Spending 30 minutes on one piano piece with your student probably sounds crazy… And it is! Even the most patient child would be bouncing off the walls if she attempted to focus on a single activity for that long.
While I would never recommend “playing” a piano piece for that long. I would however, whole-heartedly, recommend “playing with” a piano piece for that long!
Did you know that a single piece of music can actually turn into 30 minutes of (fun!) learning opportunities? In today’s post, I’m going to share 7 ideas that can be used to turn a single piece of music into an entire piano lesson.
1. Eye Spy A Clap Back
It’s common for piano teachers to incorporate “clap backs” in the ear training portion of a lesson. But why do the clap backs have to be random? Instead, clap the rhythm of a two-measure excerpt from your student’s piano piece. Instruct your student to clap the rhythm back and then have her search for and find the two-measure excerpt in her piano piece. Repeat with a newly-chosen rhythm from the piece.
2. Hunt For The Hidden Note
It’s important that your piano student learns to speak the language of music. She should regularly use words such as bass clef, measure, step, skip, 3rd, 4th, minor, major, flat, and sharp. To help her use the “language of music”, use her piano piece to play a game of 20 Questions. To begin, secretly select any note from your piano student’s piece. Have her try to guess the note by asking a series of Yes/No questions (i.e. “Is the note in the bass clef?” or “Is it a a line note?”) Record how many questions were asked by your student in order to uncover the hidden note, and then play again (choose a new hidden note) so that she can attempt to beat her score.
3. Let’s Roll Intervals
Every piano student should regularly hone their interval recognition skills. You can help your piano student to do this with the help of her piano piece and two dice. To begin, have your student roll a die. Next, roll your own die. The player with the lowest-rolled value must attempt to find a harmonic or melodic interval in the piece that matches that value (i.e. “3” equals third)
4. Searching For Royals
Tonic, dominant, and leading tone are pretty bland terms, but you can spice them up with a game of cards. To play, you will need all of the face cards from a deck of playing cards. Sit on the floor with your student, her piano piece, and the shuffled cards. Flip over the top card of the deck and then race your student to find the note in her piano piece that matches the revealed card (King = tonic, Queen = dominant, Jack = leading tone/scale degree of your choice). When the note has been found, lightly cross it out with a pencil, so that it can not be selected again in future rounds.
5. Die On The Keys (hmmm… might have to rename this one!)
Instruct your piano student to close her eyes. Next, place a die on any key that is used in her current piano piece. Instruct your student to open her eyes and examine the die on the keyboard as well as the value of the die. She then seeks out a number of notes that matches the value on the die and its key placement. For example, if the die is placed on Treble C and is showing a value of “4”, your student must find four Treble C’s in her piano piece.
6. Musical Measures Make Silly Sentences
If you can make note reading goofy, you can make note reading memorable. To play this game, you and your student will each need a slip of paper. Next, select any measure from your piano student’s piece that has between four and six notes of varying pitches. Instruct your student to write a silly sentence on her slip of paper, where each word begins with the letter name of the notes in the selected measure. The order of words must also follow the order of the notes. For example, if a measure has four quarter notes in the following order, CCED, you or your student might write, “Crazy Cockroaches Eat Doritos .”
7. Who Measures Up?
To play this game, remove all of the face cards from a deck of playing cards. Next, shuffle the remaining cards and deal half to your student and half to yourself. On the count of three, you and your student must flip over the top cards of your decks. The player whose card displays the highest value must play the measure in her piano piece that matches the number of that highest value.
If you and your students love to “play with” music, check out Teach Piano Today’s PianoBookClub. Our PianoBookClub subscribers receive a new digital piano book full of creative, educationally-enjoyable, and out-of-the-box music each and every month for just $8 US/month. Click here to learn more about PianoBookClub.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Do you enjoy “playing with” piano pieces? If so, share in the comments below by telling us what interesting, creative, or different strategies you use to explore a piano piece.