I've added more posters thanks to great ideas from Ida Buck and Roberta Jelliff. Thanks ladies! Feel free to download and share these fun piano aides with your students. My favorite one is Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips. Hilarious! They are free to download. Enjoy!
Thanks to Karen for these fun new phrases! Teachers, if you have any other phrases that your students use, contact me and I'd be happy to make a poster for them.
Click here for posters different than the those shown below.
This is a great activity to help your student get out of the rut of using quarter notes or simple rhythms in their compositions. Each card is a complete measure with four total beats so your students can choose as many or as little cards as they'd like. There are also cards for advanced players with eighth note and sixteenth note rhythms. I have included instructions on how to compose a song from start to finish using the rhythm cards. I'd love to hear if you students enjoy this activity!
Click here to download Rhythm Card Activity
I created this game to help my students who are learning how to count eighth notes. It can be silly and a ton of fun in a group setting, but easily adaptable to a private lesson. Each student must draw a staff and a challenge card that say things like: count the rhythm like a rapper, or hop the rhythm on one foot, etc. They can choose to accept the challenge for two points, or simply clap and count for one point.
Download Eighth Note Rhythm Challenge Game
During the month of December I like to let my students have a break from their method books to play christmas music. Of course, I still like to see them progress and work on technic issues as well!
Jolly Old Saint Nicholas is a perfect song for beginners who struggle with repeated notes. I've found that when playing the same notes many young students slap their hands up and down rather than using their finger muscles to depress the key. While playing this song, have your students pretend that all their finger tips are glued to the keys for the whole song. It can get quite silly, which is fun, and this is meant to be an exercise only, but if done right, it should teach them to use each finger individually a little better.
Here are a couple of awesome pieces written by my students using the "Luck of the Draw" composing activity.
by Quinn Schick
This piece reminds me of a classic western movie. I always picture cowboys on an adventure when I hear it.
Early Intermediate Piano Solo
Left hand stays in C position with I, IV, and V7 chords
Right hand extends to a 6th and has both staccato and legato notes
Bastien Level 2
Download Cowboy Chase
by Brinley Memmott
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermoine uses a Time Turner to go back in time and attend more classes. This piece was inspired by that magical device and Hermoine's adventures with it.
Intermediate Piano Solo
Left hand stays in F position
5/4 Time Signature
Several cross overs and stretches in right hand
Bastien Level 4
Download Time Turner
My students have had so much fun with this activity and they have written some awesome songs over the past several weeks. This activity is broken up into several weeks as follows:
- Spread out a set of Musical Alphabet Cards and have your student pick four cards. Use only the cards without the flat and sharp symbols. Sometimes I'll have them re-draw if they pick four notes all in a row, or sometimes it just adds to the challenge.
- Each student will use those four notes to compose a short melody - any rhythm, and octave, etc. They can use any of the four notes as many times as they want.
- It may be helpful to have your students designate one of their cards to be the Key of their song. They will want to end their song with that note. For instance, if their cards are D, G, C, and F, and they choose to make D the key of their song, the F's and C's will need to be sharp, and the last note should be a D. They can use all the notes as many times as they want.
- I encouraged them to write at least five measures, but they could do more if they wanted.
-This week is spent correcting notation - stem direction, note spacing, incomplete measures, etc. Its good for them to write and re-write, which will give them a great understanding of symbols, theory, and notation. I also help them with their melodies if they are struggling at this point, but I try to lead them in the direction they should go, rather than just fix it for them. This is their composition and should reflect their inner artists.
Once they are satisfied with their melody, I have them add a 3-4 measure of a "B" section, or a bridge, and then repeat their melody. This may need to be spread out over a few weeks, depending on their level of understanding.
I review the most common chords (I, IV, V7) for the key their song is in. We write the chords down, along with the inversions of those chords. Each student takes a sheet of chords home and tries to find the best sounding chord for each measure. They write the chord name above the melody.
Using the chord names, my students developed a L.H. for their melody using variations of the chords, different rhythms, etc.
Add dynamics, fingerings, and anything else, and put it into the computer to make it official! My students especially love seeing their own compositions printed out.
Here is the first completed song for this exercise. I made up a cover to make it extra special for my student. I'll post more songs as my students complete their compositions and I get their covers done. They all did such a great job!
by Josh Hoffman
Click here to download Circus Rush
These posters are for students learning to read notes. The pictures behind the staff serve as quick reminders to the phrases my students use to remember note names. These phrases are pretty common, but let me know if you use a different one and I'd be happy to create a poster for you. These are the phrases I used:
Treble Lines - Every Good Boy Does Fine
Treble Spaces - F-A-C-E
Bass Lines - Great Big Dogs Fight Animals
Bass Spaces - All Cars Eat Gas
Download Note Reading Posters
Every Good Bird Does Fly
All Cows Eat Grass
I also put together this reference sheet for students to put in their binders. Its a nice sheet for them to refer to while practicing.
Download Note Reading Reference Sheet
These are some fun Halloween songs I've found online for my students. Each link will take you to the song's originating web site. Let me know if there are any more out there that I've missed. Enjoy!
Attack of the Black Cat
by Jennifer Jink