’m always tweaking my organization system, but as of now, the six drawer categories are:

  1. Props/Improv — Japanese puzzle erasers, various props for teaching hand shape, Rory’s Story CubesFlashcards for Composition/Improvisation, etc.
  2. Rhythmrhythm cards, Rhythm Train Game, Rhythmic Value Cards, etc.
  3. Alphabet — this includes piano key identification cards, Scrabble tiles (A-G only), alphabet spinners, alphabet dice, etc.
  4. Notes — musical alphabet word cards, note-naming flashcards, etc.
  5. Intervals — Ice Cream Interval game, interval cards, etc.
  6. Keys — key signature flashcards/dice, key props and printables, and anything related to chords.

In another room, I keep a few drawers of games that only work for groups of students. I pull those games out when I hold my Piano Parties (monthly group classes).

Whatever your system, the most important thing is to be able to find what you need, when you need it! :)

Games, Group Classes

Easter Egg Matching Music Game

Earlier this week, I blogged about my April 2015 studio class “Piano Party.” We concluded our Piano Party with a new game, which I created based on a teacher’s idea posted in the Piano Teacher FunMakers group on facebook.

The game is simple: buy a package of plastic easter eggs and draw music symbols and terms on each half with a paint pen (permanent marker will rub off over time). Students are supposed to mix up and then match together the halves.

I did not have any plastic easter eggs in the house, so I asked my husband to buy some on clearance when he went to the grocery store. He came home with these really interesting ones from Meijer that break into three sections…!

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At first, I wasn’t sure if they were going to work well for my game, but then I realized that having three separate parts for each egg could work out to my advantage. On each part of the egg, I wrote a music symbol, the meaning, and the Italian music term.

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Having three parts to match into an egg makes the game more challenging. My students enjoyed working together for this game at my Piano Party.

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I’m going to leave this game out in my waiting room for awhile. When students arrive, they will enjoy matching a few eggs before their lessons.

Reviews, Technology

App Review & Giveaway: Music Flash Class

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.44.33 PMMusic Flash Class ($3.99) — for iPhone/iPad.

Music Flash Class is an app developed by a piano teacher Henry Flurry.  It has been around for a couple of years now, but an update for iOS 8 was recently released.  The new layout looks good!

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Music Flash Class is an interactive note identification app.  The settings offer a myriad of options to customize the experience.  I love that you can chose to show or hide the timer.  And that you to choose a particular range of notes to practice.  Teachers can even customize and save their own “decks” of notes. Continue reading “App Review & Giveaway: Music Flash Class”

Games, Group Classes

November 2014 Piano Party & Heartbeat Chart Printable

The day after Halloween, I held a Piano Party (monthly group class) with my students.  I took advantage of the holiday to have a Fall/Halloween theme and invited students to wear their Halloween costumes if desired.

We began, as always, by watching a video on YouTube.  This time, I picked Jarrod Radnich’s transcription of the Harry Potter movie music, which fit well with our theme.  We spent a few minutes afterwards discussing transcription/arranging and remarking on how much practicing Mr. Radnich must have done!  ;)

By the way, my husband surprised me with a projector as a birthday gift back in June.  The projector has been a fun teaching tool for camps and group classes.  (And it is essentially serving as our TV because we don’t own a TV.)   Before I had the projector, I showed videos at group classes on my laptop or by holding up my iPad Mini.

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Rhythm Dictation Activity

At every Piano Party, I make it a priority to do at least one rhythm activity.  I found a really cool idea for rhythm dictation activity at the “O For Tuna” blog.  Being the do-it-yourself-er that I am, I designed my own rhythm slides and “heartbeat charts.”

Here is how the activity works: Each student is given a heartbeat chart and some game tokens.  The teacher claps/chants a prepared rhythm and asks the students to repeat it back together a couple of times.  Once they have internalized the rhythm, the teacher asks them to notate the rhythm on their heartbeat charts using game tokens.  (A single token placed in a heart represents a quarter note.  Two tokens within a heart represents beamed eighth notes.  A blank heart represents a quarter rest.)  The teacher walks around the room and provides feedback for students as they work.  After a certain amount of time, the teacher describes or displays the correct answer and allows students to self-correct their work as necessary.

For game tokens, I like to use glass gems available in the floral section at the craft stores.  Anything goes, though — maybe some holiday-themed erasers would be fun!

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I can see this activity becoming a new staple in my group classes.  I love the way this activity helps students make the ear-eye connection between how a rhythm sounds and how it looks.

Continue reading “November 2014 Piano Party & Heartbeat Chart Printable”

Games

New in the Shop: Ice Cream Intervals Extension Pack

I know it’s been quiet around the blog lately!  Last summer was one of those summers where I said “yes” to too many commitments and over-extended myself.  I’m actually quite relieved to be in a “normal” Fall teaching schedule.  Recently, I’ve been wrapping up a few projects which I hope will allow me to blog on a somewhat more regular basis!

This weekend, I found a little bit of time for a little project suggested by a reader.  She requested that I create an “extension pack” for the Ice Cream Intervals game that would provide harmonic (blocked) intervals to add to the original melodic (broken) intervals.  Why didn’t I think of that?!  What a great idea!  (Thanks, Morgan!)

So, here is a peek:

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It’s important for students to become fluent at recognizing relationships between notes whether the intervals are harmonic or melodic, because that is what happens in the music they are learning.  With the addition of the new harmonic cards, my students’ favorite game just became even more beneficial for them.  ;)

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For $4, you can purchase the extension pack which nearly doubles the amount of ice cream scoops by providing 48 harmonic (blocked) intervals to add the original melodic (broken) intervals.  The intervals in the Extension Pack range from “2nd” to “octave.”  (Please note that no cones are provided in the Extension Pack, so you won’t want to purchase it unless you also have the original Ice Cream Intervals game. )  Remember, all the items in my shop are digital products — meaning, you are buying the PDF so that you can print and assemble it yourself.

For more info, visit the Ice Cream Intervals Game page in the Shop.

Games, Studio Business

Organizing Games

One of the questions that arose during the presentation about music games (see the handout here) that I gave last week for the Summit County OMTA chapter and at the 2014 MusicEdConnect.com conference was…

How do you organize your games?

You may remember some months back when I blogged about finding this little filing cabinet at a second-hand store.  Here is how I decided to use all those wonderful drawers:

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Those drawers contain materials for games that can be played during private lessons with students.  It sits next to me where I teach at the piano.  The six drawers are currently categorized:

  1. Office Supplies — colored pens, Post-It notes, notepads, etc.
  2. Props/Improv [pictured below] — Japanese puzzle erasers, various props for teaching hand shape, Rory’s Story Cubes (thanks goes to a reader who recently sent me the “Action” set from my Amazon wishlist!), and the Flashcards for Composition/Improvisation.
  3. Rhythmrhythm cards, Rhythm Train Game, Rhythmic Value Cards, etc.
  4. Note I.D.musical alphabet word cards, spinners, note-naming flashcards, etc.
  5. Intervals/KeysIce Cream Interval game, keys, key signature flashcards, etc.
  6. Dry Erase Markers — At group classes, we use dry erase markers and mini erasers frequently for our listening sheets.

You’ll notice that these categories align with the concepts listed in the handout.  Games are most effective when we are choosing them in terms of the concepts they teach our students.

Here is the Props/Improv drawer:

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In the little black drawstring bag, I have a set of Scrabble tiles containing only the letters of the musical alphabet.  I bought my Scrabble game used at Goodwill.  I use the tiles as another way for students to randomly choose a letter of the musical alphabet (we sometimes use a spinner instead).  They work great for The Amazing Keyboard Race, for example.  Students can also sort the tiles onto the piano keys.

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In the drawers across the room, I store my floor staff and the games that work only for group classes. 

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Please feel free to share in the comments about your organizational system!

P.S.:  The live sessions may be over, but it’s not too late to register for the 2014 MusicEdConnect.com conference and have the opportunity to watch the session videos on your own time.  Visit their website for more info.

Games

Games Handout

I recently gave presentations about music games to the Summit County OhioMTA and the MusicEdConnect.com conference.  I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in seeing the handout, which I have posted here on my personal website, joymorin.com.  The links in the handout all lead directly to the games and printables being discussed. Enjoy!

Preview:

Building Musicianship Through Games & Activities

by Joy Morin

INTRODUCTION:

  • Why use games?
  • When to use games?

*  *  *  *  *

PART I:  Considering the facets and goals of a teacher’s Teaching Philosophy.

The Teaching Philosophy states (1) the teacher’s GOALS for him-/her-self and the students, as well as, (2) HOW the teacher will lead students to achieve those goals.

Comprehensive musicianship involves:

  • Sight-Reading
  • Rhythm
  • Music Theory
  • Music History
  • Playing/Harmonizing by Ear
  • Improvisation/Composition
  • Memorization
  • Effective Practicing

PART II:   Examples of games and activities that will help you accomplish the goals in your Teaching Philosophy.

Concept: MUSICAL ALPHABET

  1. Musical Alphabet Card Snakes – Students sort their cards in order and say musical alphabet forwards/backwards.  Have students identify which card is missing.

Concept: KEYBOARD TOPOGRAPHY

  1. Black Key Sorting Cards – Build the keyboard using these cards.
  2. Find That Piano Key game – Ask student to play 3 different C’s, etc.  Can be played in a Round Robin version with a pair or group of students.  Use spinner or alphabet dice.  Can be done on the keyboard or on a paper keyboard in groups.
  3. Amazing Keyboard Race – You need a game token for each player and a way to randomly choose letters of the musical alphabet (Scrabble tiles, spinner, or dice). Play it at the piano or use a paper keyboard. On your turn, get a random letter and move your token to that key.  Take turns and race to get to the top.
  4. Spell-A-Keyboard game – Works great on the piano, a paper keyboard, or a floor keyboard (chalk outside).  Students spell the words from the cards by marking the corresponding piano keys.  Works great in the lesson or in small group settings.

Read the rest here!

Games

New Facebook Group: Piano Teacher FunMakers

Susan Paradis recently created a brand new group on Facebook called, “Piano Teacher FunMakers.”  It is a discussion group for piano teachers who like to get students off the bench and teach music with hands-on activities.  The goal of the group is to share games that work, places to get games and activities, ways to store them, how play them in a lesson, etc.

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Susan has asked me to be a co-moderator for this awesome new group.  I hope you will consider joining us other there!

To join, click here and look for the “Join Group” button on the right.