Teaching piano students to play with expression can sometimes feel like teaching a cat to fetch. When it comes to playing expressively, dynamics are an important part. However, those glorious little p’s and f’s usually seem to go unnoticed on the page (unless, of course, your student happens to come across a ff…they never forget those!)
Today’s Piano Teaching Game… Maybe it was Mezzo
Today’s piano teaching game is designed to help piano students learn to add noticeable dynamic contrasts to their playing and is played in a group setting (think piano party, master class, group make-up class etc.)
– a group of 4 or more students who each have a piece they can play through comfortably. These students can be from a variety of levels, but the piece should contain at least 3 different dynamic markings (if it doesn’t…add them to the page yourself!)
– paper and pens for each student.
– a buzzer or bell – really anything that makes a noticeable and fun noise. I use the noise maker from the board game “Taboo”…if you’ve ever played the game you know it’s a noise that’s impossible to ignore!
-a motivating prize 🙂
Playing Maybe it was Mezzo
1. Review dynamic markings with the group. Have them locate and identify the dynamic markings on their piece of music they will be performing for the group.
2. Each student takes a turn on the piano and begins to play their piece.
3. At frequent intervals, use your noise-maker to signal the student playing to stop playing immediately.
4. Those who are listening secretly write down what dynamic marking they think was being played at the exact moment the student was stopped. Those who are correct get a point. The student playing receives as many points as there were correct answers from the group. The student returns to playing from the exact point they left off (hmmm….another learning opportunity!) until “buzzed” again. Repeat until the piece is finished.
5. After everyone has had a turn performing (and being interrupted regularly by the buzzer) add up the points. Whoever has the most wins the prize!
If you have anything to add, or have another game for teaching dynamics to your piano students, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Looking to Grow Your Piano Studio?…
In addition to our daily piano teaching tips, Andrea and I have written a fantastic piano teaching guide that has helped teachers all over the globe build successful piano teaching studios. If you want to learn more about our guide, Piano Hands Shouldn’t Flip Burgers, click the link below.