Does anyone remember the old “How Are You Feeling Today” posters that used to hang on the wall in clinic waiting rooms and school counselor’s offices?
It gives us a great opportunity to talk about what physical and technical things we do as musicians to express an abstract emotion (great for those young concrete-thinkers!). Students choose dynamics, tempos, articulations, even ranges of the piano that help them to create a sounds that matches the emotion they are trying to convey. The bigger the contrast between ideas, the better. Playing an expression that’s totally wrong for a piece of music can really help students to understand what techniques they need to use to make it sound right. An activity like this is a great way to make any part of a lesson more fun and musical – from repertoire, to sightreading to scales!
I use the 2-face version with my elementary kids, but also made a 4-face version to use with older students who can handle more ideas at once. A couple of my middle school students have had fun using emoticons (AKA, those “texting” faces :)) to create expressions:
The 2- and 4- face graphics are available for download on the Studio Aids page of this site. You’ll find a couple of different format options: JPEG images that can be downloaded and used with iPad Whiteboard apps (I recently picked up an iPad for my studio and LOVE it!), and also printable PDF versions that can be laminated and used with dry erase markers.