The introduction to sharps and flats can be frustrating for some piano students. Just when they think they are finally getting a grip on note reading… accidentals enter the picture.
Of course, the introduction to sharps and flats doesn’t have to be frustrating. In fact, it shouldn’t be frustrating… it should be fun! If your students’ first experiences with sharps and flats (or any other concepts for that matter!) are positive, they will be much less likely to fear them moving forward.
So in today’s post we’re sharing a cool pirate-themed printable that you can use to help your piano students learn (or review) the concept of sharps and flats in a hands-on way.
Help Captain Sharpbeard Find His Treasure…
Get ready to pump up the enjoyment in your studio with Captain Sharpbeard! In this fun activity you’ll use a “fortune teller” manipulative to bring learning to life. You can download the Pirate Fortune Teller Printable here. If you remember using “Fortune Tellers” as a child, then you’ll know exactly what to do. If not, we’ve included folding instructions on the printable.
How To Play:
Before the game begins, construct your Fortune Teller Printable. Next, have your piano student place a game marker on any black key on the piano that falls between Middle C and Treble C. While he is doing this, decide where “Captain Sharpbeard” has “buried his treasure” by secretly choosing any sharp or flat and writing its name on a slip of paper. Set the slip of paper aside. Note: Your student wins the game if the game marker moves within one black key of your secret “buried treasure”.
Visual learners can check out the video below.
- The top of the Fortune Teller contains 4 pictures of Captain Sharpbeard, “pointing” at a rhythmic value.
- Have your student choose a note value and name the beats that the note value receives in 4/4 time.
- Manipulate your Fortune Teller according to the number of beats selected by your student.
- The Fortune Teller will now be “open” and groups of black keys will be visible.
- Have your student point to and name one of the “marked” black keys.
- If the named key in Step 5 is part of a group of 2 black keys, manipulate the Fortune Teller two times. If the named key in Step 4 is part of a group of 3 black keys, manipulate the Fortune Teller three times.
- Repeat Steps 4 – 6 again.
- The Fortune Teller will now be “open” and groups of black keys will be visible. Have your student select a flap by naming one of the four black keys marked with a circle.
- Open the flap associated with your student’s selection in Step 8.
- According to the directions on the inside of the flap, have your student move his game marker from its original resting place on the piano to a new black key.
- Repeat Steps 2 to 10 three more times so that your student’s game marker moves to three different locations. After the third time, leave the game marker in its final position on the piano.
- Finally, open the secret slip of paper that indicates where Captain Sharpbeard’s accidental treasure was buried. Is your student’s game marker within one black key of the accidental you wrote down? If yes… he wins!
Reinforcing Accidentals With Pirates And… Robots
Looking for another out-of-the-box accidental adventure? November’s book of the month from Teach Piano Today’s PianoBookClub, Robots Can’t Rhumba, is an interactive, story-based resource that offers an entertaining introduction to accidentals.
Elementary-level piano students will bust a gut as they explore the concept-focused repertoire needed to bolster their comfort levels with sharps and flats. Robots Can’t Rhumba is available here.