Do you ever feel as though you pull out all the stops for your young piano students, but when your teenage kids hit the bench the magic disappears?
With your younger kids you’re using play dough, large foam dice, puppets, drums, floor pianos… you’re Super Teacher on Red Bull! But these things don’t usually fly with teenagers… and so you’re likely at a bit of a loss as to how to keep things fresh and fun.
Well we’re here today to help with our Top 3 Teen Tested Brain Breaks so that the next time you have a teen on your bench you can pump them up with some fun. Even the quietest of teens will crack a smile with these activities.
3 Teen-Friendly Brain Breaks
1. Trash Can Toss – Have your teens circle the 4 most difficult measures in their piece. Ball up 12 post-it-notes or small pieces of paper and place them beside you on the bench. Position a trash can (or basket) a distance away from the piano. Your teens now play the 4 measures at random. For every time they play one correctly, they pick up a paper ball and attempt to make a basket. For each missed throw, they play the measure again. If they make a basket, that measure is crossed off and considered to be complete (for now!).
This one sometimes takes up the entire lesson as they won’t. stop. thowing. Buuuut… their once-difficult measures are practiced within an inch of their life (especially if they’re a poor shot like I am!) and so I call that a good use of time.
2. Don’t Touch it – When practicing scales (oh… such fun) choose a key on the piano that is the “Don’t Touch It Key”. I suggest F#… that guy gets used a lot… 😉 As your student plays her scales she is NOT ALLOWED to play the Don’t Touch It Key. She must skip it and continue on during both the ascending scale and the descending scale. What happens if she does touch it? 10 “Finger Pushups” on the lid of the piano using your finger of choice.
If you take on a drill sergeant persona and bark “Drop and gimme 10!” teens love it. Okay… first they look at you like you’ve lost your mind, but then they love it. What are finger pushups? Use your imagination – usually teens just naturally figure it out. They’re also a great exercise for collapsing finger joints!
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3. High and Low – Are your teens getting bored with simple repetition of a needed passage, scale, skill etc. Encourage them to give this game a go and they’ll love playing the tricky bits. Here is how you play:
- Decide on a piano passage, scale etc. that is causing problems.
- Give your piano student a deck of cards and have her deal a card (face down) to you and to herself.
- Instruct your piano student to look at her card (secretly) and place it back down on the bench.
- Your piano student now has 2 choices; a) if she thinks her card is lower in value than your card she can simply play her piano passage according to the number of times indicated on the card. b) if she thinks her card is higher than your card she can call out “Higher!”… at which point you flip over your card. If her card is indeed higher, than the passage is played just twice. However, if she bet wrong and her card is lower, she must add the values of both cards together and play the passage that many times.
More Teen Awesomeness
Looking for more tips for teaching piano to teens? Check out the posts below: