Don’t Swipe My Sharp! – An Easy Game To Learn Sharps and Flats

Don't Swipe My Sharp

Don’t Swipe My Sharp

The other day a student was working on accidentals while his sibling was waiting. “Why don’t you play the Don’t Swipe My Sharp game?” he asked. He told me that it was one of his favorite games and it really helps to learn sharps and flats. An older students thought this game up and if you don’t use the cutesy game pieces, it makes a good game for older students.

Even if you don’t have much time in your lesson for activities, I think this one is worth it. It is really lots of fun, with players swapping playing pieces back and forth, but learning while they play.

I  totally remade the playing cards with new graphics that fit a business card template, and I added a lot more “Swipe” cards, which has made the game so much more fun.  Get the PDF here. There is also a page of instructions, so don’t use your business card stock on that. I included the instruction page so you can store it with your cards in case you forget how to play. If you have already downloaded this game, I hope it has helped your students!

It is hard to explain this game, even though it is easy, so I made this visual guide. If you don’t understand it, let me know.

Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp1

 

Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp2

Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp3

 

Don't-Swipe-My-Sharp4

 

 

 

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Make Your Own Big Magnetic Staff Board

Magnetic-Staff-Board

Magnetic Board Symbols-1

I’ve always wanted one of those big magnetic white boards  with a  music staff. They are expensive, however, so for years I’ve been planning on making my own. Recently my daughter moved and gave me an almost brand new 3’x 2′ magnetic board!

I’ve been using the magnetic board at every lesson to teach how to place sharps and flats on the staff  in order to construct key signatures.  All of my students have said it is so much easier to learn them this way. It’s also a great way to show beginners stem direction, and even learn note names. It is a lot faster and more fun than using a worksheet, too. This has been so helpful in my studio that I can’t imagine why I waited so long to actually make it!

I thought about using a marker to draw the staff lines on my board, but I was afraid I would mess it up.  Instead I decided to use 1/4″ art tape, also called drafting tape or artist tape. [Disclosure: This link to my Amazon store is just to show you art tape, and the current price is less than what I paid for mine at a craft store. Please buy it where you find the best price.] I think wider tape looks too big for the size of my notes. I wanted my lines to be about the size of a line I would draw on the board, if I had steady hands!

Magnetic white boards are a lot more expensive than the non-magnetic variety. The most expensive places are office supply stores. Sometimes Amazon has great buys, but be sure to buy the magnetic variety if you mail order one. If it doesn’t specifically say it is magnetic, it is not. Here are some suggestions to get one at the best price:

  • Use a 40% coupon at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
  • Check out Sam’s or Cosco.
  • Buy a giant size oil changing pan at Walmart and spray paint it white. This is the real do-it-yourself method, because the big pans are under $15.00. (Make sure it is magnetic.)

It is very important to me that the symbols are “see through” just like notes on a page. So BEFORE I laminated anything, I cut out the inside white part of each symbol. Just remember, cut it out before you laminate!

 Material

  • Ready made magnetic white board about 3′ x 2″
  • Or a large metal oil pan and white spray paint, if you make your own board
  • 1/4″ black art tape
  • Heavy Paper or card stock
  • Scissors
  • Small scissors and/or craft knife
  • Template for lines
  • Thermal laminator and lamination pouches (film)
  • Magnetic tape
  • Tiny bit of glue
  • Sharpie for touch ups
  • Ruler

Instructions

Print the symbol pages with black ink and cut out each symbol. Cut out the inside of each symbol with small scissors so that there is no white showing. I cut a slit with a craft knife before I cut the inside but that is optional. Use a black sharpie along the edges if needed to cover up little bits of white.

Use your whole note as a measure to determine the size of your staff.  My staff lines are 1 1/2″ from the top of the tape line to the top of the next tape line, but you should measure your printed notes and make the lines to fit.  With a ruler make a template to show the placement of the tape.

Line up the template where you want to put the lines for the staff.  Cut tape the length of your white board and place 5 lines horizontally on the board.  In this photo, you can see I discovered the staff is too close to the edge for high ledger lines notes, so I plan to move it down. Originally I was going to make a grand staff. Staff_Whiteboard

Place the cut symbols and notes into lamination pouches. Leave enough room around each symbol so that they can be cut in rectangles and squares for ease in handling.

Staff_Whiteboard2

The Bass Clef

The dots on the bass clef should be cut out separately. Place the cut out bass clef (without the dots) inside the laminating pouch and lay it over your template. Open the pouch. Put a little bit of glue on a toothpick to glue the dots in the correct place on the laminating pouch.  The dots will need to be centered on each side of the bass F line. The glue will hold the dots in place. Then close the laminating pouch and run it through the laminator. This worked great for me and was not as hard as it sounds. Now the dots are “floating” beside the clef. My students keep asking me how I did it!

BassClef

Cut small pieces of magnetic tape and place it on the back of each symbol. Well, it wouldn’t be a Magnetic Board without magnets! :) Trim the tape as needed to fit the symbol. Every symbol needs at least 2 pieces of magnetic tape and the bigger symbols need more.

The free printable contains:

  • 1 Treble Clef
  • 1 Bass Clef
  • 8 Whole Notes
  • 7 Flats
  • 7 Sharps
  • 2 Naturals 
  • 2 Double Sharps

To conclude, it was not hard to make my magnetic staff board and symbols. In fact it was a lot easier than writing this post which took me about a week! I find it hard to write directions, so please leave a comment if you have a question about the instructions or even a suggestion! If you have made a magnetic board with an oil pan, give us some tips! I’m not sure how many do-it-yourselfers are out there, so let me know if you would like me to post some more big symbols such as time signatures, bar lines, and rhythm notes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Pre-reading Music Bundle

 

Pre-reading Piano Music Set 2

Pre-Reading Piano Set 2

The set I’m posting today has 5 more pre-reading pieces. Several of these pieces are about back to school. Two have never been posted or shared on my website, so today is their debut! The other ones I’ve posted before, but I’ve revised them to portrait orientation to use in binders.

One of the new ones is The Golden Rule. If you notice any similarities to Red Light, Green Light,  or Right Hand, Left Hand, and other pieces I wrote, well, it is on purpose.

You see, I had little 4-year-old who just loved Red Light, Green Light. For an entire year he played it over and over. So I started writing new lyrics and drawing different art using the same notes in order to expand his “repertoire.” Of course he loved those, too.

Here’s the run down of today’s bundle.

  1. It’s October is the easiest of the set.  There are no notes,  just left hand finger numbers. I wrote it to give one on my students more experience in “floating” down the keyboard.
  2. Snail, Snail is a traditional children’s song and is the only one in the set I didn’t write. Brace the 3rd finger with the thumb and drop into the keys. Moms and Dads, don’t let your child poke at the key or play with stick fingers.
  3. Play The Golden Rule with firm finger tips and alternate between the left and right hand. The yellow section is hands together.
  4. T-Ball is for fingers 2, 3, and 4 on CDE. Keep the hands in a rounded position, drop into the keys, and keep that thumb forward, not dangling off the keys. It’s fun to wrap their fingers around a ball to show a nice rounded hand position. I have some mini promotional sports balls that I’ve collected over the years. They are good for little hands.
  5. Back to School is the twin to T-Ball. It uses CDE only, with fingers 2, 3, and 4, and is a great way to start learning the names of the white keys.

If you like these, check out my other post with 5 different pre-reading pieces.

If you’re able, please consider making a donation to help maintain the site. To those who support us, thank you! Your help is what maintains this site, which is dedicated to piano teachers who want to continue the legacy that has been passed to us.

 

 

 

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Pre-Reading Music for Young Beginners Bundle

 

Beginners Music

Pre-reading Piano Set 1

Summer is winding down, school is starting back, and for piano teachers that often means new piano students. I remember when I was a classroom music specialist.  I had a guitar and students would wildly raise their hands to request their favorite songs and bob up and down with excitement. Children love music. So when piano students sit on my bench, I try for that same kind of enthusiasm. But piano is a lot harder for children, no doubt about it. What can I do to make them as enthused about piano lessons as they were when I pulled out my guitar for a sing-along? And can I share my ideas with other teachers around the globe? That is why I started this blog.

If you’re looking for some pre-reading music to use with your beginners, here are some old favorites of mine. They were originally made in landscape orientation, which allowed me to make the score larger. I’ve updated them, because parents kept telling me how hard it was to play sideways pages in a binder. I agree! So I am gradually revising all my pre-reading pieces from landscape (sideways) to portrait view. It takes a lot longer than you may think, which is why it is a gradual project. It is almost like starting over because I have to resize everything before I move it around.  But it is so much easier to use in a binder that it’s really worth it for my students. And in the spirit of sharing, I’m offering these to you, too.

If you want to see the landscape versions, go here to my old site, scroll down, and click the page numbers at the very bottom.

These pieces can be used at the first lesson, depending on age and ability,  and are appropriate for ages 4 to 7. All of them are on the black keys, which means students do not have to know the names of the keys. Only fingers 2, 3, and 4 are used. The two easiest ones are What the Robin Said to the Worm and What the Worm Said to the Robin.

The five pieces in this set are:

  • Red Light, Green Light – color coded to show which hand to use.
  • What the Robin Said to the Worm – No notes on this one, only finger numbers.
  • What the Worm Said to the Robin – This is the partner to the previous piece, using two fingers.
  • Hot Cross Buns – 2 pages, one for each hand on the black keys.

If you have some pre-reading favorite of mine that you would like me to re-do in portrait,  post the name of the piece in the comment section here, and I’ll put them at the top of my list!

Please follow my terms of use. I own the copyright. You may print these for private piano teaching or personal use. They may not be sold or redistributed by any means, including file sharing or posting on the internet. 

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