I had the privilege of attending the KMTA annual conference over the weekend. This year’s keynote speakers were Randy and Nancy Faber, so it was not to be missed!!! Natalie has posted a wonderful summary of many of the weekend’s sessions over on the Music Matters Blog, which is definitely worth a look if you haven’t already checked it out. I picked up some new ideas that I was anxious to try right away, so here’s a peek at what a few of my Monday morning beginner students got to try today:
In the Fabers’ opening session, they showed video clips of several fun, hands-on activities geared for young piano students. The thing that really caught my eye was their floor staff (theirs appeared to be part of the carpet, mine is colored painter’s tape). In working with a young student, Nancy used small beanie baby-like animals to explore lines and spaces on the floor staff.
There were several clips that showed the use of beanie babies, plus they were mentioned in another session on technique, so I decided it was worth picking up a few! I was lucky enough to have a friend that’s done several garage sales over the past year, and had several sets that hadn’t sold, so went and picked up some from her. If you’re looking for these, garage sales would be great place to start. Beanbags or other small stuffed animals or even toy cars would also work for this activity.
The student in the video clip was practicing moving up the staff lines by racing her dad to the top. I had a set of step and skip cards in my closet that I’ve used with students on a keyboard before, so pulled them out this morning and raced all of my students with our beanie babies! We started at the bottom of the staff. Students simply turned over a green card (which said “up” or “down”) and then a blue card (which said “step” or “skip”) and moved accordingly. As we moved, we always said “Skip: Line to line” or “Step: Line to space”, etc. to reinforce the action. Really simple, but the kids (especially the little boys) loved it!
The step and skip cards are available for download on my studio site. You’ll want to print several copies of each page of the file. There are a few more “up” cards than “down” cards to ensure that someone will eventually make it to the top. For a faster game, play with less “down” cards in the deck.
I’m anxious to try a couple of other activities with the floor staff lines, so watch for more coming soon!