Ah… summertime! As I write this, I’m sitting on my back deck with my laptop, enjoying a little sunshine and fresh air, and a couple of weeks off of teaching before summer lessons start. It’s nice to have a little bit of downtime to get back to some creative projects for the studio… and also have a chance to share a few of the new fun things we’ve done in lessons over the last couple of months!
Here’s a fun little race game we played at group lessons last month that turned listening practice into a competitive sport:
To play, students divided into two teams, and moved to opposite sides of the room. We set up a bell on a stool in the middle of the room, and taped off starting lines on the floor that each team had to stay behind.
Each team was given a set of listening race cards, that included the following categories and terms:
Piano, Mezzo Piano, Mezzo Forte, Forte
Staccato, Legato, Accented
Andante, Moderato, Allegro
Happy, Sad, Angry, Scary
The melody is in the…
Bass Clef, Treble Clef
Students laid their cards out on the floor, arranged by category. Each team chose a player to start.
I called out a category (i.e. touch, dynamic, tonality, etc.), then played a short excerpt at the piano. As soon as the music stopped, students raced to pick up the card from that category that best fit what they heard, then race to ring the bell with the card in hand. After each play, we noted points, then moved on to the next players.
First player to ring bell, has correct card in hand = 2 points (per card)
If first player to ring bell has an incorrect card, and other player has correct card, the player with the correct card receives 1 point (per card)
False start (step across line before music has stopped) = -1 point
Once students were comfortable identifying one musical category, we moved on to identifying 2 categories at a time (i.e. tonality and tempo), then 3 categories and so on. The first team to reach 20 points won the game.
In a couple of groups, I let students take turns playing excerpts from their own repertoire pieces at the piano. They quickly discovered how much they had to exaggerate characteristics at the piano in order to have their peers hear what they wanted them to!
The cards are available for download on the Group Activities page. I’d suggest printing these on heavy cardstock and laminating them – they take a bit of a beating when the kids get competitive!