Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Music Alphabet Mystery - Sneaking Up and Down the Stairs

It's time for another Music Alphabet Mystery! My beginners completed the Music Alphabet Mystery I posted last week, and after they all said "This is EASY!" I was pleased with how well they know their music alphabet and knew it was time to move on to something a tiny bit more challenging. As a next step in this learning process, I created the "Music Alphabet Mystery - Sneaking Up and Down the Stairs"  to help them review thinking backwards within the music alphabet.

Objectives:
  • To review stepping up and stepping down within the music alphabet 
  • To solidify the concept "stepping up = moving forwards in the music alphabet"
  • To solidify the concept "stepping down = moving backwards in the music alphabet"
  • To have the student say aloud each letter of the music alphabet stepping up and stepping down
  • To prepare students for speaking and playing 5-note scales/5-finger patterns
Materials:
  • This printable sheet
  • Plastic sheet protector
  • Dry erase markers
  • Eraser for dry erase markers
  • Timer if you wish to make this a timed activity for students who are already music alphabet savvy
Ages:
  • The first page, subtitled "Sneaking Up and Down the Stairs", is appropriate for younger students in the elementary grades
  • The second page, titled "Stepping Up and Down in the Music Alphabet", is appropriate for any age, including adult students
Levels:
  • Beginners who are working on reviewing the music alphabet and stepping up and down within it
  • Non-beginners who need reinforcement of stepping up and stepping down within the music alphabet 
Instructions:
  • Print out the sheet you wish to use with your student
  • Laminate it or place it in a plastic sheet protector
  • Give it to the student to complete either within the lesson or at home
  • Be sure the student is thinking backwards in the music alphabet, rather than simply copying the letters from the ascending stairs onto the descending stairs! You may wish to cover the ascending stairs with a small sticky note before the student tackles the descending stairs :)


Why Didn't I Think of That? - Objectives, Materials, and Other Music Education Headings

Yesterday I received in my inbox an email notifying me Susan Paradis had posted a new blog entry of a cute coloring sheet in the shape of a bunny, called Bunny to Color Piano Keys. I couldn't get there fast enough because I needed to print it out to give to my beginners this week. What an adorable activity, and perfect timing too! Once I arrived at her blog, I noticed something I had not noticed before. Susan used headings such as "objectives", "materials", "ages", etc., when writing her blog post. What a brilliant idea! I had used similar headings on lesson plans during my days of teaching classroom music education courses, but I had not thought to use the headings within my blog entries. I asked her about it and she said the idea came from her days as a classroom music educator :)

Listing objectives, materials, ages, and other headings in future blog posts will help clarify and organize my entries even more. Why didn't I think of that? 

Thanks a ton for the idea, Susan!

Oooh, this is going to be so much fun!! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pin the Tail on the Bunny - Categorizing Musical Instruments

In honor of my best girlfriend and favorite high school band director, Erica! 

For the next couple of weeks in my lessons, I plan to focus on the musical instrument families, studying instruments that my students have probably encountered elsewhere, such as their elementary music classroom, a middle or high school band, their church orchestra, or a local band. Eventually they will be introduced to additional instruments, learning more about the specifics of each family, and learning which instruments belong to the orchestra, band, elementary music classroom, etc., but for now, they will be learning to categorize a few familiar instruments into their families by playing "Pin the Tail on the Bunny". There are several pages to this game, and one or two instrument families could be studied per week. Also, because I don't have a laser printer yet, I created these pages with saving ink in mind, but I've also included a full-color version for those of you who prefer it.

1. Print the pages you need onto card stock. If you are printing the Ink-Saver version, you could use colored card stock for the bunnies if you wish.
2. Cut out the bunny tails and shuffle them so the families are mixed together.
3. Place the four large bunnies on a table, the floor, some chairs, or your piano bench, or you could attach each bunny to a different Easter basket.
4. Give the student the bunny tails, and have him or her place (pin) the instrument (tail) onto the correct instrument family (bunny).
5. After the Easter season has passed, you can continue using the "tails" as neutral game cards, placing them into baskets, buckets, etc., onto which you have labeled each instrument family's name, saving the bunnies and Easter theme for next year.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easter Egg Scramble

Sometimes very young piano students mistake three symbols in a measure for three beats, even though the three symbols might be "quarter-quarter-half note". This worksheet is for early beginners and helps them solidify the skill of counting the correct number of beats in each measure. It can also serve as a precursor to learning time signatures, which is what I am using it for this week with my three very little girls. Hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Milk Cap Stickers for Music Alphabet Mystery

Yesterday I posted the Music Alphabet Mystery pages, and I hope your students have enjoyed them (if you have students who need to review their letters!). I mentioned creating some milk cap stickers to go with the Music Alphabet Mystery pages to use as hands-on manipulatives instead of writing on the sheets with dry erase markers, so here they are. There are three sets of stickers, each color-coordinated with the pages of the Music Alphabet Mystery. Cut them out on/around the lines, and stick them onto the tops your upcycled milk caps! They should fit perfectly. I have also found that caps from flavored water bottles such as Sobe and Vitamin Water work well too!



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Music Alphabet Mystery

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have two young students who just started lessons in February. One is in kindergarten and one is in first grade. We do lots of activities to review their letter names, both forwards and backwards. This week for their lessons, I decided to create a different kind of review for them. The Music Alphabet Mystery offers a series of three letters of the music alphabet, and one is missing. Students must supply the missing letter to solve the mystery!

The first page lists the first two letters in the series, and students must fill in the third letter. The second page omits the second letter of each series, and the third page omits the first letter in each series. Each successive page is slightly more difficult than the previous one, and each page contains a blank box where you (or your students) may write a bonus series. As always, I will place these sheets in a plastic sheet protector and have my students use dry erase markers to complete them. They LOVE writing with dry erase markers. Maybe I could create some milk cap stickers to go with these sheets...

For next week's lessons, I have decided to try a different version of the Music Alphabet Mystery with my students, with all letters going in reverse order! My young students have been working on saying their music alphabet forwards and backwards, and this activity will continue to help them solidify those skills in a slightly different way.


Is That Your Real Name??

Last night my husband and I went out to dinner at a quiet and lovely place in the downtown area of our city. One of my sweet piano students had given me a gift certificate to this particular restaurant for Christmas, so we decided to use it to pay for our dinner. The gift certificate was written to “Mrs. Melody”, and the cashier smiled and said how cute it was that the gift certificate actually said “Mrs. Melody” rather than using my first and last name. I told her one of my piano students had given it to me. She quickly asked, “Is that your real name?”, thinking I was using “Mrs. Melody” as a “piano teacher stage name” of sorts. “Yes, this is my real name,” I smiled. Believe it or not, she is not the first person to ask if I made it up!

I enjoy having a musical name because it often creates an easy topic of conversation, especially with those who are prospective additions to my studio. For my young beginners, when they learn what a melody is, they always look up at me from the piano bench with huge smiles on their faces!

Do any of you have stories about given names that match/complement your professional activities and/or hobbies? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt - Middle C Position Notes

This may or may not be the last Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt that I post ;)

This one is a bit different from the others. The first page contains the clues that are to be cut out and placed inside the plastic eggs, and the second page is a worksheet that includes multiple examples of all of the notes of Middle C Position, notated on a grand staff. 

When the student finds an egg and opens it to reveal a specific note of Middle C Position (spelled out in words, such as "bass clef A"), he identifies all of the bass clef A's on the sheet by writing "A" near each one. The student continues searching for eggs and identifying notes until the entire sheet is complete, or until you run out of time :) The sheet is placed in a plastic sheet protector so the student can write on it with dry erase markers. You simply erase it and use it again with another student.  


Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt - Elementary and DIY Versions

As promised, here are the Elementary and DIY versions of the Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt. Instructions for the Elementary version are the same as for the Early Elementary version. The DIY version is a blank template that you can fill out in any way you wish! Please enjoy.



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt - Very Early Elementary

How many of your students would love going on an Easter egg hunt during their lessons? My elementary students do, and I am always looking for new ways of reviewing musical concepts so that my students (and I!) don't get bored. I have two young students, kindergarten and first grade, who just began lessons in February, and I wanted to give them an Easter activity to do. Here is a printable for my Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for very early elementary students. The first page contains the musical symbols that should be cut out and placed inside of plastic Easter eggs and "hidden" around your studio. The second page contains a list of vocabulary terms that match the symbols in the eggs. I put the second page inside a plastic sheet protector so students could mark out the items as they found the corresponding symbols. I use only about half of the symbols/terms each week for time reasons and for the fact that I can use the same game during multiple lessons with the same student, having them search for only a few of the eggs each week. That way, I can review the same terms during subsequent lessons if the student needs additional review, or I can review "new" symbols each week. I also plan to use some Easter Bunny tracks from Activity Village as "proof" that the Easter Bunny hid some eggs in my studio :) I hope you and your students enjoy.

An Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt for elementary students and a blank scavenger hunt template in which you may fill in your own vocabulary terms and symbols will be posted in the next day or two.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From the Mouths of Students... "Slurps"

Learning the terminology of musical concepts can be very foreign to elementary-level students, and the words can sound and feel awkward when pronounced for the first time. When one of my kindergarten students was learning about slurs, she decided that they should be called "slurps" instead because "slurps" was so much more fun to say! I must confess, I agreed, so from that day forward, each time she encountered slurs in her pieces, we affectionately referred to them as slurps, with a gentle reminder, smile, and wink, that they are *really* called slurs.

From the mouths of students... Another comment that makes me smile :)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Piano Keyboard Review

When I came across these cute keyboards the other day on one of the terrific public domain clipart sites I have enjoyed visiting, I couldn't resist creating a review sheet for my students who are learning the letter names of the piano keys. This sheet can be used at home, during the lesson, as a timed activity, as a "say and play" activity in which students say the letter name of the marked key and play the same key on the piano, and many more! The simple format makes it appropriate for all ages of beginning-level piano students.



Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Award Certificate for Completing 1st Set of Piano Books

This week was a huge milestone for my sweet little 2nd grader, who completed her first set of piano books, the Alfred's Premier Piano Course Level 1A books. She was incredibly excited, and I was extremely pleased with how well she had learned all of the concepts in those books. She was also eager to tell me that her first set of books was "landscape" and her next set would be "portrait". She had learned those words in her art class that day! In celebration of her accomplishment of completing all pieces in her books and all pages in her theory book, and to emphasize how proud of her I was, I found a terrific free pre-made music award certificate online, filled it out, printed it on photo paper, and presented it to her in her lesson yesterday. She was so excited and proud, and so was her mom :) It's wonderful to find out what makes our students happy, and what kinds of awards/praise to which they respond best. For this student, positive reinforcement (words, the certificate, showing my excitement overtly) has a tremendous impact on how this student views her own successes. Will I continue to present her with certificates as she completes each set of books? As long as she responds positively and excitedly to them, you bet I will. Will I continue discovering exactly what kinds of positive reinforcement (positive words, certificates, stickers, high-fives, emails, etc.) work best for each of my students? Absolutely.

Here is the original certificate I found at Making Music Fun, and the filled-out version is below. I did not include her real name on the certificate for the purpose of this post, but I used her real name on her "official" certificate.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Half Note and Quarter Rest Discovery Sheets

As promised, here are the Half Note and Quarter Rest Discovery sheets! The Half Note Discovery sheet was corrected on 4/25/12.






Quarter Note Discovery

My youngest student, an adorable and energetic little girl in kindergarten who started lessons February 7, informed me last week that she would rather play games than learn the "songs". Was I surprised? Not really. Of course kids love to play, and they learn best when they are having fun! That challenges me to continue teaching her without really letting her know she is being taught :) Giving activities fun titles, using fun fonts, and letting her use markers and crayons during the lessons are only a few of the things I do with her each week. These small things make a big impact on her desire to come to piano lessons, and they also continue to contribute to her musical education in a way that makes me feel good about what she is learning, but in a way that is super-fun for her! Here is the latest sheet that I made for her to review pre-staff quarter notes for right and left hands. I will place this in a plastic sheet protector, then she can use dry erase markers to complete the sheet during her lesson. She LOVES dry erase markers! Quarter Rest Discovery and Half Note Discovery will be coming soon... Hope you enjoy!


Monday, March 05, 2012

10 to Win! Review Game

My elementary students love playing 10 to Win! This is a game that can be played with your students as early as the first few lessons.

1. Print out the cards onto card stock, cut between the dotted lines, and select the cards you wish to use during the lesson. For example, if you are reviewing the piano keys, choose all of the cards related to piano keys. If you are reviewing dynamics, choose the cards related to dynamics, etc. 
2. The student draws the first card from the deck, which has been shuffled and placed face down. 
3. If the student can correctly execute the what the card tells him to do, he wins the card and 1 point. 
4. He continues drawing cards until he misses an answer. 
5. Then it is your turn to draw cards until you "miss" an answer :) 
6. The first one to get 10 cards/points wins!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Why Didn't I Think of That? - Plastic Sheet Protectors & Dry Erase Markers

I absolutely love giving my students extra worksheets, handouts, etc., to test their knowledge or grasp of a concept, drill their speed, or simply to give them something "different" to work on during the week. That uses a LOT of paper and printer ink! One week I sent a sheet home with a student and I put it in a plastic sheet protector and asked her not to write on it, but just to use it as a visual drill (I was trying to save a few cents on paper and ink!). She came back the next week and said she had done what I had said, but she had also used dry erase markers to complete the worksheet, and then used an eraser to erase her answers and complete the worksheet over again every day! What a terrific idea! Now all my students are required to purchase dry erase markers when they begin piano lessons, and I place all of my worksheets in plastic sheet protectors. This helps me save money, allows my students to complete the worksheets more than once during the week, and my youngest students have a blast writing on the plastic with a "marker".

Using plastic sheet protectors to protect the worksheets BEFORE completing them...
Why didn't I think of that? :)

Musical Spelling Bee

This week our local newspaper showcased an area middle school student who had made it to the regional spelling bee for the first time and was excited to follow in his sister's footsteps, as she had participated in it for the past four years. This gave me the idea to create a Musical Spelling Bee sheet for students to give them a way to review their note names in a way that would be relevant to them during "spelling bee season" at school. There are many words that can be spelled using only the letters of the music alphabet, and Music Matters Blog offers a list containing many great words as well as a unique and fun spelling bee idea to use in the group lesson setting! Here is the spelling bee sheet I created. Clipart courtesy of Public Domain Clipart.


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