Ear Training, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables, Rhythm

Just Added: The Rhythm Magnet Game

Here’s a fun movement/rhythm game to play with a group of students which I learned from a Dalcroze Eurhythmics instructor.  I call it the “Rhythm Magnet Game.”

The great thing about this game is that it helps students learn to associate the sound/experience of each rhythm value with it’s corresponding notation.  In Dalcroze and other methodologies (such as Orff), it’s important to experience the concept first and then put the notation and term to it.  This is the “sound before sight” principle.

The Rhythm Magnet Game

Background: This game is best intended for young children (preschool to beginner piano students).  Older students, however, may also find this game beneficial as an rhythm ear training experience and a lesson in keeping an internal pulse.  For this activity to be a success, students must have experience with the idea of quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes, and/or whole notes (but not necessarily with the terms or written notation for each).  This game is perfect activity for teaching little ones to associate each rhythm value to its corresponding notation for the first time.

  1. Prepare by placing the quarter note poster, the half note poster, and the whole note poster at a different corners of the room.  Make a show of it (without much talking) so students watch to see where you are putting each note value.
  2. Instruct students: “Move towards what you hear.”
  3. Help the students establish the beat by patting their hands against their thighs.  Improvise simple ditties/chords on the piano.  Students must listen to identify whether you are playing quarter notes, half notes, etc. to the beat you’ve established with them.
  4. Once the students have moved to the correct corner of the room, change to another note value (with younger children, you may also call “Change!” to help alert them).  When/if students get confused or begin guessing, encourage them to “Find the beat!” so they can figure out the note value.  Continue this process until students get the hang of it.  If students run or get rowdy while moving towards each note value, instruct them to “step the beat” as they move around the room.
  5. Make the game more difficult by adding gradually adding the other note value posters, and by making changes more frequently.  Also, to add a twist mid-way through the activity, try mixing up the posters to new corners/areas of the room.

Students playing this game will soon discover that without checking with the pulse, they cannot determine which note value they are hearing.  This game is a great movement game to get students up and moving during a group lesson!  Have fun!!

To download the rhythm value posters you’ll need for this game, visit the the Printables > Games page and scroll down to the R’s for “Rhythm Magnet Game.”  Enjoy!


Celebrating Two Years!

Today marks the two-year anniversary of Color In My Piano!  Thanks to you all for your support and for making this blog a place to share resources and ideas with each other.  What a wonderful online community we have!

Here’s a run-down of the history of the Color In My Piano blog:

The First Year:

  • It was on February 28, 2009 that I first conceived of this blog and wrote my first post: a welcome and brief statement of purpose.  I found my inspiration largely from Natalie Wickham’s Music Matters Blog and Susan Paradis’ Piano Teacher Resources.  My blog was initially a free wordpress blog, titled “Piano Teaching Blog” (or something similar).  At this point, I was running a successful piano studio of about 20 students out of my parent’s home, and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in piano performance.
  • In May of 2009, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree.  Over the summer, my husband and I moved so we could attend graduate school the next year.  Unfortunately, this meant I had to “give away” all my piano students and find new ones.
  • On July 9, 2009, I decided that I was enjoying blogging enough to go full swing: I came up with the title “Color In My Piano,” bought my own domain name and a year’s worth of web hosting, and gave the site a whole new look.
  • In August of 2010, I started my Master’s degree in Piano Pedagogy at Central Michigan University.
  • Color In My Piano continued to grow and change.  A new Printables page allowed for easier navigation through free resources, and new Facebook integration gave readers a new way to stay updated.
  • As of February 28, 2010 (the 1 year anniversary), Color In My Piano has had 18,371 visiters and has about 50 subscribers. The record number of page views in one day is 425 on February 11, 2010!

The Second Year:

  • I continued to work on my online master degrees and teach between 5-10 students each week.  My GA (Graduate Assistant) responsibilities kept me busy teaching college level Class Piano courses to music majors and collaborating with other vocalists and instrumentalists.
  • Color In My Piano gained a Reading List page and a Highlights page, and begun asking monthly forum questions which quickly turned into weekly Forum Q&A’s. The screenshot at right shows what we look like today.
  • As of February 28, 2011 (the 2 year anniversary), Color In My Piano has had 169,274 visiters, 177 email subscribers, and 172 readers who “like” us on Facebook.  The record number of page views in one day is 1,192 on January 11, 2011!  THANK YOU!

In honor of this celebration, I’d like to open up the floor and allow you to ask me questions about myself.  What do you want to know about me?  Leave a comment or send me an email (admin[at]colorinmypiano.com)!  I’d love to share — if I get enough questions, I’ll answer them all in a post later this week.

Also – a brand new printable is also being posted today: Rhythm Values Posters.  Just because it’s our 2 year anniversary doesn’t mean you won’t get a new printable this week!  =)  The post describes a fun game you can play with your students using the new printable.

Can you believe it — two years already?!  All I can say is, once again, THANK YOU!  =D

Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt | CC 2.0


Tips For Making Your Blog Reader-Friendly [Part 2]

This post is a continuation of Part 1, available here.

DO offer a variety of subscription options and make it easy to follow your blog.

Sometimes new bloggers wonder why it takes so long to establish a following of readers.  I once read somewhere that it takes about a year before you will begin to recognize a committed following of readers start getting regular comments.  Don’t be discouraged – keep the posts coming!  Meanwhile, here are a few things you can do to help gain a following:  Continue reading “Tips For Making Your Blog Reader-Friendly [Part 2]”


Tips for Making Your Blog Reader-Friendly [Part 1]

With today’s advances of technology, there are many new blogs popping up about music, piano teaching, and everything else under the sun.  This is a wonderful thing!  It’s great when people can freely share their expertise, ideas, and resources with others via the web.

However, if you’d allow me, I’d like to offer some DO’s and DON’T’s about blogging.  New bloggers often make rookie mistakes, and I’d love to help you avoid them. Among these tips, you will find ways to make your blog more accessible and reader-friendly.

If you are just starting or thinking about starting your own blog, this post may be a better place to start.  Today’s post is more in depth for those who’ve already gotten their feet wet.

Without further ado, here goes…!
Continue reading “Tips for Making Your Blog Reader-Friendly [Part 1]”

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

— Aldous Huxley

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

Forum Q&A's, Music Theory, Performances

Q&A Forum | Do your students undergo standardized testing?

Last week we had some great replies to the question about what level of recital music to assign. Here’s our new forum question for this week!  I have really enjoyed hearing you responses the last few weeks.  Keep it up!

Do your students undergo standardized testing?  Why or why not?  If you do, which testing(s) do you use (MTNA testing for your state in the U.S., RCM/NMCP, Piano Guild, etc.)?  Do you require it of all your students or is it optional?  What benefits do you see in doing testing –not doing testing, as the case may be?

I’m looking forward to hearing your responses on this one (as usual)!!  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: vanzCC 2.0

Have an idea for a Q&A Forum question?  Please send me an email admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.

improving as a teacher, Resources, Reviews

Announcing the Launch of the “Reading List” Page

Hello readers!

Today marks the official launch of the new “Reading List” page!  I’m very excited about this new part of Color In My Piano.

The Book List contains links to TONS of great books and resources on a variety of topics.  When you’ve got a great book to recommend, visit the Reading List page and leave a comment to share your thoughts with the world!

Here’s the book categories I’ve created:

  • Piano Pedagogy
  • Teaching Resources
  • Early Childhood Music
  • Piano Technique
  • For Parents/Students
  • Music History/Theory
  • Biographies
  • Practice and Performance
  • Keyboard Literature
  • The Piano
  • The Orchestra
  • Just For Kids
  • Inspiration, Fiction, and More

I’m also tossing around the idea of allowing readers to write and submit reviews of books for publication on Color In My Piano.  If interested, please contact me at admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.  There’s no way I’d be able to review all of these books anytime soon, so I’d love to have some help!

CLICK HERE to view the new Book List page now!

Announcements, Group Classes

The Melodica: Piano + Recorder?

Check out the new instrument we have at my home!

I ordered this melodica on Amazon as a surprise for my husband for Valentine’s day, although I plan to make use of it too in the future. =)

To play the melodica, you must blow very gently into the mouthpiece and starting pressing the keys.  The sound very much resembles the sound of an accordion.  Be careful – don’t blow too hard else you may blow the reeds out of place.

It can be played two ways: with the short mouthpiece held in your hands… Continue reading “The Melodica: Piano + Recorder?”

Games, Rhythm

Hands-On Beats the Visual….Hands Down!

My colleague Loretta and I have been teaching a pair of beginner students in a group setting each week.  Last week, we were learning about 3/4 and 4/4 time, and quarter notes and half notes.  Loretta and I wrote rhythms on the whiteboard, asked the students to help us write in bar lines, and then clapped and counted the rhythms together. While this activity worked and was beneficial, what we did this week was much more successful.

On Anne Crosby Gaudet’s website, we discovered her wonderful Music Discoveries Rhythm Blocks pdf.  The pieces are easy to print and cut out.  In class today, our two beginners were so excited to make their own rhythms and try clapping them.  With Ann’s rhythm blocks, it’s easy to tell how many beats each note gets!  Click here and scroll down to view Ann’s printable on her website.

Go figure – give students something hands-on and creative, and they will get more out of it!  (Especially when the students are young beginners!)

What kinds of hands-on activities have you discovered for your students lately?

Forum Q&A's, Performances, repertoire / methods

Forum Q&A | Recital Music: Assign Easy, Hard, or Just Right?

Ready for another installment of a Forum Q&A?  Okay!

A couple of weeks ago we discussed what to do when a student performance “bombs.”  This week, we’ll return to the topic of recitals and talk about assigning repertoire:

When assignment recital repertoire to students, do you generally assign something challenging since they have a lot of time to work on it?  Or do you assign something that is a little bit easy for them, so they can easily succeed at polishing and memorizing the piece?  Or do you simply assign a piece that is right at their current level?

Share your thoughts below!

Photo Credit: meddygarnet | CC 2.0

Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

Thank you to Sandra B. for submitting the following quote!

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared.  I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.  He was the only one doing that.  I wasn’t scared anymore.”

— Cindy, Age 8 (quoted from the book What Love Is To a Child)

Every Wednesday brings Words of Wisdom here at the Color in my Piano blog in the form of a musical quote or joke, intended to bring inspiration or humor to the middle of your week. Have suggestions? Send an email off to admin[at]colorinmypiano.com.