Monthly Archives: April 2009

Third set of Notes in the Fast Lane

notes_fastlane_9-12I’m posting the next set in the speed reading series,  Notes in the Fast Lane  Levels 9-12. There are four pages and this set each contains all the notes on the grand staff from bass G to treble F. They are  arranged in a different order on each page, but all 4 pages are of equal difficulty. Please note that this is different for the previous sets I published. This set was specifically made to  work on speed. I plan to use levels 9-12 by requiring a faster time to complete each level.  For example, the last level, Level 12 would have to completed in  35 seconds. This would be something the older students can do, and a challenge for the younger children to work toward.  It might be fun to have them work several years to complete all the levels.  Young children simply cannot write as fast as older children and what is a simple matter for a teen is quite difficult for younger child.

One way to use these sheets would be to devote a few weeks to doing them now and then do it again in April next year.  Keep a chart of each level and  next year they can see how they improved. I am going to make a 4 certificates for completion of each set and some kind of chart to help keep track.

I left this series very open ended so you can do whatever works with your studio. I’m sure every teacher will do it differently. If you have used them successfully in a different way, send me an email and I’ll post it here to share with other teachers. Let me know if I can use your name.

If you want to see the other sheets in the series, you can find Levels 1-4 here and Levels 5-8 here. Each set of four has a different colored border.

Many teachers have downloaded the Mother’s Day composing activity on the staff. I have had many teachers ask me for a Father’s Day activity. I’m putting a poll here to see if the majority of teachers prefer a composing activity or an Elementary level song with no composing. If you would like something for Father’s Day, please spend 2 seconds to answer this poll.

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Filed under Note Identification, Texas State Theory Test

Mother’s Day on staff


Mother’s Day on the staff

I wanted a Mother’s Day activity for my students in Level 1,  so I modified the my pre-reading  Mother’s Day activity.  While it may look similar to the one I posted a few days ago,  because I reused  my flowers and graphics,  I wrote a new tune especially for this activity. This time I used steps and skips and two measures of hands together playing that is often a challenge at this level.

I call these measures the “tricky bits” and we learn them first,  hands separate. Then we play measure 3 and 4 hands together, but not on the keys. We play them in  the air, on the fall board, on our arm or leg, and any other way that strikes our fancy. By the time we finally get around to playing it on the piano, it is so firmly in the student’s muscle memory that the tricky bits become the “easy bits”. If they need a little more practice hands together, we start at the bottom of the keyboard and play going up or down in all the octaves. This takes a while, but it pays off when they get home. Students are more likely to practice if they have already worked out the “tricky bits.”


Filed under Composing Activities, Elementary Music, Holiday Music

Roses in the Springtime


Roses in the Springtime

A teacher asked me to re-post this springtime  song that was on my web site last year.

This song comes from a one of the piano books I wrote for my students in level 1 to work on sight reading. First I have the student circle the thirds and then look for the 4th in the LH, which is usually hard to find. It should be played legato, but I left off all the markings so the student can concentrate on reading intervals.

I always improvise a teacher accompaniment for this, in a flowing style.

For the record, you can probably tell I did not do the art for this piece. I’m not sure where I got the picture because it was several years ago.  I thought it was so pretty I couldn’t resist using it.

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Filed under Elementary Music

Notes In the Fast Lane – levels 5-8


Notes In the Fast Lane Levels 5-8

I am finally getting around to adding the next 4 levels of Notes In the Fast Lane Levels 1-4.  Teachers have written me saying how much they like these activity sheets and asking for the next levels. I didn’t have an internet connection for a few days so I am behind in my posting.

You might notice that I changed the color for these 4 sheets. I decided that if I change color after every 4 levels, it will be easier for me to keep track of them.

Some teachers have asked me for a chart to help keep track of the level of each student. I think that is a very good idea, so I am working on it. If you want a chart, just hold on and I promise to get it up by this weekend.

Don’t forget that a lot of teachers are laminating these sheets so they can use them over and over. Other teachers may want to put them in their student’s folders or send them home so parents can see what their child  is doing. Of course, you will probably find them in the bottom of their music bags, which is why teachers always ask students to get papers signed if they really want the parents to see them! That is why a folder with each students’ compositions, papers, etc. is such a good idea if you use a lot of activity sheets.

One more thing. I don’t think Notes in the Fast Lane works well with my preschool students. I did not intend these for young students, but I tried the first sheet anyway with one of my kindergarten students who is very bright. While they did help him remember the notes, the staves are too small and they are too close together.  I’m going to make a set for pre-school children that are more child-like, but I would appreciate help from any of you (especially if you use My First Piano Adventures) as to what notes should be on each page.   I will consider what each teacher says and then try to make some pages that will work for most of us.

Let me know if these are helpful in your studio!


Filed under Note Identification, Texas State Theory Test