Friday, November 30, 2012

Joy to the World Vintage Christmas Banner Printable

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year for lots of reasons, one of which is that I get to decorate my studio! This year I was inspired by banners such as this one, this one, a few others, and all those terrific ornaments made from vintage sheet music, to create my own vintage-look Joy to the World Christmas Banner.

Print pages 2 through 5 on white or beige card stock, cut out, and display them however you wish. You could punch holes in them and thread ribbon through the holes to hang them, as in the two links above, or you might even want to (as I did) tape them to the mantel (it is marble, so tape seemed to be the easiest solution for now!) Mine are hanging on my mantel near the Christmas tree, and they are the first thing I see when entering the studio. Thinking about the words of "Joy to the World" makes me so incredibly thankful, joyful, and blessed, and what better way to feel just before teaching the first lesson of the day?

"Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Referral Prizes for Students - Free Lesson Ticket

I am so excited to announce that my studio is full, at least for the moment! I'm going to take a month or two to get accustomed to my current teaching schedule and will begin adding more students in January. It has been a tremendously exciting couple of months! However, the previous two years living in a new and small rural town required a lot of hard work to build my studio.

This entry is not about all the marketing strategies I used to recruit new students because there are lots of other wonderful blogs out there about that (ComposeCreate, Color in My Piano, Music Matters Blog, and Notable Music Studio just to name a few!). This entry is about the prize I give to my current students for referring new students who enroll for lessons in my studio. The prize is given only when the new student enrolls for lessons. 

Just yesterday I had the privilege of offering this prize to one of my students. She was ecstatic to receive it! Here is what her prize included:

  • A $10 iTunes card
  • A ticket redeemable for one free lesson of the student's choice (duets, jazz, lead sheets, Christmas music, whatever topic the student desires), to be redeemed at a mutually convenient time

The free lesson ticket can be downloaded and printed out for use with your own students. I like to print mine on colored card stock. It fits perfectly in an envelope. I placed the ticket and iTunes card in the envelope and marked it "Special Delivery" and gave it to my student at the end of her lesson yesterday. It was a fun way to end the day!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Easy (and Inexpensive!) Way to Video Record a "Skype + Live" Recital

October 20, 2012, was my piano studio's "Happy Fall, Y'all!" costume recital, and seven of my pre-college students performed: one live via Skype from Louisiana, and six here in the studio in Virginia. I previously wrote about my Skype piano experiences here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

More Musical Spelling Bees: Treble & Bass

It was a pleasant surprise to find one of my handouts being used on Mrs. Q's Music Blog yesterday! The original Musical Spelling Bee was listed as one of her classroom resources that could be used when a sub was teaching for the day. Her class needed a spelling bee with only treble clef notes, so here are two more Musical Spelling Bees: Bass & Treble. Please enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Fall, Y'all! It's a Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt!

My parents are traveling from Mississippi to visit very soon, and one of the fun day trips we have planned is to enjoy a local pumpkin patch, complete with a corn maze, hay ride, field full of perfect orange pumpkins, and "punkin' chunkin'"! That trip gave me the idea to take the Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt, make a few changes, and offer it as an autumn-themed sheet that can be customized and used throughout October and November. The rules and directions are the same as for the original scavenger hunt. Instead of using an Easter basket to collect the eggs, students may use a Jack-'o-lantern or any other type of container for collecting the "pumpkins". Please enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Candy Corn Finger Numbers

Fall has definitely arrived in southwest Virginia! The muted yellows, oranges, and reds of the trees are deepening daily. Halloween candy is on sale in every store, and that makes me want to eat Candy Corn! However, instead of eating it, I decided to make a game of it for students who are learning and reviewing finger numbers. That's much healthier and more educational, don't you think? :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ending the Day on a Perfect Note

The following photos are the front and back of a note I received from one of my sweet 3rd graders yesterday when she arrived for her lesson. What a perfect way to end an excellent day of lessons, tears included!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

804 Miles to My Next Lesson: Teaching Piano Lessons Online via Skype

Tuesday is a wonderful day in my studio, for many reasons. One of the primary reasons is that I get to teach a terrific student who lives 804 miles from me! Thanks to online videoconferencing tools such as Skype, teaching lessons via the Internet is becoming more and more popular among teachers all over the world. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Student Compositions: Following Your Lead!

Do your students enjoy composing? Mine do! What steps do you take to help them learn to compose?

Yesterday in Ashlyn's lesson, we took some time to explore composition. Ashlyn, age 7, has had lessons for just under four months, and she has begun to read a few notes on the staff. I told her that we would be working together so that she could compose her very own piece of music, using the notes that she knows. Here is the process we followed, and the end result! Read on to take a glimpse into our composition session yesterday, which took only about 8 to 10 minutes of the 30-minute lesson.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Great Sight-Reading Challenge!

Summer lessons are wrapping up this week! Already! I can hardly believe it. There is a three-week break between the end of my summer session and the beginning of the fall semester, and I wanted to have my students do something beneficial and easy to ensure they spend at least a little time at the piano during the break. I created "The Great Sight-Reading Challenge" to give them some motivation and to challenge them to read three pieces or sight-reading flash cards/exercises each day that they are at the piano between now and August 13. I had forgotten the name of Jenny's "Summer Sightreading Challenge" when I named mine, so I hope she doesn't mind the very similar-sounding title :)

  • To encourage my students to become better sight-readers
  • To challenge my students to practice their sight-reading skills during our break
  • To have my students sight-read 40 items during the next three weeks (brief version)
  • To have my students sight-read 240 items during the next 16 weeks (semester version)
  • Any age!
  • Beginners through advanced students will benefit from this challenge
  • The Great Sight-Reading Challenge sheet
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Lots of appropriately-leveled sight-reading materials
  • Print out The Great Sight-Reading Challenge sheet below.
  • Have students sight-read 3 pieces/selections/items each day for at least 5 days per week.
  • For each 3 pieces they sight-read, they should color one star on the sheet.
  • They are sight-reading 3 selections during their lessons this week to get a head start on the challenge!

For more sight-reading posts: 

**Updated version is now called "Sight-Read Like A Rockstar" and can be purchased at the following shop:

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Shiver Me Technique!" and "Technique is Sweet!" Pirate-Themed and Cupcake-Themed Technique Packs

Getting ready for lessons to begin in August has been so much fun this week! I have been thinking about what to do regarding a bulletin board/visible incentive of some kind for my beginners, and decided that this year, technique is the way to go! These two printables, "Shiver Me Technique!" and "Technique is Sweet!" include some elementary technical demands that beginning students need to conquer. The idea for this project came from Wendy Chan's RCM Grades 1 and 2 Technique sheets at Piano Escapades, so thanks to Wendy for the inspiration!

**Updated 6/17/13 to include 16 pages per set! Click here to purchase.

  • To give young beginners a visual aid of the technical requirements they will be studying during the coming months
  • To give students a visual means of keeping track of their technical progress
  • To create a bit of healthy competition among the students in my studio :)
  • Beginners

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Five Core Values of Great Leaders" Applied to Piano Teachers

This morning as I was following my daily ritual of scanning through various social media sites of interest, I discovered this gem from Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership Advisor: "Five Core Values of Great Leaders". Please take just a moment to read the article before continuing to read this blog entry.

Photo from
Did you notice how easy it is to apply those five core values to piano/music instruction? In a few words, here's my take on how these principles can be applied within the piano studio.

1. Love Your Team. First you must define your team. My team includes my students, their families, their friends, and any others who contribute to their musical growth. By building relationships with the families and friends who are part of your studio, you are letting them know that you care about them as individuals, and this will create a huge amount of trust within your studio. Recognize what they are going through, lend an ear when they need it, offer the best instruction possible, let them know you care about them, and they will be loyal contributors to your studio as well as the music community as a whole. Love your students.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creating Attractive Newsletters Using FREE Digital Scrapbooking Supplies!

There are so many great templates for newsletters out there! However, many of those templates are for software programs that I do not have at the moment, so I decided to create my own newsletter template using Microsoft Word (publishing view), digital scrapbooking supplies (they were FREE!), public domain clipart (also FREE!), and inspiration from other templates that I found online.

The first thing I did was search (using Google, Bing, etc.) for a template and a "look" that I liked and would enjoy using. I decided to use the first one on this page. Aren't they all great? I really loved the look of them, so I scrolled down to the comments section to see if the designer offered any information on where she got her digital scrapbooking supplies, which she did! Hers originated from but she found them on specific blogs that were offering freebies. CraftCrave is really terrific, so take a look! Simply click the link, then click any of the freebie links on that page. You'll be amazed. Really. There are templates, word arts, papers, embellishments, the list goes on and on! All you have to do is download them!

The CraftCrave website wasn't responding yesterday when I was working on my newsletter, so I did a search for free digital scrapbook supplies and was directed to a page containing these links: Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, Shabby Princess, Peppermint CreativeComputer Scrapbook, well, you get the idea :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts on "How I Made $100,000 My First Year as a Piano Teacher" by Kristin K. Yost

Image from
It's that time of year when piano teachers everywhere are busily preparing for the end of the spring semester, getting ready for summer lessons, groups, and camps, and making changes and updates to policies. For the past couple of weeks, I have been scouring blogs, piano studio websites, and other pages searching for tried-and-true pedagogical ideas, inspiration, and additional business and marketing advice.

Rewind to 2009 to Kristin K. Yost's earth-shattering conference session in which she announced that she, a piano teacher, had earned $100,000 her first year of teaching! I must admit, I was a little skeptical. I had been teaching privately for several years at that point, and I was now a full-time faculty member at a private college. Needless to say, $100K wasn't even on my radar. My wonderful piano pedagogy graduate student Desiree (check our her blog here!) and I scratched our heads in skepticism, with brows raised, and, unable to attend the conference that year, continued to wonder what we were missing...

Dotted Half Note Discovery

To add to the "Discovery" series of worksheets available on this blog, here is the next installment! Click to view Whole Note Discovery, Quarter Note Discovery, Quarter Rest Discovery, and Half Note Discovery. This Dotted Half Note Discovery is a review sheet students can complete after learning about the dotted half note. You can place it in a plastic sheet protector (I find the glossy ones to work best) and use it again and again! As I have mentioned before, my beginners LOVE using dry erase markers :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Where is Finger 1?" Finger Number Twirls

My youngest and tiniest student had her 7th lesson today. She is two years old and an absolute joy! We have been focusing on one letter of the music alphabet each week, and today we wrapped up with Letter G (more about that later), so it was time to begin working on finger numbers together. I wanted to create something that would be cute, fun, and memorable for a Pre-K child to use to identify finger numbers. I thought about using a ring with a number 1 on it to identify her thumbs as finger 1, but I didn't have any rings so I decided to use finger puppets instead. There are quite a few cute finger puppet templates from which to choose if you search online hard enough, but I couldn't find any with numbers on them, so I decided to make my own!

  • To teach finger number 1 to my youngest student, age 2
  • To offer a fun way to remember finger number 1
  • To incorporate movement and singing into learning finger numbers
  • Pre-K through early elementary
  • Young beginners
  • Print the colored zebra number circles onto white card stock, or print the black and white zebra number circles onto white or colored card stock
  • Cut out the circles you need (I cropped and pasted and decreased the size of the circles until I had 4 small sets of numbers 1 to 5 on the same page, two for my student and two for me)
  • Cut the pipe cleaners in half with wire cutters
  • Wrap about 80% of the short pipe cleaner around a pencil or your pinky to create a corkscrew shape (a "twirl")
  • Hot glue the zebra number circle to the straight end of the pipe cleaner
  • Place on your student's thumbs and get ready to sing this little "piggyback song" (song that uses a familiar tune but has new words) that I made up. Sing to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"
    • Where is finger 1? Where is finger 1? {sing with hands behind back}
    • Here I am! Here I am! {bring thumbs from behind back}
    • Wiggle finger 1. Wiggle finger 1. {wiggle thumbs}
    • Twirl around. Twirl around. {spin around in a circle}

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Music Alphabet Mystery - Sneaking UP the Stairs

This week I needed a simpler version of the original Music Alphabet Mystery that didn't sneak down the stairs as well as up them, so here it is!

  • To review stepping up within the music alphabet 
  • To solidify the concept "stepping up = moving forwards in the music alphabet"
  • To have the student say aloud each letter of the music alphabet stepping up 
  • To prepare students for speaking and playing 5-note scales/5-finger patterns
  • 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
  • The first page, subtitled "Sneaking Up the Stairs", is appropriate for younger students in the elementary grades
  • The second page, titled "Stepping Up in the Music Alphabet", is appropriate for any age, including adult students
  • Beginners who are working on the music alphabet and stepping up within it
  • Non-beginners who need reinforcement of stepping up within the music alphabet 
  • Print out the sheet you wish to use with your student
  • Laminate it or place it in a plastic sheet protector (I find the glossy ones work best)
  • Give it to the student to complete either within the lesson or at home

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"Simon Says..." RH/LH, Finger Numbers, and Piano Keys Review Game

{Updated 7/20/2015 with a brand new version of this game called "Beethoven Says". You can find it in my TpT store by clicking here. Enjoy!}

I have an adorable kindergarten student who just had her eighth piano lesson yesterday. She is still having a little bit of trouble with her finger numbers (especially LH 4, 3, 2 and RH 2, 3, 4) and remembering which hand is her right hand and which is her left hand, but she does extremely well when I ask her to play, for example, all the D's on the piano. I decided to play a game of "Simon Says..." with her yesterday, incorporating right and left hands, finger numbers, and piano keys, and she loved it! She was great at playing the correct piano keys, so that was very reinforcing for her, and she had to think about her right hand and left hand and finger numbers, which was also a great review! Sneaky, sneaky, Mrs. Melody :)

  • To review right hand and left hand
  • To review all finger numbers 1 through 5 in random order
  • To review all piano keys by letter name, A through G, in random order
  • Piano keyboard (or multiple keyboards if using this activity in a group lesson)
  • The printable included below
  • Student(s) :)
  • This game is best for young elementary students and older Pre-K students
  • Beginners
  • I have included a table below that includes all the possible combinations of hand, finger, and piano key (I hope!). You could cut out each row of the table and place it in a bowl, then the student can draw a slip of paper, or you could draw the slips of paper yourself to save time, or you could "randomly" call out combinations from the table, leaving the sheet intact.
  • Simply choose right or left hand, then a finger number, then a piano key.
  • For example, you might say, in a very dramatic fashion with pauses if you wish, "Simon Says... with Right Hand... Finger 2... play all the F's." Be sure to pause long enough between each instruction so the student has time to figure out exactly what you are asking her to do.
  • Play for as long and as often as you like, or as much as the student needs to play to review everything sufficiently!
"Simon Says..." RH/LH, Finger Numbers, and Piano Keys Review Game


Updated 7/20/2015 with a brand new version of this game called "Beethoven Says". You can find it in my TpT store by clicking here. Enjoy! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Using Jane Magrath's "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature"

Jane Magrath's book, "The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature", is an invaluable resource for teachers of all levels of experience, from new teachers who currently are building their studios to veteran teachers who have years of experience and a waiting list a mile long. I remember purchasing my copy while still an undergraduate student, and I have used it faithfully year after year to assist in planning long-term curriculum, specific lessons, and recital repertoire for my pre-college, college, and adult students. We also spent hours using it as a resource in our graduate piano pedagogy classes at Louisiana State University. (Tons of thanks to our professor Steve Betts for incorporating this book into our classes!)

The guide contains descriptions of thousands of elementary through early-advanced pieces from the Baroque through Contemporary periods, and it is organized chronologically by musical style period, with the composers of each period listed and discussed alphabetically within the period. Major and minor works of each composer are discussed in detail, and a specific level from 1 to 10 is assigned to each piece. This great leveling system is included in the front of the book and lists specific examples from the standard literature offered as representative pieces of each level. For example, the first volume of Bartok's Mikrokosmos is labeled as Level 1, the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook's selections are labeled as Level 4, Bach's easier Two-Part Inventions are labeled as Level 7, and Beethoven's Sonatas, Op. 49 and Op. 79 are labeled as Level 10.

I refer to "The Pianist's Guide" frequently, using it as a resource for discovering "new" repertoire for my students, organizing the literature they study into levels that progress smoothly from easier to more difficult literature, and exposing them to some wonderful composers that are perhaps less famous than great masters such as Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven with whom they are most familiar. I also use this reference as a way to find, for example, all of the Level 2 pieces from the Classical period (I keep lists of these searches, which we began in graduate school, in a binder arranged according to level), especially when I am teaching multiple students who are studying music of the same level of difficulty and who need to play a variety of pieces for a specific recital or festival.

Using the levels from "The Pianist's Guide" as a standard gives me the luxury of maintaining one organized way of thinking about the many levels of elementary through early-advanced literature, especially when I am teaching from a variety of different collections and using many different series that each assign their own levels to their specific teaching materials. This organized thought process helps to ensure that I assign literature to my students that progresses smoothly from level to level and that I provide pieces for them that gradually move from elementary literature into more advanced literature in an organized and sequential fashion.

There are several collections of standard literature Jane Magrath has compiled and edited that follow the leveling system of "The Pianist's Guide". Stay tuned for more information on these wonderful collections!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Upcycled Ear Plugs Boxes

I have the most unfortunate "gift" of being a very light sleeper. A result of this inability to fall asleep without absolute silence is the purchase of multiple boxes of ear plugs on a regular basis. The boxes are small, plastic, and slightly opaque, and I have always hated throwing them away because there just HAD to be a way to upcycle them! I finally decided what to do with them as soon as they are empty of ear plugs: I use them for storing small flash cards (I printed two pages of the instrument flash cards per sheet of card stock, so they fit very well!), small manipulatives, paper clips, game pieces, stickers, and lots of other things! I also send them home with students when I allow them to borrow different sets of small flash cards that I have created. What are some additional ways they could be used?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whole Note Discovery

To add to the "Discovery" series of worksheets available on this blog, here is the next installment! Click to view Quarter Note Discovery, Quarter Rest Discovery, and Half Note Discovery. This Whole Note Discovery is a review sheet students can complete after learning about the whole note. You can place it in a plastic sheet protector and use it again and again! As I have mentioned before, my beginners LOVE using dry erase markers :)

  • To review the whole note
  • To review the number of beats in a whole note
  • To review counting a whole note
  • To practice drawing a whole note
  • This printable sheet
  • Plastic sheet protector
  • Dry erase markers (red and blue)
  • Eraser for dry erase markers
  • This sheet was designed with young elementary students in mind, but older students may use it as well.
  • Beginners who have just learned the whole note 
  • Elementary students who need to review the whole note
  • Teenage and adult beginners who need to review the whole note
  • Print this sheet 
  • Laminate it or place it in a plastic sheet protector
  • Give it to the student to complete either within the lesson or at home

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lots More Musical Instrument Flash Cards!

***6/21/14 Update***

The updated and better-than-ever flash cards are now located in my TpT store! Click this link and you'll be taken directly to their page. Thanks :)

Here is a sample pic:

Original post:

Here are 24 more musical instrument flash cards that you can print out to use with your students! Click if you would like to see the first set of Musical Instrument Flash Cards and instructions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Musical Instrument Flash Cards - Supplement for Pin the Tail on the Bunny

***6/21/14 Update***

The updated and better-than-ever flash cards are now located in my TpT store! Click this link and you'll be taken directly to their page. Thanks :)

Here is a sample pic:

Original post:

This weekend I decided to create some musical instrument flash cards to supplement Pin the Tail on the Bunny so that my students will be able to continue practicing identifying instruments after Easter has passed. These cards contain the same instruments as Pin the Tail on the Bunny, with a couple of additions. There are three pages of cards that include the names of the instruments on the cards, and there are three pages of the same cards that do not include the names of the instruments on the cards. I do plan to create additional sets that will contain more instruments that are not included in the current set, so if you would like to see any particular instruments on the cards, please let me know and I will do my best to include them!

  • To give students additional ways to review musical instruments
  • To help students learn to spell the names of musical instruments
  • To help students recognize musical instruments by their pictures
  • To review musical instrument families by organizing the cards into correct family groups
  • White card stock
  • Printer
  • Any age, especially elementary students
  • Any level, especially students who have not studied musical instruments in the past
  • Print the cards onto white card stock 
  • Cut along the dotted lines and shuffle the cards
  • Show one card at a time to the student, and have the student name the instrument
  • Another option is to have the student draw a card from the deck and name the instrument
  • These cards could be used instead of the "bunny tails" from Pin the Tail on the Bunny to organize the instruments into their families
  • Students could take home the cards with the instrument names on them so they could learn the instruments, then they could use the unlabeled cards during their lessons to check their knowledge of the names of the instruments
  • There are many games you could play with these cards, so feel free to use your imagination and post a comment to let me know what you chose to do with them!

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.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 
  • 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 8, 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.

Tuesday, March 6, 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 5, 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 1, 2012

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.