Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables

DIY: Musical AlphaGems

I recently have made what I have decided to call “Musical AlphaGems.”  These fun little gems have many uses: they fit well on my DIY Silent Mini Keyboards and also work well on paper printed of the staff (such as this one by Susan Paradis, which is pictured in the second photo below).

I got the inspiration for these Musical AlphaGems from those little magnets that have been so popular over the last couple of years (see this blog article).    Continue reading “DIY: Musical AlphaGems”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Musical Terms Worksheet #2

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Musical Terms Worksheet #2

This worksheet is intended for elementary level students who have learned basic note values and musical terms. The first section of the worksheet, which is Fill In The Blank, reviews the 10 terms which were introduced in Musical Terms Worksheet #1. The second section, Matching, introduces seven new terms: crescendo, decrescendo, ritardando, barline, double barline, repeat sign, and time signature.

Complete list of covered in this worksheet:

  • treble clef, bass clef
  • quarter note, half note, dotted half note, whole note
  • piano, mezzo piano, mezzo forte, forte
  • crescendo, decrescendo
  • barline, double barline, repeat sign
  • ritardando

Stay tuned – more muscial terms worksheets are to come in the upcoming weeks!

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Musical Terms Worksheet #1

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Musical Terms Worksheet #1

This worksheet is intended for beginner/early elementary students who have learned basic note values and musical terms.  The student is instructed to match the musical symbol pictured on the left to each corresponding term on the right.  Terms covered include: treble clef and bass clef, basic rhythms (quarter note through whole note), and  dynamics (piano through forte).

Complete list of covered in this worksheet:

  • treble clef
  • bass clef
  • quarter note
  • half note
  • dotted half note
  • whole note
  • piano
  • mezzo piano
  • mezzo forte
  • forte

Stay tuned – another muscial terms worksheet is to come in the upcoming weeks!

Memorization, Music Theory, Practice, Technique

Top 5 Reasons to Learn Scales

an excerpt from Kuhlau Sonatina Op.20 No.1

Why do we learn and practice scales?  Have you (or your students) ever asked this question?  Is it just for tradition’s sake that piano teachers assign scales to work on?  I think it’s important not only for we teachers to know the WHY behind scales, but also for our students to know!   Continue reading “Top 5 Reasons to Learn Scales”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Five-Finger Pattern (b’s) Review

Just added to the page of free Printables:

Five-Finger Pattern Review (b’s) worksheet

This worksheet is intended as a review of all the major five-finger patterns (5FPs) with flats; however, using the “WWHW” pattern template, students can easily figure out any 5FPs that they might not already be familiar with.  This worksheet will help students become more familiar with the accidentals needed for each FFP and what each FFP looks like when played on the keyboard.

A worksheet such as this works well in group lessons, or as an extra theory assignment for the private lesson.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down the F’s for the “Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet.”

This worksheet corresponds to previously posted Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet for FFPs with #’s.

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Five-Finger Pattern Review (#’s)

Just added to the page of free Printables:

Five-Finger Pattern Review (#’s) worksheet

This worksheet is intended as a review of all the major five-finger patterns (5FPs) with sharps; however, using the “WWHW” pattern template, students can easily figure out any 5FPs that they might not already be familiar with.  This worksheet will help students become more familiar with the accidentals needed for each FFP and what each FFP looks like when played on the keyboard.

A worksheet such as this works well in group lessons, or as an extra theory assignment for the private lesson.

Look for corresponding the Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet for FFPs with b’s coming soon!

Announcements, Music Theory

Rallentando & Ritardando: What’s the Difference?

Ever wonder about the difference between rallentando and ritardando?  Well, I did….so I decided to look into it and add my two cents to the debate.  =)

According to the Music Dictionaries…

Many musical dictionaries simply state, “slowing down” as the definition for both rallentando and ritardando.  Some state that the two words are synonyms.  However, I would still like to think there is some slight difference in meaning or emphasis between the two words.  After all, they are two different words in the Italian language.   And composers have been making use of both words in their compositions for centuries.  So I decided to do a little more digging. Continue reading “Rallentando & Ritardando: What’s the Difference?”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Scales & Primary Chords 4 (DbC#GbF#)

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Scales & Primary Chords 4 (DbC#GbF#) Worksheet

This worksheet is a continuation of set of worksheets that practice writing out scales and primary chords on the staff (click here to view the first one which is for the keys C, G, D, and F, click here to view the second one which is for D, A, E, and Bb, or click here to view the third one which is for Bb, Eb, Ab, and B).

Ideally, this worksheet is designed for the intermediate+ student who is already familiar with the scales and primary chords for the keys of Db, C#, Gb, and F# major, and perhaps could use some review in writing them out on the staff.  However, this worksheet could also be used during a group lesson while introducing these ideas for the first time.

Terms/concepts covered in the worksheet:

  • An understanding of key signatures for Db, C#, Gb, and F# major.
  • Practice writing out scales.
  • Practice writing out primary chords.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the S’s for “Scales & Primary Chords worksheet.”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Scales & Primary Chords 3 (BbEbAbB)

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Scales & Primary Chords 3 (BbEbAbB) Worksheet

This worksheet is a continuation of set of worksheets that practice writing out scales and primary chords on the staff (click here to view the first one, which is for the keys C, G, D, and F, or click here to view the second one, which is for D, A, E, and Bb).

Ideally, this worksheet is designed for the intermediate+ student who is already familiar with the scales and primary chords for the keys of Bb, Eb, Ab, and B major, and perhaps could use some review in writing them out on the staff.  However, this worksheet could also be used during a group lesson while introducing these ideas for the first time.

Terms/concepts covered in the worksheet:

  • An understanding of key signatures for Bb, Eb, Ab, and B major.
  • Practice writing out scales.
  • Practice writing out primary chords.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the S’s for “Scales & Primary Chords worksheet.”

One more worksheet in this set is on the way!

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

Music Theory at our Piano Mini-Camp (3/3)

In continuation of a description of the music theory activities at our Piano Mini-Camp a few weeks ago, here are more details concerning the activities we used:

Rhythm Dictation Game

This rhythm dictation game by Natalie was a real hit with the students!  I printed off two sets of cards and put the students into groups of two so that they could work together.  Here’s how the game works:

  • Instruct the students to sort/spread out the cards on the floor so they can see the different rhythmic value options.
  • Clap a rhythm for the students.  Instruct them to listen and be able to clap it back to you before beginning to dictate the rhythm using the cards.  This may take a few listens before they can clap it back accurately.
  • Tell students to work together within their team to dictate the rhythm using the cards.

I tried to clap rhythms according to the approximate level of the groups of students I was teaching, and increased the difficulty of each rhythm as they became accustomed to the process.  I also tried to vary the time signatures between 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4.  I kept the rhythms to just 2 measures long, unless we were in 2/4 time or unless the students were more advanced.

I think it’s important to have the students be able to clap the rhythm back in its entirety before beginning to dictate it using the cards, because it helps increase their musical memory.  Otherwise, they will dictate only 1 or 2 beats at a time, and constantly be asking you to “do it again!”  If they can remember it themselves, they can then re-clap it to themselves as needed as they work on dictating it. Continue reading “Music Theory at our Piano Mini-Camp (3/3)”

Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory, Printables

Music Theory at our Piano Mini-Camp (2/3)

In continuation of the series about music theory at our piano mini-camp, here are the descriptions of a few more of the activities we did:

Music Adventures Board Game

In my music theory classes, one of my goals was to cover as many areas within the broad scope of “music theory” as I could.  The gem stones activity covered 5FPs/scales/key signatures; the rhythm dictation game covered rhythm and ear training, and the Hear & Sign game covered more ear training.  This game, called “Music Adventures,” focuses mostly on music terminology, but also on note reading and identifying intervals.

You may recognize this game from the picture on the right: I created this piano-bench-sized board game earlier this year, and it is available for download on the Printables > Other Resources page.

To prepare for this game, we first quickly reviewed some music terms on the chalkboard.  Then I set the students loose in teams of 2 to play this music board game.  You can vary the length of this game by using either one die or two dice.  I had lots of things I wanted to do in my 30-minute classes, so I gave each team two dice.  We played this game one time, on the second day of camp.

Susan Paradis’ Music Bingo

I used Susan’s Music Bingo game at a group lesson about a year ago and it was a huge hit, and I thought this was a good opportunity to use it again!  I used this game on the last day of camp, and it was quite a fun way to end the day.

To cover the spaces on the Bingo sheet, instead of using the red markers picture on the right we used the same colored glass stones that we used for the gem notes on keyboard & staff activity.  One less thing to haul along from home with me to camp.  =)

Stay tuned – there is one more post about our music theory activities coming soon!

Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Music Theory

Music Theory at our Piano Mini-Camp (1/3)

As promised, here’s more about the Music Theory classes at our Piano Mini-Camp a few weeks ago.  I didn’t create formal lesson plans per-se, but the next three posts will serve as a general outline of the activities we did over each of the three camp days.

Gem Notes on the Keyboard & Staff

Using Susan Paradis’ wonderful resources, I created an activity for teaching 5-finger patterns (5FPs) and scales.  We used colorful glass stones (from the dollar store) to build 5FPS/scales on her table-top keyboard printable and one of her grand staff printables.  After printing everything out on cardstock, I cut out the table-top keyboard so that the students each had one long keyboard and then put each grand staff in a sheet protector.

The students really enjoyed using the colorful “gems.”  One little student kept asking me, “Are they REAL GEMS?!”  =)

With the younger students, we learned just about 5FPs: how to build them (WWHW) in various keys, and how to make them minor (lower the 3rd).  With the more advanced students, we learned about the entire scale (WWHWWWH) in various keys, and how to make them minor (lower the 3rd, 6th, and 7th for natural minor).

We first created the 5FP/scale first on the keyboard (pictured above), and then created it on the staff.  The reason I had the student do both is because I think students sometimes fail to make the connection from the keyboard to the staff and vice versa.  I intended this activity to be a way to build their understanding of the connection between their playing and what they see on the staff when it comes to 5FP/scales.

In order to notate a sharp or flat on the staff, we used different shaped gem stones (which I also found at the dollar store): an oblong shape.  I’m sure you could also just use the different colors to represent the notes with accidentals.

We spent about 10-15 minutes each day on this activity.  Each day, we reviewed what was covered the previous day and then added something new to the process (like learning about minor) or tried out other key signatures.

Make A Keyboard Activity

On the first day of camp, I started each theory class with another Susan Paradis activity: Make A Keyboard.  I strongly recommend printing this printable onto cardstock paper so it will last longer.

I chose this activity mostly as a warmup activity to get their minds working before moving on to more complex activities.  But it’s a good activity to see whether the students remember how the keyboard is laid out without looking.  One student had all her black keys in groups of two at first, and couldn’t figure out why she had extra black keys!

I handed each student a small zipper bag with all the piano key pieces inside and told them to “make a keyboard.”  This activity took less than 5 minutes to complete.  It worked very well as an opening activity!

Stay tuned – more music theory activities from our mini-camp are coming soon!  Meanwhile, check out the recent responses to the July Forum topic about piano method books and be sure to contribute your thoughts!