Sensory Spotlight: Resistance Band Rhythms

I’m really excited to get to share a new series of posts with all of you this spring!  Sensory Spotlight posts will give you all a little glimpse into some of the fun, hands-on toys and activities we use in my studio when we’re learning new pieces (or perhaps working on some trouble spots in not-so-new pieces!).  I hope you enjoy!!

 Resistance Band Rhythms

Does anyone recognize this bright-colored piece of exercise paraphernalia?   Resistance bands, designed for strength training and physical therapy, can be re-purposed into a great rhythm helper!  (And now is the perfect time to go snag one from one of those store-front post-New-Year’s exercise equipment displays!!).  

These bands are one of my go-to tools when students are struggling to hold long notes for their full durations.   With a band in their hands, the long notes suddenly become fun notes!

In this video clip, Sonia demonstrates how we use the band to show duration.  In the first part of the clip, we practice the motions she’ll use with different notes.  Once she’s comfortable with the band, I ask her to stretch as I play a passage:

After we’ve worked, and she can successfully match her motions to my sound, I ask her to look at the printed music as she stretches.  Ideally, she’ll make a connection between what she feels, hears and finally sees:

 Now we’re ready to head back to the piano to see if her long notes have improved!  

You can find resistance bands at most stores that carry sporting or exercise equipment. The bands come in a variety of strengths; you’ll want one with a light resistance level so young arms can handle it!  

P.S. Sorry about the fact that the videos are showing in a funky vertical orientation.  I didn’t discover until I had shot several clips on my new iPad that I need to record with it sitting in horizontal orientation, NOT vertical!!  Please excuse my learning curve!!  


Sensory Spotlight: Resistance Band Rhythms — 11 Comments

  1. What a wonderful idea!!! I love it! And, with the staccato at the end of the long held note – what a great way to teach that, too! I’m going to look for my stretch band! I’ve got just the student in mind who needs to work on this! I can hardly wait for Thursday now!

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    My name is Monique, I am a private piano teacher in Arizona. I’ve been scrolling through several of your posts on your blog–what great resources and information you offer! I particularly enjoyed this post about the resistance bands. Who would have thought that they could be used to teach how to hold out long notes? What a great idea! I will definitely have to try that out with my students. Right now, I often just count out loud with them until they hold it for the correct amount of time but adding a resistance band could be lots of fun!

    Did you learn this technique from another teacher or did you think of it on your own? I’m always curious as to how other teachers learn their ways of teaching.

    I am in the process of creating my own blog on piano teaching. Feel free to subscribe to it and comment whenever.


  3. Hi Monique,

    I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed some ideas from the blog! I started using the resistance band several years ago with a couple of really high-energy students who needed lots of hands-on experience to help them “get” concepts. I just happened to see mine one day as I was brainstorming ideas for lesson plans… and as luck would have it, it worked like a charm!

    I’m on my way over to check out your blog – thanks for sharing!!!

    Jen Fink

  4. Thanks for the great idea! I have one student in particular who I need to get up and moving more–he just can’t FEEL the pulses of the music.

  5. I’ve just discovered your site and I LOVE it!! What a creative idea to use the resistance bands! Thank you for the treasure trove of ideas! I plan on putting the Mystery Bag Improv activity to good use immediately 🙂

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