When was the last time you had a wiggly piano student on your bench? I’m guessing it was… yesterday afternoon! Kids are born to move and, in fact, moving actually helps them to process information more efficiently.
Working with a young student’s need to move (rather than against it) is a teaching strategy that I employ frequently with my piano students. In fact, we’re constantly “hopping” away from the bench to use manipulatives, games, and movement to reinforce important concepts at every lesson.
The other day all of this “hopping” back and forth (coupled with the never-ending parade of gum boots into my studio… it’s spring in Canada after all…) got me thinking about frogs and puddles and… well… piano teaching fun!
So today we’re sharing 4 “pond-hopping” activities you can use in your piano lessons to get your littles up and moving, and improving their ear training and theory skills to boot!
4 Pond-Hopping Piano Exercises To Get Littles Off The Bench
I love watching my students play each of the four games below. Their imaginations amaze me as they get lost in a world where friendly little frogs need helping getting back to their ponds. The setup for the games is simple. All you need is some blue construction paper, a few green pom-poms and a wiggly child.
Game #1 – Stepping, Skipping and Swimming
In this game the student should be seated on the floor beside three ponds arranged in a line. Six frogs (pom-poms) should be placed in the first pond. When the student is ready, the teacher plays two notes that represent a step or a skip. The student listens to the sounds played by the teacher and moves a frog from the first pond according to the sounds played by the teacher. If the student heard the teacher play a step, he moves any frog from the first pond next door to the second pond. If the student heard the teacher play a skip, he moves any frog from the first pond to the third pond, skipping over the second pond. The teacher continues to play steps or skips until all frogs have been removed from the first pond.
Game #2 – Hop To The Rhythm
In this game, four ponds should be arranged in a line with the student sitting close by on the floor. A bunch of frogs (pom-poms) should be placed in front of the student. When the student is ready, the teacher starts the metronome and plays four measures of whole notes, half notes, or quarter notes. The student listens to the sounds played by the teacher and places a number of frogs in the first pond according to the note values played by the teacher. For example, If the student heard the teacher play whole notes, he moves four frogs into the first pond, or if the student heard the teacher play quarter notes, he moves one frog into the pond. The student and teacher repeat the process above three more times so that frogs are placed in the final three ponds.
Game #3 – The Sorting Swamp
In this game the student should be seated on the floor beside two ponds. One pond should be labeled “Major” and one pond should be labeled “Minor”. A bunch of frogs (pom-poms) should be placed in front of the student. When the student is ready, the teacher plays a minor chord or a major chord. The student listens to the sounds played by the teacher and places a frog in the pond labeled with the word that corresponds with the sound played by the teacher. For example, If the student heard the teacher play a minor chord, the student places a frog in the pond labeled “Minor”. The student and teacher repeat the process until 10 frogs have been placed in the ponds.
Game #4 – High Dive Hoppers
In this game five ponds labelled C, D, E, F, and G should be placed on the floor. To begin the game, the student closes his eyes while the teacher places one frog on any C on the piano, one frog on any D on the piano, one frog on any E on the piano, one frog on any F on the piano, and one frog on any G on the piano. When the frogs are all resting on their keys, the student opens his eyes and the moves each frog, one at a time, from its key on the piano to its corresponding pond.
More Fun For Wiggly Little Ones!
If you’re looking for more great ways to get wiggly piano students off the bench, be sure to check out TeachPianoToday’s PianoGameClub. Now that it’s May, our subscribers are receiving four new games to pump up the fun in their studios. If you are looking rock game-based learning in your studio, check out PianoGameClub where our members get four new piano games each and every month for just $8!