If you’re like me, and your foot automatically hits the brakes when you see an office supply store, then you’ll appreciate the simple pleasure I get from wandering up and down aisles filled with pens, paper and dividers.
I don’t know what it is… perhaps it’s the sense of uber-organization, perhaps it’s the the way that binders and folders and envelopes all scream “Use me and make your life easier!”… or perhaps it’s the grand (and slightly embarrassing) welcome that I now get from the Staples employees at my local store.
In any case, I impulsively bought a pack of 1000 sheets of mailing labels the other day and then, feeling the need to immediately use them, challenged myself to see how I could turn them into useful piano teaching tools!
Piano Teaching Tools… That Stick!
With a little bit of consideration into what I need on a daily basis in my studio, I came up with 5 ways to use mailing labels in my piano studio. And… because we love to give things away on the Teach Piano Today blog, I’m sharing all of the templates I created in today’s post! These templates work with Avery 5160 labels or equivalent.
1. “What’s The Key?” Labels – I created these labels to stick to the top of my students’ pages before they begin new pieces. Each label quickly outlines the key, the key signature and the primary chords in a piece. These are all things I want my piano students to be aware of as they explore their new pieces. Having the information on labels at the top of their music makes for quick and easy reference.
Teaching Tip: Have your students be the ones to fill out the labels. This quick moment of “mini score study” increases their overall understanding of their music.
2. “Anytime, Anywhere” Labels – My students frequently add pieces to their “anytime, anywhere” repertoire. These completed pieces require continuous review so they can truly be played “anytime, anywhere”. But as the year goes on, it’s easy to forget exactly which pieces are supposed to be continually reviewed. So, I stick these labels to the top of their music book pages, allowing my students to quickly flip through their binders or books and find their “anytime, anywhere” pieces to review during their home practice time.
Teaching Tip: Take time each lesson to quickly review these “anytime, anywhere” pieces. Having an extensive list of music your students can play “at the drop of a hat” is a valuable tool and your check-ins will ensure that the review is happening frequently at home.
3. Piano Parent Practice Labels – We shared this idea in a blog post last year, resulting in many teachers writing to us to say how effective these labels have been in encouraging parental participation in home practice. Piano Parent Practice Labels are used to encourage piano parents to be involved in home practice routines by giving them an easy way to provide fun feedback. See more information and the printable here.
Teaching Tip: When your students return to lessons with Piano Parent Practice Labels attached to their pieces, make a big deal about it! Encourage your students to continue the routine until their parents’ involvement becomes second-nature.
4. “Where Do My Hands Go?” Labels – Do you frequently hear the “Where do my hands go?” question from your beginning piano students? This label template provides an easy visual solution. On the label, write the note names above the corresponding fingers, mark a dot over the “starting finger” on each hand, and then stick it to your students’ music to eliminate potential home practice roadblocks.
Teaching Tip: Have your students write the notes above each finger to practice independently using the cues in their music to decode the starting position.
5. Mini Keyboard Labels – We recently shared these labels in our “Eight Tiny Tools for Teaching Theory” post and teachers have been emailing “thank you!” ever since! Use these labels to easily provide a needed and lasting visual directly on your students’ pages to explain theory concepts such as chord inversions, intervals, fingering, note naming etc. as they naturally occur in their music.
Teaching Tip: When using these labels as an “on the page reminder”, give the pen to your students and ask, “What could you draw on this keyboard label to help you remember… ?” This gives you valuable insights into how your students think and learn.
Now It’s Your Turn!
And now we want to know… if you had to add a label to our list above, what would that label be and what would it be used for? What are you constantly writing on your students’ music that could be replaced with a handy label? We’ll create labels for the most popular ideas and share them in a future post!