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”

Group Classes

March 2014 Piano Party: Master Class

My students are currently preparing pieces for a local Ribbon Festival as well as my studio’s annual recital.  (I always hold my Spring recital in March or April — I think May gets too busy!)

In order to help prepare them for these events, I decided to ask my friend, Loretta, to give a master class for my students during our “Piano Party” group class this month.  Loretta and I became friends during grad school while earning our pedagogy degrees.  She currently runs a multi-teacher studio in Lansing, Michigan.

Loretta loved the idea and asked if I would give a master class for her students in return.  It turned out to be a great exchange and a very positive experience for all of our students!

Here is a group photo of me with some of Loretta’s students after our master class:

DSC_20140223_145719_2 Continue reading “March 2014 Piano Party: Master Class”

Group Classes

Using YouTube During Group Classes

YouTube_logo_standard_whiteAt my monthly group classes (we call them “Piano Parties”), I like to begin the class by showing an inspiring or humorous video on YouTube.  In the past, I’ve shown:

Last Saturday, I showed my students a video by Zach Heyde.  Zach Heyde is a college student with a passion for composing/arranging.  In this video, Zach and his friend, Frank Tedesco, play Zach’s duet, “Sleigh Ride Duet Fantasy.”   Continue reading “Using YouTube During Group Classes”

Games, Group Classes

September 2013 Piano Party

Last week was a busy week and I didn’t manage to get a single blog post posted!  Hope you missed me — I’m back!  ;)

On Saturday, I held a kick-off Pizza Piano Party with my students who are under age 14.  My goal with this get-together was for students to get to know each other (especially the new beginners) and to generate some excitement for the new year.  Before and after eating our pizza, we played a few simple music games.

First, I let students color and cut-out their own paper piano (download the blank printable here from twink.net).  This was a good activity for students to work on as everyone arrived.  It also allowed students to chat openly and get to know each other as they worked.

Next, we played a game I called, “Find the Music Note.”  It is a musical twist of the old “Find The Thimble” game.  I read about this game somewhere online over a year ago — let me know if you have any idea whom I should credit for this game idea.

To play this game, you need something musical to be the thimble.  I found the plastic red eighth note pictured below at a thrift store a couple of years ago, knowing it would be useful for something one day!  I think it was originally a balloon weight.  You can any small little object for this game.  I have some music note and piano buttons I bought from a craft store — something like that would work well.

Each round of the game, there is a “Hider” and a “Finder.”  The Finder must close their eyes as the Hider finds a good place to hide the “thimble.”  All of the other students must pay attention and watch where the Hider puts the thimble.  Once the Hider has returned to his/her seat, the Finder may open his/her eyes.  As the Finder walks around the room, everyone else must help tell the Finder whether they are getting closer to or further from where the thimble is hidden.  Instead of saying “hot” and “cold” as the traditional game goes, I asked students to vocalize high sounds and low sounds.  (So they wouldn’t wear out their voices too much, I asked them not to make loud sounds — just high/low.)

We played a few rounds of this game until everyone had a turn to be either the Hider or the Finder.  My students had such a blast with this simple game!  It is a good party game to use with young students of varying levels.

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Next, we played an indoor, team version of the Spell-A-Keyboard game.  If anyone is interested, here is the printable for making the floor keyboards pictured below.

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The last game we played was what I call the Rhythm Name Game (read about this game here).  I use this game frequently at group events because it works well with a group of students at varying levels.  Students of any level can stand to improve their sense of rhythm, ear training, and musical memory!   This game works well as the last game because gameplay can continue even when students gradually leave with their parents.

I am looking forward to more monthly Piano Parties this year!

Games, Group Classes

May 2013 Piano Party

My “piano party” group lesson this month was a lot of fun.  We began with the Rhythm Name game — always a favorite.  :)  The Rhythm Name game is described in this post.

Next, I played a variety of short classical pieces and asked students to aurally identify the piece as AB form or ABA.  This was also a good way to expose my students to repertoire by various composers.

This led us right into a listening activity of Leroy Anderson’s The Syncopated Clock, using Jennifer Fink’s wonderful worksheets.

syncopated-clock

We listened to the piece a few times, filling in the information on the first worksheet about the three clocks in the piece.  Then, I passed out the worksheet showing the living room wall, and we listened again for the form of the piece and glued the clocks on the paper in the right order.  My students loved the music and enjoyed figuring out the order of the clocks!

After our listening activity, we played a couple of games: the Swat-A-Rhythm game and the Ice Cream Intervals game, as described in previous posts earlier this week.

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This was our last Piano Party of the year.  Over the summer, my students will have the opportunity to interact at the summer camps, and we will start up our monthly Piano Parties again in the Fall.

Planning monthly group classes does require extra time and planning, but I think it is so worth it!  It is valuable for students to make “piano friends,” and I love having the opportunity to reinforce old concepts, or focus on new concepts that don’t always receive the attention they deserve during weekly lessons.  I will definitely be continuing group classes again next year!

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!”

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!

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”

Games, Group Classes

My New Monthly Group Lessons: “Piano Parties”

Now that I have enough students to do so, I have begun holding monthly group lessons with my students.  I tried it a few times last year, but ended up with a poor turnout both times.  Fortunately, now I have enough students to make it worth the effort.  I call them “Piano Parties.”

Right now, any of my students under age 15 are invited.  My youngest private students are 4, so this makes for a very wide range of ages!  Eventually, my goal would be to split them into groups by age/level, but for now, I am just happy to give them some kind of group lessons.  I am keeping them very fun and informal.

Our first one was a back-to-piano pizza party last month, and I completely forgot to blog about it.  Oops!  :)  I’ll tell you about it now.  Continue reading “My New Monthly Group Lessons: “Piano Parties””

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Camps

A Hello Song & Goodbye Song for Group Classes

When I shared about my method of lesson planning for groups classes a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a Hello Song and Goodbye Song that I use with my young students.  Someone asked which ones I use, so I thought I would let you hear them in this quick video:

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HELLO SONG
Hello, it’s time,
For music class today.
Let’s have, some fun,
With ____, _____, and ______.  (Fill in blanks with students’ names.)

GOODBYE SONG
Goodbye everybody, yes indeed,
Yes indeed, yes indeed.
Let’s make music again next week,
Yes indeed my friends.
Goodbye ____.  (Fill in with student’s name. Repeat this line as needed, then sing the first 4 lines again.)

There are lots of different Hello and Goodbye Songs out there to choose from – just google it and you’ll see!  These were just two that I liked that I found somewhere online.

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, Music Camps

How I Lesson Plan for Group Classes

I’ve had a few requests lately from readers regarding more info about what kind of activities I do with my Homeschool Music Classes and Piano Readiness classes, so I thought it might first be a good idea to first give you a peek into how I lesson plan for group classes.  Although I don’t lesson plan for teaching private lessons, I do always make a plan for group classes.

At each class, we begin and end with a “Hello Song” and “Goodbye Song.”  Students like having this routine, and they are very good at reminding me about the songs if I forget about them!  I have the students tap the beat on their knees (as we sit cross-legged on our carpet squares) while we sing.  That way, I can tell if they are engaged even if they aren’t singing all the lyrics for one reason or another.

When I lesson plan the evening before the next day’s class, I try to include the following things:  Continue reading “How I Lesson Plan for Group Classes”