I’m delighted to have a large group of new beginning students in my studio this fall. I love how enthusiastic and uninhibited first-year piano students are, and all of the games and activities that we get to do at beginning lessons are just plain fun!
I like to start to introduce white key names from the very first lesson, even though my favorite method books start students exclusively on the black keys. I’ve found that for many students, it’s easier to introduce the white keys little by little, rather than all at once when we get to them in the method book.
I thought I’d share a couple of fun little activity songs I use with my students to help them learn the placement of white key notes, and explore the range and sounds of the keyboard while they’re at it.
The Dog Song asks students to find 2-black key groups (the doghouse), and then find the white key in between (the dog). This is a great activity for a first lesson, or even an interview or trial lesson.
Once students can find Ds easily, it’s time to add a sneaky cat next door… and now the fun can really start! For part 2 of this song, students find both the dog and cat, then can play with all kinds of sounds as the dog and cat chase each other (with a trill from C to D), and pounce all over the keyboard, jumping from yard to yard.
This F-G-A-B piece was inspired by one of my old students, who invented this silly sentence to remember the notes surrounding the 3-black key groups. It’s now a studio staple! Many of my new students enjoy making up sentences of their own to remember these notes.
Handout sheets for these songs are available for download on the theory sheets page, or by clicking on the links below. I’ve taught these songs for years by rote, without using the sheets – you’ll find that many students don’t need them. I made them this fall for a student who was a visual learner, and needed the diagram to help remember what to play. They also come in handy for parents who want to help their students practice at home.