I’m sure, like me, you have stacks of old piano books “gifted” to you by friends and relatives cleaning out their attics. My own collection is filled with everything from Readers Digest “Treasury of Best Loved Songs” to Country and Western hits from the 40’s.
I know I likely will never use these music books, but I simply cannot bear to recycle or throw away sheet music!
Recently, I sat down to come up with some ways to repurpose these old tunes. And while Pinterest is full of crafty sorts of ideas that require vats of mod podge (and vats of patience) I decided to stay away from the crafty approach and instead attempt to figure out how I could use this retired music as a teaching tool.
After a little brainstorming, I came up with 7 ways to breathe new life into old sheet music… and turn our piano kids into sight-reading superstars at the same time!
7 Ways To Repurpose Old Sheet Music Into Sight- Reading Fun
- Colorful Note Reading: Cut out one line from any old music book and tape it to a blank sheet of paper. Draw a “legend” on the paper using a variety of marks. For example: red = G, green = D, yellow = B. Instruct your students to use the “key” to identify and color the corresponding notes in the line of music.
- Chord Progression Identification: Give your students a red pen and a page of music from an old book. Have them identify the primary chords of the key in which the music is written and then label the I, IV, and V chords in the piece, circling the chord tones found within each measure.
- Composition Starters: Cut out a few measures from the first line of music from an old book and paste it on the top of blank staff paper. Have your students sight-read the snippet. Next help them use the musical ideas from the measures (melodic choices, rhythm, motives etc) to create a “mini-composition” that acts as a short continuation from the measures they were given that is completely their own.
- Rock Around the Clock: Cut out 12 one-measure snippets from a piece of old music. Write the time signature and key signature at the top of the page (as some measures will be missing this information). Tape the measures in a circle on a blank piece of paper – labelling them 1 through 12 (like a clock face). Call out each number (working your way around the clock in order). As you call out each number, have your students sight-read the corresponding measure. Can your students “rock around the clock” without making a mistake?
- Create a Lead Sheet: Cut out a line of music from an old book and then cut it into two halves, keeping only the treble clef line. Paste the treble clef line to a piece of paper. Next, help your students turn it into a lead sheet; discovering the chords that “fit” with each measure and writing the corresponding chord symbol on top of the staff. Create various LH accompaniments for the new lead sheet allowing your students to experiment with various rhythmic patterns.
- Guess the Time Signature: Cut out three lines of music from different piano pieces. Cut off any measures that contain the time signature. Hand each line of music to your students one at a time. Have them attempt to guess the time signature of each piece.
- The Great Piano Piece Puzzle: Cut out four consecutive measures from a single piece so that you have four one-measure chunks. Place the chunks in the correct order on the music stand. Have your students sight-read the chunks in their correct order. Next, mix the measures up so that they are out of order and place them back in a row on the music stand. Can your students put the four measures back into the correct order?
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