Resources

Check Out SusanHong.com

Hello, readers!

Just a quick post for today, encouraging you to check out my friend Susan Hong’s brand new website, SusanHong.com. I’ve had the honor of helping Susan out with her website and other technology-related topics for a few years now. She is not only a wonderful artist and piano teacher, but an all-around wonderful person and friend!

Here’s a picture of Susan and I, taken during the 2016 MTNA conference in her hometown, San Antonio, Texas!

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Susan has posted a few items of interest on her new website so far, but I would especially encourage you to check out her Musical Mandala Coloring Book PDF. When you purchase the download, you’re getting a studio license allowing you to print as needed for your own students. I’ve already downloaded and printed a few copies to place in my studio for my students to enjoy coloring in my waiting room area.

There’s a limited time sale going on now. Don’t miss checking out Susan’s mandalas by clicking HERE!

Professional Development, repertoire / methods, Retreat

Video: Let’s Talk about John Thompson’s “Teaching Little Fingers To Play”

Hi there!

Earlier today, I went live on Facebook to talk about one of my favorite old piano method books: the classic John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano. I have to admit certain bias for the “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” book. It was my first piano book when I was all of age 5. :)

Here is the Facebook Live video.

Let's talk about this classic piano method: John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano. I have to admit certain bias for the "Teaching Little Fingers" book because it was my first piano book when I was age 5. ??

Posted by Color In My Piano blog on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Here is what’s covered in the video:

  • 0:50  Get a peek inside an OLD copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers To Play” book by John Thompson.
  • 2:10  Why I like using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book sometimes today as a supplement.
  • 3:05  Get a peek inside a NEW copy of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book. The illustrations have been updated, but the version is otherwise pretty true to the original.
  • 3:35  How to address one of the potential pitfalls of using the “Teaching Little Fingers” book: the overabundance of finger numbers.
  • 4:47  How John Thompson was ahead of his time as a pedagogue. Or, perhaps there is really just “nothing new under the sun.” :) Hint: See the note on the cover of the “Teaching Little Fingers” book.
  • 7:04  Learn more about other music and resources John Thompson authored.

Questions for you: Have you ever used the John Thompson series? What do you appreciate about it?

Thanks for watching!

P.S.: Why am I looking through old piano method books? It’s because I’m in the midst of preparations for Retreat at Piano Manor which I will be hosting later this summer, August 17-19, 2017! During the retreat, we will be looking through piano method books from across the decades, uncovering pedagogical wisdom relevant for us today. Registration is now open and a few teachers have already registered. Be sure to watch the facebook page and here on the blog for future videos about piano methods.

Announcements, Studio Business

2016 Studio T-Shirt

Look at what arrived in the mail recently! I love how our T-shirts turned out this year.

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Since 2012, I’ve ordered studio T-shirts each summer as a gift for my students. It’s a fun way to show appreciation for being a part of my studio and build camaraderie among my students. And it’s good marketing, too.

Just for fun, here’s a peek at the designs from past years.  Continue reading “2016 Studio T-Shirt”

improving as a teacher, Reading Notation, Teaching Piano

The Role of Intervalic Reading when Reading Music

A few weeks ago, I added a new game to my Shop called the Ice Cream Interval game.  In that post, I briefly mentioned the importance of being able to read intervalically when reading music and I’d like to discuss this further today.

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While it is important for students to be able to identify the names of notes quickly, it is equally important for them to read intervals as early as possible in their studies.  While I am a big believer in drilling note-naming flashcards, I am an even bigger believer in drilling intervals.  Continue reading “The Role of Intervalic Reading when Reading Music”

Early Childhood Music, Printables

Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards

There are quite a few places you can download and print free music note-naming flashcards.  Anne Crosby’s website and Susan Paradis’ website come to mind, for example.  However, I recently realized that I wanted a set of jumbo-sized cards, to use with my Piano Readiness classes.

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I can hold up these jumbo-sized cards during class and my young students can still see the note on the staff.  Young beginners or students with disabilities may also benefit from having jumbo-sized flashcards.

I color-coded my flashcards according to the range of notes.  I printed the Middle C position notes on green paper, the next few notes up to Treble C and down to Bass C on yellow paper, and the next notes up to High C and Low C (ledger lines) on blue paper.

You can download this FREE pdf on the Printables > Other Resources page, under “Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards.”

  Jumbo Note-Naming Flashcards (459.7 KiB, 25,356 hits)

Yesterday, I asked for your favorite game ideas involving note-naming flashcards.  I can’t wait to try out some of your ideas — keep ’em coming!

Games, Group Classes, Printables, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

Rhythm Train Game

I love being able to print out rhythm cards for my students to practice at home.  I can give them just a few cards to start, and add more advanced rhythms and time signatures as needed.  My students store their cards in a zipper bag and bring them to their lessons each week.

At first, I assign students to randomly choose a few cards clap and count at home each day.  When that becomes easy, we are ready to play the Rhythm Train game.  :)

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Rhythm Train game

a music game for 1 or more students

Materials:

  • Rhythm flashcards.
  • Printed train cards of the engine and the caboose (download the FREE printable on the Printables > Games page, under “Rhythm Train game.”)

Gameplay:

Ask the student(s) to randomly choose 2 or 3 rhythm cards with the same time signature.  First, make sure that the student(s) are able to accurately clap each rhythm card separately.  As they master each card, they may add it to the train behind the engine, with the caboose at the end. When all the cards have been added to the train, ask the student(s) to clap the entire rhythm.  Challenge the student to see how many rhythm trains they can make, or assign the student to make a rhythm train every day at home.

Playing the Rhythm Train game makes clapping rhythms just a little bit more fun.  :)  It works well both in the private lesson (it can be played at the piano on the music rack, or off-the-bench on the floor) or in group classes.

You can download the free pdf of the train cards and instructions on the Printables > Games page, under “Rhythm Train game.”  Enjoy!

Note: If you don’t have any rhythm flashcards, you can find a pdf download to purchase at ColorInMyPiano.com/shop/.  Your purchase includes a license to be able to print the rhythm cards as many times as you wish, as long as you are using them with your own students.

Ear Training, Games, Group Classes, Rhythm

Swat-A-Rhythm Game (With Variations)

At last Saturday’s Piano Party with my students, we played a fun game that I call the Swat-A-Rhythm game.  I have seen many variations of this game on various forums and websites, so I am not sure who to credit with the original idea.  In any case, I will describe the way I played this game with my students.  :)  I also have some ideas for varying the game for concepts besides rhythm — such as notes, intervals, melodies, and terms.

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Swat-A-Rhythm Game (& Variations­)

Materials:

  • A fly swatter for each student.  My local Dollar Tree store is currently selling some colorful fly swatters for 2/$1.00.
  • 5-8 different cards with rhythm examples.  (If you don’t already have some, I have a pdf of rhythm cards available for purchase here in my shop.
  • Bug cards (optional), for keeping track of points.

Gameplay:

Spread the rhythm cards out on the floor, within reach of each player.  After the teacher finishes clapping the rhythm on one of the cards, the first student to swat the correct card earns a bug card.  The player with the most bugs at the end of the game is the winner.  (Note: You may wish to stress that anyone who swats before the teacher finishes clapping the rhythm cannot win the point.)

I’ve created a free pdf with the bug cards and game instructions.  You can download it on the Printables > Games page, by scrolling down to the S’s for Swat-A-Rhythm Game.

It is sometimes challenging to come up with good aural-based games, but I think this one is a winner!  My students had fun with the colorful fly swatters, and the game provided an incentive to listen closely to the rhythm.

Variations:

  • Swat-A-Note – The teacher calls out a letter of the musical alphabet, and students must swat the flashcard with the correct note on the staff.  Or, do it backwards: Hold up a staff note-naming flashcard, and students swat cards that say A, B, C, D, E, F, or G.  (If you need some alphabet cards, click here.)
  • Swat-A-Piano-Key – After the teacher calls out a letter, students swat the corresponding piano key flashcard.  Or, the teacher holds up a piano key flashcard and students swat cards that say A, B, C, D, E, F, or G.  (If you need some piano key cards, click here.)
  • Swat-An-Interval – After the teacher plays an interval on the piano, the students swat the interval card they heard.
  • Swat-A-Melody – Cut a short piece of sheet music into two-measure pieces.  The teacher plays random sections on the piano, and students must swat which two-measure section they heard.
  • Swat-A-Term — After the teacher reads a definition of a musical term, students must swat the card with the correct term.

I hope your students enjoy this fun, versatile game!

Games, Music Theory

Piano Keyboard Printable

Today, I’m sharing a simple but useful freebie: I call it the Piano Keyboard Printable.

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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.

You can download this free printable by visiting the Printables > Other Resources page and scrolled down to “Piano Keyboard Printable.”

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.

Resources

Great Resource: Fun & Learn Music website

Screen shot 2013-02-12 at 8.54.21 AMAfter finding the new Fun & Learn Music website last night, I simply had to share the link with you all.  This website has a large variety of FREE music worksheets, organized by subject.  The worksheets are clear and to-the-point, but also cute and fun for students.  I will definitely be using many of these worksheets with my students in the future!

Fun & Learn Music also has a Shop area, where they sell complete theory books and a couple of rhythm games that look really fun and well-designed.  I can’t wait to see how this site develops in the future!

Check out their website here, and their facebook page here.

Group Classes, Music History

More Details About My Homeschool Music History Class

DSC_20121005_173751I have been receiving TONS of questions about my homeschool Music History Classes lately, so I decided to write a post that explains more about how I started and currently run the class.

You may recall that my husband and I moved from Michigan to Ohio about a year-and-a-half ago.  Starting up a new studio from scratch takes time, and there is a business strategy that says: “Diversify your income.”  I had been wanting to reach out to the home-school community for awhile already (Fun fact: did you know I was home-schooled for 5 years of my education growing up?).  :)  When I saw Sheryl Welles’s idea (see her blog here) about having a Music Appreciation/Music History class for home-schoolers, I decided I wanted to try to start one, too!

After some online research, I discovered that the home-schooling families in my area have a Yahoo group where they chat and stay in touch about upcoming events.  I joined the Yahoo group and posted some information about the classes I want to start.  I received only one reply, from a family with three children.  Those three children were the entire class for quite awhile, and eventually two more joined.

I decided to hold each class for 50 minutes, so that I could have 10 minutes to put everything away afterwards and still have time to start a private lesson at the next hour if I wanted to.

At first, I taught short lessons about a new composer every week, but soon realized that this was not enough time to give the composer justice — and the students were not absorbing the information well enough.  When I would review information from previous weeks, they would get the composers mixed up.  That is when I decided to format my curriculum into lapbooks.   Using the lapbooks, we cover a new composer every three weeks.  (My music history curriculum “Great Composers & Their Music” is currently available for purchase in my Shop at $10 per composer.)

We generally spend about 20-25 minutes each class working on the lapbooks while I read the biography and play musical excerpts by the composer.  The rest of the class time is spent doing a variety of activities.  I plan worksheets or games that cover rhythm, aural, or theory concepts that are appropriate to the students’ current music knowledge.  I write weekly lesson plans, so that I can easily look back and plan ahead.

As you already know, I often create my own games and worksheets and share them here on my blog.  :)  But I do often use materials created by other teachers, too.  The two resources I have been using the most recently are pianimation.com and susanparadis.com.  If you don’t already know about these two websites, you should definitely check them out now!

If you have other questions about my homeschool music class, please leave a comment below this post!

Printables, seasonal / holiday

Piano Valentine Printable #2

Remember the piano valentines I made last year?

I was wasn’t planning to design a new music-themed valentine this year — but when inspiration struck, I just had to design it!

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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!