Halloween Rhythm Dictation

I really like to use the words of familiar songs or catchy phrases to reinforce rhythm concepts.  Students naturally speak in rhythm, whether they’re aware of it or not, so it’s a great way to relate a “new” rhythm concept to something they already know.  Interestingly, I also find that choosing the right rhythm to go with lyrics is one of the hardest challenges for … Continue reading

New Resource Sites

In doing some web surfing over the weekend, I ran across a couple of fantastic new (or more accurately “new-to-me”) music resource websites: DenleyMusic.com has a number of fun games and theory resources for beginning piano and string students.  I especially like Dianna’s Treble Clef Lines and Spaces poster, and the “Don’t Clap this One Back Game”  (it’s now on my list of things to … Continue reading

Student Activity Binders

Every good pedagogy student and music teacher knows that it’s important to teach more than repertoire.   There’s lots of extra “stuff” that goes into a well-balanced piano curriculum.   Stuff like theory… and sightreading… and rhythm, technique, ear training, music history, improv, composing… and the list goes on!  During the month of July, I often find that my desk is buried under piles of … Continue reading

Ice Breaker Games

Since a number of teachers have posted about summer camp ideas over the last few weeks, I thought I’d share a couple of activities that I like to use with new groups of students.  I typically use these at our first group lesson in the fall, but they’d be great ice-breakers for camps!   (Note: Both of these activities are based on Dalcroze Eurhythmics.  The basic … Continue reading

Composing Sheets

One of my goals for this summer’s lessons is to have my students do more composing.     There was a really interesting article on the ComposeCreate blog last month that inspired me to incorporate more writing into my lessons.   In a nutshell, the author suggested that writing music is great training for reading music – especially for students who struggle with notereading.   … Continue reading

LEGO Rhythms

I recently ran across a fantastic idea for a new “prop” to use in teaching over on Rebecca’s blog: LEGOS!   She shared information on a LEGO Smart contest for educators (that includes a free Lego kit!).   The contest doesn’t officially start until September, but I was anxious to try these out with students, so I picked up a set of basic blocks. The … 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

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

Clothesline Rhythms – New Counting Cards

My elementary students have been enjoying the “rhythm of the week” challenge we started this semester.  I’ve been hanging a 4-measure pattern using my Clothesline Rhythm cards before students arrive each day.   At some point during their lessons, we take a break from the piano and work on counting and performing the rhythm (by clapping, jumping, stomping, etc.). This week, I decided to create … Continue reading

Silly Putty Rhythms

Silly Putty rhythms are one of the all-time student favorite activties in my studio.  After all, who doesn’t love Silly Putty???  To teach beginning note durations, I have several “Beat Boards” – boards with several hearts painted, each representing one beat (or “musical heartbeat”).   We stick blobs of Silly Putty to the boards to represent notes: Students learn that one “note” to each heartbeat is a … Continue reading