If you have ever had young children, then chances are you’ve spent some time on Sesame Street. And if you’ve spent some time on Sesame Street, then you know that often an episode will pay homage to one single letter.
So we wondered… if Sesame Street can do it, why can’t we?… But with a twist. That is, why can’t we base an entire piano lesson, or even a week of piano lessons, around a single note.
Something like… “This week’s piano lesson is brought to you by… Treble C.”
I’ve been testing this idea with the little ones in my studio and have found it to solidify desperately-needed note reading skills and prevent any lingering confusion.
Plus… it’s so much fun! Keep reading to see what a “Note of the Week” lesson looks like…
This Week’s Piano Lesson Is Brought To You By… Treble C
The idea behind the “Note of the Week” approach is to laser focus lesson activities on a single note. Picking just one note at a time enables you to isolate guide notes, choose notes that are frequently confused and/or not yet memorized, and eliminate any potential gaps in understanding.
This fun approach to note reading does not mean your students must only play tunes, perform technical exercises, and play games that have just one note; it simply means that special attention is given to a “special note”. It’s a simple and effective way to boost note-reading confidence and skills in young piano students.
9 Ways To Celebrate The “Note Of The Week”
Want to give the “Note of the Week” a try? It’s simple… each week, choose a note to “celebrate” and then pick 3 different activities from the list below. As the weeks go by and new notes are introduced be sure to select different activities; allowing for an activity rotation ensures you touch on all learning styles… you never know what might “click”!
- Pin it! – Draw a staff on a piece of poster paper. Draw the “Note of the Week” on the staff. Cut out several “whole note” circles. Blindfold your students and ask them to pin a “whole note” circle to its correct location on the staff. Once your students place a whole note on the staff, discuss how far (or how close) their pinned note was to the correct place using steps, skips and intervals (Look… your pinned note is on G… which is a 3rd away from our note of the week, B).
- Highlight it! – Give your students a “special pen” (highlighter, gel pen etc.) and ask them to seek out the “Note of the Week” in their current and past pieces. When they find ithe “Note of the Week” they can highlight it, circle it, or draw a star above it… anything to identify it within the context of their music. Next, have your students write the number of times the note was found on a small card and pin it somewhere in your studio. By the end of the week you’ll have a tally of the number of times it was found by all of your little students in your entire studio (a “fun fact” to share on your Facebook page etc.)
- Float it! Inflate eight to ten balloons and have a party for your “Note of the Week”. On each balloon, draw a staff with a sharpie and then add a note. Make sure at least two balloons contain the “Note of the Week”. Then, as your students arrive for their lessons have them locate a balloon with the “Note of the Week”.
- Hide it! Print out several flash cards showing the “Note of the Week” plus a variety of others. Hide the flashcards around the studio and ask your students to hunt for the cards and bring back only the ones that show the “Note of the Week”. Get your students to re-hide the cards for the students that come to lessons next.
- Eat it! Print out a blank staff and, before your students leave their lessons, ask them to place a gummy bear (or a healthy treat option) on the staff where the “Note of the Week” belongs. If they are correct, let them eat the gummy bear. If they are not correct, let them eat it anyway!
- Aim at it! Using painter’s tape, create a staff on your piano studio floor. Give your students three attempts to toss a crumpled ball of tape at the staff in an attempt to land it as close as possible to the location of “Note of the Week”.
- Riddle it! Let your piano students discover the “Note of the Week” by decoding clues. Saying things such as “Clue #1: I have a line through my middle… Clue #2 – I’m a fourth higher than C… Clue #3 – I’m found in the bass clef and my neighbour is G”.
- Snap it! Have your piano students draw the “Note of the Week” on a large staff and then snap a picture of your students with their new best friend. A sea of “Note of the Week” pictures will look fantastic as a collage on your Facebook page, is a cool addition to your Instagram account, and can be emailed home to parents. These pictures will also make a great keepsake to for piano binders or scrapbooks for your waiting area.
- Show and Tell it! Email the “Note of the Week” to your piano students in advance of their lessons and have them bring in an item from home that begins with the same letter (for example, if the “Note of the Week” is G a student could bring in a grapefruit). Have students place their item on the large staff where the “Note of the Week” is found and snap a photo. As is the case with the previous activity, these pics can be used for student binders and scrapbooks. Bringing items from home also gets Mom and Dad involved in the piano lesson process… and that’s always a good thing!
How Would You Celebrate the “Note of the Week”?
We want your ideas! How would YOU celebrate the “Note of the Week” in your studio? Get creative and comment below. We’ll randomly select two people who leave a comment before 4 PM PST on March 16, 2016 to win a set of 4 note-reading focused PianoGameClub games to add to your “Note of the Week fun!