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 retails for $39.95. It’s a little on the pricey side for a teaching “toy”, but in my studio, it’s been worth every penny!! (Note: I happened to get mine on sale for 25% off right before Christmas… if you check this out on Amazon you can add it to a wish list and watch for future sales.)
I have a lot of wiggly little ones (and wiggly not-so-little ones!) in my studio this year, so we’ve found LOTS of ways to get off the bench use this fun teaching aid. Here are a few:
Spot Practice & Memory Work: Students who balk at repeating a tricky phrase over and over at the piano have had NO complaints when I ask them to repeat it over and over with their feet! The large scale of the keys also helps some students “map out” and remember pitch patterns better (they have to THINK before they move to a key, not just flop fingers down).
Rhythm Work: Playing bigger keys means using bigger muscles (legs or arms), which makes it easier for students to feel a steady pulse. After a handful of repetitions, students have the “steady” sound in their ears and can move back to play at the piano. Stepping rhythms is also an excellent way for students to experience durations and rhythm patterns.
Sightreading: I’ve been using the keyboard mat and Giant Sightreading Cards to kick off lessons this week. No surprise… my students think this is WAY more fun than sightreading at the piano!
Flashcards: Even drilling those pesky bass clef notes becomes fun with a toy like this! (Giant Flash Cards come in handy any time you’re adding movement to flash card drills.)
If any of the rest of you have similar keyboard mats, or activities you use them for I’d love to hear about them!