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.
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!
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.