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.

In case you’d like to try this activity, I’ve added free PDFs for the rhythm slides and the heartbeat charts to the Printables page.  Visit the Printables > Games page and scroll down to the H’s to find the “Heartbeat Charts for Rhythm Dictation.” Here’s the PDF download:

  Heartbeat Charts for Rhythm Dictation (297.1 KiB, 13,158 hits)

The slides are not necessary for this activity, but they help make things fun and Halloween-y.  I designed the slides to first show just the Halloween phrase, and then to show the rhythm correctly notated underneath.  It’s so valuable for students to be able to self-correct their work during an activity.

Halloween backdrop preview

[Credit for the PowerPoint template goes to]

Visit the Printables > Lesson Plans page and scroll down to the R’s to find the “Rhythm Dictation Slides – Halloween Theme.”  The slides are shared as a PDF.  You can display the slides for your students on your laptop or on your iPad if you don’t have a projector.  Or, you could hand-write the Halloween sentences and rhythms on an erasable whiteboard.

  Rhythm Dictation Slides - Halloween Theme (4.1 MiB, 6,097 hits)

Interval Skeleton Game

Next, we split into two teams for Jennifer Fink’s Interval Skeleton Game.  The complete instructions can be found at Jennifer’s blog, but basically, students from each team alternate answering interval flashcards.  If the interval is identified correctly, the student may add that many bones to their team’s skeleton (e.g., a 5th = 5 bones).  The first team to complete the skeleton is the winner.

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Craft Activity

We ended the Piano Party with a craft project: assembling Halloween-themed Music Fortune Tellers created by Eik Mar from  Students LOVED being able to take these home.  (She has some Thanksgiving-themed ones available now, too!  Be sure to check them out!)


By the way, D’Net’s blog has some cute Fall games you might enjoy.  There is a Trick-or-Treat rhythm game and a Candy Corn Match game.

What Fall activities have you been using in your studio?

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5 thoughts on “November 2014 Piano Party & Heartbeat Chart Printable”

  1. I was wondering if you charge your students for your monthly Piano Parties. I think it is a GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. I love using the candy corn challenge by Chrisanne Holm. I got it on the Facebook Piano Teacher Central group. Students think it’s fun and challenging.

  3. I’d like to use the Skeleton Interval game but when I go from Jennifer Link’s site to try to download it, I get some GetOnlineForms site and nothing about a skeleton. Can you help with this?

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