Playdough Articulations

I had one of those “aha” moments in the middle of a lesson tonight.   One of my middle school students is working on a jazz piece for our upcoming studio recital. She’s got the notes and rhythms down, but her playing tonight lacked excitement.  She was playing it “safe” by keeping her hands close to the keys, which limited her range of articulation and … Continue reading

Pattern Recognition Activities

In my beginner groups this week, we did a quick activity focused on pattern recognition. I created large-type, one measure signs of the melody to “This Old Man” and scattered them throughout my studio.   To start the activity, I had each student run to stand by a sign and clap it’s rhythm to the group.  Next, we diagrammed the melodic shape of each pattern … Continue reading

Candy Listening B-I-N-G-O

In many of my group lessons this week, students are working on aural interval identification.   For a few lucky students, this skill comes naturally.  For most, it takes a LOT of (sometimes frustrating) practice.   Here’s one of the games we’re doing this month to make that practice a little less tedious: Candy makes everything better, right?!?  This is a “reverse” game of BINGO … Continue reading

Fun Rhythm Dictation

I’m planning to do some rhythm dictation with my elementary students in groups this week, and liked the sheets I made at Christmas so much that I decided to come up with something for spring.    I looked through a couple of my favorite silly song websites (if you don’t know about them, check out the Kididdles and Bus Songs sites), and this song caught … Continue reading

Elementary Evaluation Cards

As we prepare for adjudicated festivals through the year, I like to use group lessons as a chance for students to practice performing in front of peer “judges.”  It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about what criteria a judge uses to evaluate a performance, and really listen to a piece and dissect it’s elements. With my older students, I’ll often copy actual judge’s … Continue reading

Christmas Rhythm Dictation Sheets

As I was working on planning rhythm and movement activities for group lessons this month, I had the idea to tweak my usual (rather ho-hum) rhythmic dictation sheets and add a holiday theme:    Both of these songs use half, quarter and pairs of eighth notes.   In We Wish You a Merry Christmas, students only choose between quarter and eighth notes.  In Up on the … Continue reading

Find the Mistake: Christmas Carols

An “off” day in the studio a couple of weeks ago provided the inspiration for this activity.    I’d like to blame this on a change in the weather or perhaps a few brains that had checked out early for Thanksgiving break, but I spent a day listening to student after student play through familiar Christmas tunes, missing notes and seeming oblivious to the errors.  Call … Continue reading

Jingle Bell Pattern Signs

It’s group lesson week again in my studio, and since it’s our last group lesson week before Christmas break, I’ve been incorporating Christmas tunes and themes into many of our activities.   I used the following activity with groups of first-year students this week: In previous groups, we had been learning to recognize simple melodic patterns (up, down, repeat) both aurally and visually. For this activity, I made signs … Continue reading

Major & Minor Dash & B-I-N-G-O

Since many of my elementary students are working on Halloween sheet music for a recital this weekend, we’ve been talking quite a bit about the difference betwen major and minor this month. For this week’s group lessons, I printed 2 signs with a picture of a house on each.  One was a haunted house (I simply printed a copy of this coloring page on orange paper), … Continue reading