Monthly Archives: July 2008

Picture Scales


I’m trying to post everything that is on my website here, because it is easier to organize material into categories on this blog. I originally made these Five Finger Major Picture Scales for a very young student who was having some trouble reading notes. It was so long ago I can’t even remember who I made it for, but it is one of the most popular downloads on my web site. You can print out just one page or the whole set.  The Minor Five Finger Picture Scales  are also posted on my website,

I am a very big fan of learning all the major and minor 5-finger positions because it helps piano students in so many ways: hand position, transposition, theory, ear training; the list goes on and on. I always teach them in the circle of 5ths because later it helps with the theory. After we learn the 5-finger scales we learn cross over arpeggios in all the major and minor keys. Young students love how “big” they sound when they can do that.

Comments Off on Picture Scales

Filed under Uncategorized

Rhythm Pizza

This makes me really hungry for a New York cheese pizza. I had the best one on Long Island about a zillion years ago when our choir was on tour. It was so good it didn’t need toppings. But this isn’t a food blog, so I’ll discuss the four pages of Rhythm Pizza.

Do you ever have to explain 8th notes to a young student who hasn’t learned fractions yet? Sometimes I have to give a short math lesson before the students gets it. From my Kodaly training I know that all I need to teach is that an 8th is two sounds on the beat, but sometimes that isn’t enough for students, especially if they are planning on taking the 4th grade of the *Texas State Theory Test*.  Students may have a little trouble understanding why an eighth is shorter than a quarter. 

I think the Rhythm Pizza is a fun way to explain it. You can cut out all the pizzas. Then cut out halves, quarters, and eighths on the black lines. First you  place the halves over the whole pizza. Then the quarters over that, and finish with the eighths.  You can tell a story about how you thought you were going to eat the whole thing, and then people show up and you have to divide it into halves for 2 friends, then quarters for 4 friends, and then eighths. Or you can give the pieces to the student to put together to make 3 puzzles.  Maybe you don’t want to cut it up, but just show the student.

If you can think of any other ways to use this, post it here. And if takes too long to download these 4 PDF pages, let me know and I post them separately.


Filed under Uncategorized

Keeping Your Materials Together

If you are like me, you collect all kinds of helpful teaching items from the web, workshops, and other teachers. It can start to pile up and if it’s not organized I tend to forget about it. To help keep it useful here is what I do.

I print out everything that interests me and I write the web address on it if it is something I may want to print more of later. I put it in a sheet protector, bottom left in the picture above, and then a binder with a cover I made.  My cover says “Making Piano Fun”, top left. Once your binder starts getting large, get some subject dividers and put your material into categories.

If it’s something I need to cut up, I keep one copy intact and cut up another copy and put in the same sheet protector. Once something is cut up, after a few months I sometimes forget what it is!

I used to use file folders for my stuff, but I find sheet protectors and binders are so much easier to find things. Be sure to buy sheet protectors that don’t require you to put holes in your worksheets and buy them in bulk because they are a lot less expensive that way.

On the top right you see my trusty paper cutter. I don’t know what I would do without it because I use it all the time. It’s very old and I don’t think my brand is available any more, but I have seen them for a reasonable price at Sam’s. If you use a lot of home made material, a paper cutter is very handy, especially if you have a lot of students like me. All my notices and reminders are done 2 to a page so the paper cutter has saved me a lot of paper over the years.

On the paper cutter there is a roll of clear adhesive book cover that I bought at Office Depot. I find it easier than clear contact paper that I used when I taught school before laminating machines were available. But check around because sometimes teacher supply stores will offer good deals on laminating. I don’t laminate everything because it is not necessary.

Also on the paper cutter are colored glass drops that I use for game tokens. I bought them at a store that sells marbles for 15 cents each. For bingo games you need to either make tokens yourself by cutting out paper, which is easy if you have a paper cutter, or check around and see if you can find some little plastic discs. I found some on a web site for a very reasonable price.

On the bottom right is a good quality card stock that really makes my graphics pop out. I also use 32 lb. paper for some things because it is cheaper than card stock but holds up better than 24 pound paper. Twenty pound paper is just too light weight for all the color I use in my games.

I’m sure I’ve left off something, but if you have games and worksheets on every surface of your teaching area, this might get you started organizing it. If anyone would like me to post cover to use with your binder, let me know and I will.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Music Alphabet

I made this work sheet so students can arrange the music alphabet starting at any note, going forwards and backwards. Younger students, especially, have trouble going backwards, and yet it is important that they know what is a step below a given note. There are many ways to use these cards, so be creative and let me know your ideas! Music Alphabet


Filed under Uncategorized