Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summertime Piano Fun

This blog is named Prairie Scraps because it is about the scraps of my life, living on the prairie.  Right now, because I've taken on 17 students for piano lessons, my life is about piano lessons.  I'm wading my way through trying to be a good piano teacher!

I had, what I think is traditional, classical piano lessons.  I began lessons at the age of 7, when I was a proficient reader, and took lessons until 8th grade.  I worked my way through method books as most students probably did.  As I entered high school, I really wanted to sing in choir, and not be the accompanist, so when  I moved to a new school my Sophomore year, I quit playing and never told anyone I played piano. 

Jump ahead a few years, I enrolled in college in the Music Therapy school, and had to take Piano Proficiency classes.  In the first class, I realized I was far to advanced for the class, and subsequently, tested out of all Piano Proficiency.  The teacher I had, convinced me to sign up for private piano lesson, too, so I minored on piano for all four years.

Piano lessons were straight forward.  I wouldn't say that lessons were boring, but let's face it, I didn't necessarily find joy in going.  I've been doing a lot of research and searching, and have come to realize that lessons can be fun and educational at the same time.  As a Music Therapist, I like to think of myself as more creative in my teaching style, than the traditional, straight from the method book approach. (Not that this type of teaching is bad, I'm just looking to find my teaching groove, as well as set myself apart from the other traditional teachers in my area.)

So, as I go into my first summer with lessons, my summer lesson goal is to help my students learn and have lots of fun!!  So each lesson this summer, I plan to have a new game or activity of some sort to play with them.

This first week, I drew a huge chalk keyboard on the sidewalk leading to my studio.  It's not perfect, but you get the idea. 
Ideas for educational games using the giant keyboard:
  • Musical Spelling Bee:
    • NEED: Chalk, Musical word Cards (words spelled using the musical alphabet like, BEG, GAB, EBB, BAG, etc.), 3-5 Splash Balls (I found these at the Dollar Tree for 2 for $1.
    • PLAY: I randomly showed the student the card, and they placed the Splash Balls in order on the keys to spell the word.  I started with 3 letter words, and only went on to 4 letter words, but you could do as many letters as you can find.
    • CONCEPTS: Letter names of keys, Sequencing of word letters, gross motor skills
  • Musical Rhythm Hopscotch
    • NEED: Chalk
    • PLAY: Have student write as many rhythms as they can on the sidewalk. then have them hop the rhythms on the keyboard.
    • CONCEPTS: Rhythms, Sequencing, gross motor skills, rhythm recognition
  • Keyboard Twister
    • NEED: Chalk, Spinner with RH, LH, RF, LF with musical alphabet written for each on the spinner places. See my Dollar Tree Spinner Here.
    • PLAY: Spin the spinner to direct where to place hands and feet on the keyboard, such as: RH - G, RF - E, etc. Student follows directions.
    • CONCETPS: Letter recognition on keys, gross motor skills
  • Beanbag Toss
    • NEED: Chalk, beanbags, Staff white board, dry erase marker
    • PLAY: Have student toss the beanbag on the keyboard and then write the note on the staff.
    • CONCEPTS: Note recognition, staff note recognition
 I'm sure there are a lot more ideas for using this keyboard outside. After playing the first one with my students, they were really concerned about what I would do if it rained! (It did rain during my final lesson of the day.)