Monthly Archives: February 2012

One Minute Club

One Minute Club 2012

Years ago I got an idea from Jane Bastien, the noted composer and music educator, to have a One Minute Club with my piano students. In order to be a member, students have to “say and play” grand staff flash cards in one minute or less. In order to commemorate their success, I started making “membership” cards for them, a different one each year, with a spot to add how many years they have been a member. Then I put it in a clear plastic name tag holder and attach it to their music bags.

If you are using the calendar and binder cover I made in the fall, you will notice this is the same theme. Also, I have made a matching chart to list your students’ times, and you can download it as soon as I post it, hopefully this week!

Last year I wrote a question and answer blog post with the frequently asked questions that are emailed to me. Here is an edited re-post for those of you who may be interested.

With what age group do you use these cards?

They are made for elementary age children. In my studio, it usually takes several years of lessons before a student can do this in less than one minute. Only a few students in grades 2-3  can do it, and I usually don’t even try it with younger students. They do not have the coordination. Older students are more interested in the gift card I give to the overall fastest student.

Why do they have to play the note as well as say the note name? Isn’t it enough to know the name of the note? 

Piano students need to know where to quickly move their hands when they see a note that is not in a five-finger position. The faster they can do this, the better they are at sight-reading. You will see sight-reading improve as well as the student’s self-confidence when they can find notes quickly. However, while it will help,  it is not the cure to sight-reading problems if the student has difficulty tracking the notes on the staff. A good sight reader does not think of individual notes as they play, but in patterns of intervals. This is just one part of the difficult skill of sight reading.

How much time do you spend on this at a lesson?

I don’t think a lot of time should be spent on this at a lesson. Just a couple of minutes each week can reap great rewards, if the student is prepared in the first place. If the student takes over 2 minutes, I usually need to prepare them better before I start. Often the problem is simply developmental. Students need to learn gradually and in a child-centered manner. That takes time and patience on the teacher’s part. Before you start flash cards, use a lot of activities and games to learn the note names. There are many on my website and other sites in the links on this blog. Don’t let this turn into drudgery!

I gave up on this because my students don’t like flash cards.  Do you have any suggestions?

Well, make sure they are old enough and have the potential to be successful. Everyone in your studio does not have to participate. Sometimes I tell a reluctant (a capable, older) student that they don’t have to win or even be able to do it in a minute. But parents are paying a lot for lessons and the least they expect is for students to learn notes and where they are located on the piano.  I have noticed that the ones who need it the most are the most reluctant. That’s natural, because kids like to do things they are good at.  Once they start getting faster it becomes so much more fun.

These cards are not  centered correctly when I print them out on my blank business cards. 

I made them for pre-perforated 2″ x 3.5″ business cards, 10 to a page. When you print the PDF file, under “size options” select “actual size.” You have to have the latest update to Adobe Reader for it to print correctly. This is a free download you can get at the Adobe Reader website.


Filed under Note Identification, Teaching Business

Joy’s Cute Piano Valentine Craft

Joy has an excellent piano teaching blog, Color In My Piano, and it is always an inspiration to me. I fell in love with this cute Piano Valentine Craft she designed and posted on her website last week. She gave me permission to use her photo above so I could blog about it here. If you like to craft, you will enjoy making these for your students.

On Joy’s website you can download a PDF that has the instructions and all the printables you need to make these. One page has the pianos, which you print on red card stock. The other page has the keyboards.

She used a box of Sweethearts candy that you can find on sale now. In fact, I saw them on sale at CVS for about $.33 each. Then my friend and inspiration, Linda, called me and excitedly told me she saw them at Dollar Tree for $.25 each.  Have fun!

In the next week or so I am posting the 2012 One Minute Club Card and  new game by Cecilly. If you want to receive an email every time I post, sign up for the subscription service on the right side of my blog. It is easy, private, and you can unsubscribe any time.

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Filed under Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Teaching Business

Hearts and Clubs – Intervals

Hearts and Clubs Interval Game

I really meant to post this earlier but it is a busy time of the year. This is an interval game using my Hearts and Clubs theme. The hearts make it a good game for Valentine’s, but it can also be played any time of the year. This is another fast learning game that will not take up very much lesson time.


  •  learn to identify intervals quickly by sight
  • review intervals if the student already knows them
  • quickly identify intervals under pressure


  • Suitable for elementary and older students who have learned intervals up to octaves
  • Some younger children can play if given lots of time

Materials Needed

  • Printed game board with the interval flash cards
  • Sand timer or stop watch
  • Bingo chips


Give the student a set of interval flash cards. Set the timer. The student quickly draws a flash card and places a bingo chip on the corresponding interval degree.  The object is to cover all the interval degrees on the game board in the fastest time possible. Beginning students might enjoy a non-timed game better.

This game can also be played with student and teacher or at a group lesson.

Student and teacher: One player uses the hearts on the game board and the other uses the clubs. Players take turns drawing flash cards and covering the corresponding interval with chips on their game board. The first person who covers all their hearts or clubs wins.

In a group: Each player has a game board and bingo chips or you can put two students on each card. Students take turns drawing flash cards and covering the corresponding interval with bingo chips. Place discarded flash cards back in the deck or print extra if you have a large group.


Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Valentine's Day