During the school year your piano students work hard to get through their method book music. it’s likely that they have completed 20, 30, or 40 pieces in the past year. Maybe they have even participated in a studio-wide 100 Piece Piano Challenge. These kinds of goals motivate your students to play a wide variety of repertoire and create well-rounded musicians.
But there is something to be said for “slowing” things down a bit too. Doing a deep dive into a single piece is the perfect complimentary teaching tool to completing as many pieces as possible. So, in today’s post we’re introducing the “One Piece Challenge”.
The “One Piece Challenge” is a terrific tool any time of the year, but it is tailor made for the summer months. Read on to learn how to implement this challenge in your studio (even if you take a break during the summer).
What Is The Summer “One Piece Challenge”?
The Summer One Piece Challenge provides a change in pace during a time of year when distractions are at a maximum. Rather than aiming to complete as many pieces as possible, your piano students will instead work on completing just one piece per week.
But wait! Before you begin worrying about how you will fill the lesson time or how a lack of repertoire will affect your students’ progress, consider the following…
Committing to the Summer One Piece Challenge allows you to:
- Focus in on vital score study that will make your students more successful and prolific learners when lessons return to full swing in the fall.
- Ensure that your students’ pieces are actually learned and fully completed during the summer months (instead of dragging on through the fall term half-finished and not-quite-polished.)
- Provide a change in routine for your summer lessons that doesn’t require vast amounts of planning and time.
- Cater to this busy, distracting time of year for families by giving students a practice goal that is achievable and enjoyable, therefore growing feelings of success rather than contributing to feelings of frustration.
- Exercise your teaching muscles as you discover new ways of meeting your students’ learning needs.
*Note: While your students will be working on just one piece per lesson, they should be encouraged to continue to review their previously-completed repertoire at home during the week.
10 Tips For “One Piece” Lesson Planning
Wondering how you can fill an entire lesson with just one piece? Follow along with the steps below to discover how easy (and fun!) it can be to explore just one tune.
1. Teach Score Study Techniques
Before your students’ fingers touch the keys, spend some time helping them learn how to fully understand all of the parts that make up their piece. Use our Score Study Folder printable to give your students a tangible understanding of their music. Once complete, use our Score Study Stickies game to add some fun to the process while reviewing everything your students have just discovered about their piece.
2. Mark Up The Score
Showing your piano students how to use their music as a “home practice assistant” is key to learning how to effectively make progress at home. With a pack of highlighters, our Highlighter Helpers printable, and a score that can be marked up, your students will have a blast creating a teaching tool that will get a real workout when it’s time to hit the keys at home.
3. Focus On Rhythm
After your piano students have used our score study techniques to gain a global understanding of their music, it is time to teach them how to break it into bits and pieces. To begin, use Track Tapping to help your students explore the rhythm of their music. Pair this technique with full-body rhythm exploration and rhythm instruments to give your students a solid understanding of their pieces.
4. Focus On Note Reading
Following rhythm work, it’s time to address any note reading issues that your students experience. Using these 8 ideas, you can effectively explore note reading without laying your hands on a single flashcard.
5. Build Coordination
When it’s time to play pieces hands together, your students may need a little coordination reinforcement. Using these 7 ideas, you can help your piano students strengthen their bilateral abilities.
6. Improve Fluency
Once your students’ are able to comfortably play their pieces hands together, it’s time to improve their fluency. And while fluency often comes naturally with practice and repetition, there are strategies you can use to effectively develop your students’ accuracy and expression. Try these 5 strategies to improve fluency… even among your youngest students.
7. Add Expression
Expressive playing comes naturally to some piano students while others needs explicit expression instruction. These 5 strategies for teaching expressive playing can help students who need extra assistance in this area. Sending your students home with pieces that are aurally satisfying sets them up for a successful week of enjoyable practice.
8. Review It All.. But Make It Fun
If you’ve followed Steps 1 to 7, you’ve now covered a lot of different strategies in your pursuit of the One Piece Challenge… so now’s the time for some FUN review. Check out our ideas for using Emojis as piano teaching tools and our Top 4 Tips for using stickers as effective learning assistants.
9. Use Game-Based Learning
Every piano piece has certain key concepts that, when mastered, will ease the learning process. Identify one of these concepts in each of your students’ pieces and pull out a piano game for some fun reinforcement. PianoGameClub members will have a treasure trove of piano games suited to a vast array of concepts, but if you need a few quick game ideas you can try these “white board theory games”.
10. Finish Up With Suggestions For Practice
The last step might be the most important! Arm your students with some suggestions for effective practice and set them up for success by sending them home with practice tools like our Post-It-Note Practice or Popsicle Practice Sticks. Then, provide some suggestions for how they can practice their piece even when they are NOT at the piano (important for those summer road-trips and weekends at the lake).
When The Summer One Piece Challenge Backfires…
The interesting thing about focusing on just one piece per lesson is that the skills you are giving your piano students rapidly turn them into confident, independent learners. You’ll likely find your piano kids working ahead, teaching themselves at home and adding extra pieces to their practice routines with their newly-honed skills!
…And all of a sudden, your One Piece Challenge will have inspired your students to learn more each week than just one piece 😉 #MethodToOurMadness