Hands On Teaching, Part 2 – Fitting it All In

Last week, I shared some thoughts on why I believed that games and structured play are so important in private music lessons.  This week, let’s take a look at how we can incorporate them into lessons on a regular basis. If there’s one downside to using games, it’s that they’re time consuming.    Some weeks we’re hard pressed just to hear the pieces our students have practiced, … Continue reading

Hands-On Teaching… Part 1

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I use a LOT of games and teaching props with my students.   Thanks to a few wonderfully active students who came through my door a handful of years ago (and drove me nearly to the point of exasperation), I’ve come to embrace a very multi-sensory, “hands-on” approach to elementary piano lessons.  We … Continue reading

New Practice Helper

Meet the newest member of my studio! At our state conference a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful workshop by Betty Todd Smith titled “You Like to Practice?  Why???” As a part of the presentation, she discussed fun and creative ideas to help students learn to repeat tricky passages.  The one that grabbed me?  Mr. Potato Head!  Students start with … Continue reading

Floor Staff Carpet

It’s finally summer in my studio.  Not that you could tell by looking at a calendar – the “official” June 21st start to the season is still a week away, and I’ve already been on summer teaching schedule for 2 weeks.  Nope… It’s finally summer because my to-do list has been cleared to the point I can work on some creative projects I’ve been putting off … Continue reading

DIY Sheet Music

Has anyone met a piano student who doesn’t LOVE sheet music?   There’s something especially exciting and motivating about the stuff.  My students love to play it… and some of them also love to MAKE it. During summer lessons, I make an extra effort to encourage creative projects in my studio.  Many students opt to compose a piece or two (or three…).  Once they’re satisfied … Continue reading

Giant Playable Floor Keyboard

Does anyone else remember watching this scene from the movie “Big” and wishing for a piano like this??? I’ve always thought that it would be REALLY fun to have something like that in my studio, so was very excited to run across this smaller 6′ version in a catalog earlier this year: I ordered one immediately!  This is called a “Big Keyboard Fun” mat, and … Continue reading

The Really, Really Long Music Game

Already a little scared by the title of this post?   I’ve used this new game at group lessons for the last 2 months, and hadn’t really settled on a name for it until a student pointed out this month that the gameboard was “really, really, really long!”  Don’t let the title intimidate you – this is a super-versatile game that can pack a LOT … Continue reading

Flower Pot Note Toss

Get out your scissors…. This new game definitely falls into the “some-assembly-required (but your students will love you for it)” category. It’s almost springtime here in Kansas, and I’ve been in the mood for some new, fun spring-themed activities for the studio.   One of my students’ favorite ways to drill note-reading is a game I picked up from a workshop a couple of years … Continue reading

Trim the Tree Game

It’s time for Christmas games!  This week is the last group week of the semester in my studio, and we’ve been doing all of our theory with a holiday twist.  Here’s the first of several games and activities I created for this month’s group. Trim the Tree is a simple game to drill note identification.  Students get a stack of ornaments with pictured notes, then … Continue reading

Pumpkin Patch Steps & Skips

Here’s another simple elementary theory game for Halloween week.   My elementary groups are reviewing steps and skips this month, and I came up with the idea to turn my entire studio floor into a gameboard… with a holiday twist. I picked up a package of black paper plates from the party aisle at my local store, and taped a pumpkin graphic on each one … Continue reading