I don’t mean to sound like a Valentine Scrooge, but I am just not a huge fan of February 14th. Trevor and I like each other quite a bit on February 13th and February 15th so, for us, Valentine’s Day becomes an obligatory waste of money on flowers and chocolates.
Ironically though, I think that Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day for teaching piano.
Valentine’s Day in a piano studio is an opportunity to have a special day for your students that breaks up the monotony of winter. However, unlike other holidays (I know, it’s not technically a holiday) your kids aren’t wired and their expectations are minimal.
The result is a special, yet relaxing, day of piano lessons.
So, while Trevor and I won’t be planning anything spectacular for each other this Valentine’s Day, we do want to help you plan a wonderful day for your students by sharing a DIY Valentine Rhythm Shaker project and activity collection!
Piano Lesson Fun With DIY Valentine Rhythm Shakers
If you want to have some rhythm training fun with your students this Valentine’s Day, you are going to need clear plastic cups, some tape, a few Valentine’s Day stickers, some ribbon, and a bunch of cinnamon hearts.
With your materials gathered, place some cinnamon hearts in one cup, place the mouth of the other cup against the mouth of the cup containing the cinnamon hearts and then tape them together… very well. Finally, decorate the cups with ribbons and stickers.
And that’s it; you have built your Valentine Rhythm Shaker!
Note: To avoid wasting lesson time, build your shaker in advance and, if you want to give your kids cinnamon hearts as a treat, just pull some from a bag; otherwise, you’ll end up wasting a bunch of plastic cups as you tear them apart for each student.
Once you have your Valentine Rhythm Shaker try out the rhythm activities below:
1. Rhythm Shaker Sight Reading: Write four measures of rhythm on four separate slips of paper. Arrange the four slips of paper in a line on the piano. Using the Rhythm Shaker, have your student shake the rhythm of the line of music. Next, rearrange the slips of paper and have your student repeat the activity.
2. Rhythm Shaker Ear Training: This activity uses the four slips of paper from the previous activity. To begin, take the Rhythm Shaker from your student and place the four slips of paper on the piano. Next, instruct your student to listen as you shake a line of rhythm using the measures from the four slips of paper. Instruct your student to arrange the measures of rhythm in the order in which they were played.
3. Rhythm Only Piano Piece: Open your student’s piano book to her current piece. Have her use the Rhythm Shaker to replicate the treble or bass clef rhythm of her piano piece. For older students who are up for a challenge, build a second shaker and have them shake the rhythm of their piano pieces, hands together.
4. Feel The Beat: Play simple, familiar children’s songs from Youtube or your own computer’s playlist. Instruct your student to find the underlying beat of the song and then shake along.
5. Rhythm Accompaniment: With your student create a “shaker accompaniment” for a piano piece in his book. Keep the accompaniment simple by creating a two measure pattern that gets repeated for the duration of the tune. Next, play the music while your student provides the accompaniment.
6. Rhythm Shaker Clap Backs: Trevor and I are always looking for ways to improve on clap backs, and a Rhythm Shaker is definitely one of those ways! By simply asking your students to shake a creative-looking rhythm instrument in response to your clapped rhythms, you’ve made ear training instantly more enjoyable!
Rhythm Awesomeness For Kids Who Are Too Old For Shakers
While tweens and teens may be too old for Rhythm Shakers they are never too old for rhythm training. If you’re looking for a way to make rhythm exercises the most exciting part of your piano lessons then you’ll want to check out our resource Lap Tap Clap Revolution.
In this resource we’ve combined powerful piano solos with percussion-based body beats to create a groundbreaking rhythmic learning experience for teen piano students. Click here or on the image below to check it out on Amazon.