improving as a teacher, Music Theory

Teaching Music Theory: Our Responsibility

I was talking to a parent after teaching a lesson yesterday, and she told me that her older daughter (who plays a few different band instruments, but is not currently taking piano lessons) is attending a band camp for high schoolers this week.  Upon arrival, the camp gave her daughter a theory placement test, and she scored a 2B (I’m not sure what leveling system they were using, but her mother had expected her to score higher).  Her mother was a little perturbed because she has paid for many years of lessons for her daughter, but only a few of her daughter’s past teachers taught theory as component of taking private lessons.  She wondered, shouldn’t my daughter have gotten more theory training than this?  What have I been paying all this money and time for?

This conversation got me thinking about our responsibility as teachers.  A basic definition of music theory is the study of how music works. A student having little understanding of theory is missing a huge piece of the pie.   Continue reading “Teaching Music Theory: Our Responsibility”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Navigating at the Keyboard Worksheet

A new free worksheet has just been added to the Printables page: Navigating at the Keyboard.

This worksheet is for young beginners who have only just recently been exposed to piano.  This worksheet is designed to help them become familiar with the layout of the keyboard so that they can locate and identify the keys by name.

This worksheet reinforces:

  • recognizing black-key groups of 2 versus 3
  • finding C on the keyboard
  • the musical alphabet (it only goes to G, and then repeats)
  • then finding D-G on the keyboard

This is an excellent worksheet to send home with a young student after their first piano lesson.  Visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the N’s for “Navigating at the Piano worksheet” to view it now!

Music Theory, Printables

Just Added: Reference Sheet for Reading Music

This free printable is a handy reference sheet to give out to students who are just learning to read musical notation from the staff.

What it contains:

  1. notes and their values, eighth through whole.
  2. rests and their values, eighth through whole.
  3. word mnemonics for figuring out the letter names of notes on the staff:
  • Treble staff lines: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
  • Treble staff spaces: FACE
  • Bass staff lines: Great Big Dogs Fight Animals
  • Bass staff spaces: All Cows Eat Grass

There are many different word mnemonics for remembering the lines and spaces on the staff.  Which ones do you use?

CLICK HERE to view the Reading Music | Reference Sheet printable now!

Group Classes, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano, Worksheets

Just Added: Write In The Barlines #2

That’s right, a new free printable worksheet has just been added to the Printables >Worksheets page:

Write In the Barlines #2

This worksheet is for use after using the Write In the Barlines #1 worksheet.  This time, students must draw the barlines through both staves of the grand staff instead of through just one staff.  This worksheet has 4 examples in four different time signatures, including 6/8.

This worksheet is designed for the late elementary / early intermediate level student, to reinforce the following concepts:

  • measures
  • barlines
  • ties
  • meters (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, and 6/8)

Click here to view and print it now!

Games, Group Classes, Motivation, Music Camps, Music Theory, Resources, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

Group Piano Class Ideas

I recently came across this great video/podcast on Mario Ajero’s YouTube channel: an interview with pianist and piano pedagogue Dr. Julie Knerr.  Both Maria Ajero and Julie Knerr are graduates from University of Oklahoma’s widely recognized piano pedagogy program.  In this video, Dr. Knerr shares some of her game ideas for her group piano classes — which she holds weekly in addition to her student’s weekly private lessons — to build a variety of musicianship skills.  Check it out!

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EbQDrLwkxo&feature=PlayList&p=F4AF6DA098C0399F&index=0&playnext=1

Most of these activities could be easily modified for use during a private lesson, music camp, studio party, and other settings.  You can visit Dr. Knerr’s website at julieknerrpiano.com.  She has recently been co-writing a new piano method series called Piano Safari (as mentioned back in this post) available by order via PayPal at pianosafari.com.

Be sure to also check out more great podcasts at Mario Ajero’s website, The Piano Podcast.

Group Classes, Music Theory, Printables, Teaching Piano, Worksheets

Just Added: Write In The Barlines Worksheet #1

That’s right, a new free printable worksheet has just been added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Write In the Barlines #1

This worksheet is an one I created a few years ago, and I thought I’d share it here for any of you to use!  My students LOVE taking home “extra credit” worksheets (outside of their weekly assignment from their theory books) to earn extra stickers.  =)

This worksheet is designed for the late elementary / early intermediate level student, to reinforce the following concepts:

  • measures
  • barlines
  • ties
  • meters (2/4, 3/4, and 4/4)

Click here to view and print it now!

Group Classes, Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Sharps and Flats Worksheet

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Sharps and Flats Worksheet

In this free worksheet, students will practice…

  • drawing sharps and flats in front of notes on the staff.
  • identifying sharped and flatted notes on the staff.
  • locate sharped and flatted notes on the keyboard.

This simple worksheet is a great way to check whether a student understands the concept behind sharps and flats.  I often send this sheet home with private students after introducing accidentals for the first time.  They are instructed to complete it on their own at home, and to bring it back the next week to earn a sticker.  =)

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the S’s for “Sharps & Flats worksheet.”  Enjoy!

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

Just Added: Board Game “Adventures in Music”

Just added to the Printables page: a free piano-bench-sized board game for music students, called “Adventures in Music”!

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I am so thrilled to be offering this game on my website.  This is my first attempt at creating a music game for students, and I’m quite excited about the results.

Continue reading “Just Added: Board Game “Adventures in Music””

Announcements, Composition, Group Classes, Music History, Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added! Lesson Plans: Analyzing & Composing Music in the Romantic Style

Picture 2Just added to the Printables > Lesson Plans page:

Lesson Plans & Worksheets: Analyzing & Composing Music in the Romantic Style 

A few months ago, I used these lesson plans during a piano camp where I taught Theory & Composition classes.  This camp is unusual in that it gives the students a chance to work on ensemble music with their fellow campers.  In addition, all the ensemble music are original compositions — composed just for our campers.

In the lesson plans I made, I tried to incorporate both the emphasis on composition and the topic of the Music History classes (taught by another instructor; this year, focusing on the Romantic Period).  So, this year’s lesson plans are all about learning how to compose music in the Romantic style.  By the end of the week, the class had created a Class Composition for piano which was performed for all to hear at the camp recital!  The pieces were humorous, yet surprisingly sophisticated.  Perhaps later on, I’ll post an example of a composition they created, if that would be helpful to anyone.

The lesson plans are designed for classes of 4 – 6 students ranging in ages about 9 to 15, but I’m sure they could be adapted to suit other ages and groups of students.  Enjoy!  Let me know how they work for you.

  Analyzing & Composing in the Romantic Style - Lesson Plans & Worksheets (1.0 MiB, 33,642 hits)

Announcements, Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

“Printables” page has been updated

Picture 6
click image to enlarge

If you head over the the Printables page, you will see that it has undergone a complete makeover!  I was having a great deal of difficulty with the WordPress plugin I was using to organize and display my printables, so finally I scrapped it totally and found another one.  Although it is not as fancy as before (i.e., there are no longer any preview thumbnails of each file), it gets the job done!

The following posts have been updated so that the links to each pdf are now working:

You can also simply visit the Printables page to see a listing of all the pdfs currently available.  Enjoy!

Music Theory, Resources, Technology

Resources @ makingmusicfun.net

Have you seen makingmusicfun.net yet?  This site is full of free resources for both teachers and students.  All the materials available at Making Music Fun have super-cute graphics in an “under the sea” theme.

Picture 5

For teachers:

  • Sheet music (both arranged and unarranged, organized by level)
  • Composer worksheets
  • Music achievement certificates
  • Practice charts
  • Manuscript paper
  • Intervals worksheets
  • and more!

For kids:

  • Music theory arcade games
  • “Meet the composer” section
  • “Meet the orchestra” section
  • Children’s songs

There’s plenty to explore at the Making Music Fun website.  Let me know what you find!

Composition, Music Theory, Resources

Best free manuscript paper

Picture 6Just thought I’d share a little tip today about where to find THE best free manuscript paper (in my humble opinion): Antonjazz.com  

There are hundreds of sites out there that offer free manuscript paper (aka staff paper).  But this is my absolute favorite.  

Now, you must know, I do a little composing every now and then.  And I have discovered that I am a very picky manuscript paper person.  It has to be just right. 

I always print the “Blank manuscript paper with 10 staves, no clefs” paper.  It’s very economical and flexible.  It’s professional and clean-looking.  

Does this paper work for young students?  Not so much.  I’d recommend finding something bigger.  With wider spaces.  (Suggestions, anyone?) 

But I love this manuscript paper for myself and my older students to use.  It’s perfect for that. 

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Do you have a favorite manuscript paper, as I do?  Please let us know by commenting below.