My piano lessons seem to go by in the blink of an eye. I suppose time flies when you’re having fun. But, because “time flies”, some lesson activities get missed.
For a long time the one activity in my studio that always seemed to get cheated was score study. It’s not that I didn’t do score study… it’s just that I didn’t do score study in an engaging way.
But still, it really bothered me. I was desperate to find ways to both get my students pumped about a piece AND give them some tools to fast track their success.
In today’s post we’re sharing a simple, fast, fun, and effective score study tool that can be used to explore the primary chords, accidentals, expression and patterns and sequences of a new piece using our “Highlighter Helpers”… because as we all know… kids LOVE highlighters!
If you’re a regular reader of the TeachPianoToday blog you’ll definitely want to add this score study tool to the other strategies we’ve blogged about recently, including:
Score Study Fun With Highlighter Helpers
You’re probably wondering, “What are Highlighter Helpers?” Well, they are… highlighters. But not just any highlighters. They are four different colored highlighters assigned to a specific score study task (primary chords, accidentals, expression and patterns/sequences) and are decorated with fun and exciting labels to indicate their highlighting super power.
You can use my labels by downloading them here. I print them out on an Avery standard address (5160) label sheet and then stick the labels to the side of their respective highlighter and voila!… my Highlighter Helpers are ready to go! Check out the picture below.
How To Use Highlighter Helpers:
Highlighter Helpers work well when combined with other score study techniques, but they really shine when you’re pinched for time. Here’s how to use Highlighter Helpers in piano lessons:
- Your newly-assembled Highlighter Helpers should be labelled with 4 different Score Study goals: Primary Chords, Accidentals, Expression, and Patterns and Sequences.
- Hand your students the Primary Chords Highlighter. Have them seek out and highlight the I, IV and V chords (or chord tones) in the given key. Younger students can find the Tonic and Dominant notes instead.
- Hand your students the Accidentals Highlighter. Have them find any notes that are affected by a key signature and/or accidental.
- Hand your students the Expression Highlighter. Have them search for articulation markings and dynamics.
- Hand your students the Patterns and Sequences Highlighter. Have them search for measures that repeat or are sequenced. Use different circle patterns to indicate each “set” of patterns (ie circle, square, cloud etc.)
- Review the piece, looking at the color of each different highlighted section, and discuss what the different colored highlighted sections reinforce (primary chords, accidentals, expression, patterns).
Highlighter Helpers put score analysis tools in your students’ hands… literally. Rather than sitting and listening to a lengthly introduction to a new piece, your students are actively previewing their music and committing the important bits and pieces to memory.
When you are finished with this score study strategy, your students’ scores will be a color-coded piano theory dream! Not only have you assisted your students in learning to look for and understand key components of a score and the corresponding theory concepts, but you’ve also provided visual reminders for home practice.
Worried about writing on your students’ music?
Don’t be! “On the page learning” is it one of the most effective teaching strategies. Plus… if your a subscriber to PianoBookClub, all of your music comes with unlimited printing… forever… so you can simply print a clean score if needed. Check out how you can get a new book of music each month for just $8 USD.