A 30-minute piano lesson can feel as though someone pressed fast-foward on your clock. Exam prep, recital prep, method book work, technical work, composing, piano games…
… and often it’s piano games that get left behind.
But wait! What if we told you that using piano games in your lessons will actually *save* you time?! How?
When children learn new concepts or review past concepts within the context of a game, they are fully engaged in the process. No time is spent re-directing, re-motivating or re-focusing… you have an eager learner beside you ready to soak it all in! Plus… your piano student will retain information more easily when it is presented in a game-based context because he is completely engaged in the process: he wants to win the game!
Keep reading to find out how you can easily incorporate piano games into your lessons… even when time is tight.
Make Time For Games With These 5 Strategies
So… there it is… the one hurdle to including game-based learning regularly is TIME. Fortunately, you can use a couple of simple strategies to crush that hurdle, and pave the way to studio success…
1. Easy Peasy Method Book Notes
I believe so strongly in using game-based learning, that before I send a student home with a new method book, I first add some of my own notes to the header of each piano piece in the book.
In the header (in a discrete area and in a tidy way) I write down the names of one or two piano games that reinforce the concepts being learned in the piano piece. Along with the title of the game, I also note the bin number where it is stored for quick reference (more on that later).
By doing this in advance, I eliminate any time spent deciding which is the correct game to use and then searching through my storage bins to find it. And because the information is directly written on the piano piece that is already open on the piano, it also eliminates the time I might spend opening my teaching binder and referencing a spreadsheet… every second counts!
This strategy requires a bit of prep work, but if you only use two or three method books, you quickly remember which piano games go with which pieces and making the notes before sending the method book home is easy-peasy.
2. Piano Game Days
The first time you play a piano game, you are bound to spend more than 5 minutes learning how the game is played. But once your kids know the rules, playing that game in future lessons takes a fraction of the time.
Because of this, you might want to consider hosting a Piano Game Day one weekend every month or two. During this day, you can teach your piano students how to play all of the fun new games you have.
Then, when your students come for their regular individual lessons, they are ready to roll and no time is wasted learning the games.
Piano Game Days are also a brilliant way to add to your teaching income and to help your piano students meet other music-minded friends, hereby building a sense of community.
3. Game Storage
You’re probably also wondering how to store your piano games so that you can easily grab exactly what you need… and spare yourself from a chaotic studio where spare dice cause tripping hazards and game boards and cards spill from every shelf.
So, I’m going to let you in on my game-storage secret!
As you see in the photo – each of my games has its own folder. Here’s how I set up all of my game folders:
1) Purchase “2 pocket” folders (at the Dollar Tree – 2 for $1.25)
2) Tape the (included) game cover page to the front of the folder.
3) Place the game board in the right-hand side pocket
4) Place the game play instructions in the left-hand side pocket
5) Contain all playing cards, die and game markers that are needed for that specific game in a ziploc bag that is then tucked into the left-hand side pocket.
Store your games in an open basket or bin so you can see the title labels easily, and separate your bins according to learning outcome. I have bins labelled as “1: Rhythm”, “2: Note Reading”, and “3: Ear Training” to name a few. Larger game items (chalk, balls, percussion instruments etc.) go in a bin with a lid… learned that lesson the hard way 😉
With this system you can find the exact game that works to reinforce your lesson focus, have everything you need to play immediately at your fingertips (including instructions if needed), and know exactly where to find each game folder.
4. Take-Home Piano Games
Reaping the many necessary benefits of game-based learning does not only need to happen during a piano lesson!
Consider creating Take-Home Game Bags that your students can check out and take home every week. This is a great strategy for reinforcing lesson concepts AND, what I consider to be even more important… getting parents involved in home practice!
If you choose to become a PianoGameClub member you’ll have new games every month to make a program like this a smashing success!
My Final (And Most Important) Strategy… errrr Philosophy
Truth be told I believe there is ALWAYS time for piano games.
I came to realize this when I started to think of them not as games, but as teaching tools. Then, suddenly, game-based learning became much more than a brain-break… it became a philosophy.
And this philosophy is guided by one very simple question:
“Can what I am about to explain be better off learned with a piano game?”
By adopting this philosophy, you’ll discover, as I did, that there is no need to “make time” for piano games. Piano games become a necessary component of any lesson, and a necessary tool that results in better understanding and increased motivation.
Get A FREE Piano Game!
Now for the best part… we have a great soccer-themed piano game to send your way that will improve bass clef note reading! All you have to do is share with us in the comments below one little time-saving tip that you use to help make the most of your precious piano lesson minutes.
And remember… everyone who leaves a comment will receive the game (Kick Flick) by email 🙂