Grab a traditional method book and take a tour. Chances are, as you flip through the book, each page looks the same as the last. There is nothing that makes you go, “Wow!”
And this is a problem when it comes to kids learning piano.
Research has shown that the human brain is wired to respond to things that are surprising, exciting, or different. And when these “WOW” events occur, the human brain releases dopamine which increases motivation to learn more!
So what then is a teacher to do if they are using materials that lack the WOW factor? In today’s post, we’re going to help you turn boring music into novel experiences that lead to powerful learning opportunities.
Bringing The WOW Factor To Piano Lessons
If the appeal of your piano books is… less than appealing, we’re going to help you pack them full of excitement. It doesn’t take too much time or effort, but the rewards you’ll reap are well worth the bit of planning. Let’s get started:
Eye-Catching Music Makes Memories
If you want to prime your piano students’ brains for learning, every once in a while your going to have to find ways to make their music POP!
With a little creativity and some simple strategies, even the most mundane music can become magical. Give the following strategies a try:
- Glue colored paper over the title of a piano piece and have your student brainstorm a new, unique, creative and funny title. But don’t settle for random titles. Instead, play the piano piece for your student and then have her brainstorm words and phrases that are inspired by the sound of the piece.
- Give your student old nature magazines with bright, interesting and colorful images. Have your student flip through the magazine as you play the piano piece. Instruct her to find images that match the sound of the piece. When images are located, have her cut them out and then glue them to blank areas on the page around the piano piece.
- We all know kids love stickers; so use them to bring a piano piece to life. But don’t just place stickers on a piece at random. Instead, try placing a lion sticker above a fortissimo sign, a mouse sticker above a pianissimo sign or a sun sticker above a tempo marking.
Solutions For Music That Sounds Boring
When a piano piece sounds boring, often the best solution is to simply move on. Sometimes, however, there are piano pieces that just need to be practiced and played. If this is the case, try the following strategies to jazz up a tune:
- Use your improv skills to create a simple, yet powerful teacher duet to accompany the student’s music. A boring piece of music comes to life when paired with a teacher duet. Add to this the joy that comes from shared music-making and you will have created a useful learning experience.
- If you have an electric keyboard in addition to your piano, hop on over to the digital instrument and use the pre-programmed sounds to add some interest to your student’s music. While it may not seem like like a top pedagogical tool, it will bring some joy to boring music.
- If you are technically savvy, open up a program like GarageBand and teach your students how to create drum loops to accompany their piano pieces. This activity also serves as a wonderful rhythm reinforcement teaching tool.
Turn Music Into A Game-Based Learning Experience
Game-based learning is the ultimate tool for creating memorable learning experiences. Boring music becomes a handy teaching tool when used as an element of a piano game. Here is how you can turn any piano piece into a game:
- Photocopy a boring piece of music and then cut the piano piece up into individual measures. On the back of each measure, write a number between one and three. On the back of one measure write the words, “Game Over”. Next, instruct your student to place the cut measures face up on the floor. Begin the game by playing a random measure from the music in the book. Have your student locate the measure, flip over the slip of paper and record the number of points on the back. Keep playing until the “Game Over” card is revealed. At this point, have the student make note of the total number of points collected.
- Turn your student’s boring piano piece into exciting sight-reading activities. Cut out 12 one-measure snippets from the piano piece. Write the time signature and key signature at the top of the page (as some measures will be missing this information). Tape the measures in a circle on a blank piece of paper – labeling them 1 through 12 (like a clock face). Call out each number (working your way around the clock in order). As you call out each number, have your student sight-read the corresponding measure. Can your student “rock around the clock” without making a mistake?
- Choose a few bars of music and have your piano student knock the rhythm on the fallboard rather than playing the notes on the keys when they reach these chosen areas. The piece becomes instantly entertaining when sections of music are interrupted with a rap-a-tap-tap!
Or.. If Your Method Book Is Boring, Use This One Instead!
If you’re in the middle of a boring method book and it can’t yet be abandoned, the strategies above will help you get through the year without losing students.
But if you are ready to switch method books, then you should check WunderKeys Elementary Piano Level 1A. Piano students learn best when using materials that WOW them, and nothing will WOW your students better than our recently released method book.
As one teacher wrote to us to say:
“What a fabulous book! Finally, a logical, cohesive and masterful method that prevents all of those problems that off-the-shelf method books cause- highly recommend! Solid notation teaching that is pure joy to introduce and very engaging. Can’t wait for the next in the series. It’s about time pedagogy got an influx of modern flair.”
You can check out WunderKeys Elementary Piano Level 1A on Amazon. If you’re on a computer, clicking on the cover image will let you flip through it virtually. Note: The release of WunderKeys Elementary Piano Level 1B is less than a month away!