Monthly Archives: November 2012

Jingle Bells with Rhythm Instruments at a Group Lesson

Jingle Bells with instruments

I bought the electronic version of the new book by Philip Johnston called The Dynamic Studio: How to keep students, dazzle parents, and build the music studio everyone wants to get into. (Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate because I get questions about where to buy the things I write about. Amazon sends me a few cents if a reader buys something from clicking  the book link.) Philip Johnston writes inspiring books that get me enthused to teach in different ways. One of his main ideas is to be different; don’t always do the same thing. Maybe that was on my mind when I decided to use rhythm instruments in my group lessons.

After an unsuccessful search for an easy piano/rhythm band ensemble I could use in a group lesson without a lot of preparation, I wrote my own.  I arranged this specifically to be easy enough that they could be successful without having to practice, so please keep that in mind.

I  wrote the second piano part for an electric bass, which some students can play. This part can also be played on the piano, so I call it Piano 2 in the score. You can also use bells or any other tuned instrument, and it sounds fine to omit it.

The first group was my youngest students. They absolutely loved the instruments. But if you have ever used rhythm instruments with young children, you know what a challenge they are.  I didn’t mind that some of them could not play the written part and just played the steady beat.  I was surprised that a few of them actually followed the score. I let the little beginner on the bells shake them through the entire song rather than the way I wrote it in the score. No one in that group reads well enough for the piano part. I had to play by ear because I could not find the piano score! That seemed to amuse the young group.

The second group of 9 and 10-year-old students was absolutely the right age for this activity. Without any practice, (except for the Piano 1 part, which I gave to a 5th grader the week before) they were able to read the score and play the correct rhythm. We traded instruments and repeated it a few times. I am only sorry that I didn’t record it, because they did really well. The student playing the piano part was thrilled to be part of an ensemble.

After that, we changed directions and performed on the piano for each other using good performance skills. Everyone had learned a Christmas song or a favorite piece. That did not take too long and we went on to the next activity.

They had all been looking at the electric bass and wondering why it was there. We discussed the history of the electric bass and how it was like the double bass. I also got in some theory with the older groups, as we discussed the root of chords and how that is an easy way to play the bass. This is where taking our state theory exam really helped. I demonstrated with my meager guitar skills (Me on the electric bass, how funny was that!) and then let them all try it.

Our last activity was playing a Thanksgiving board game, with different level cards for each age group. I was relieved my students enjoyed the game because I had not tried it out with a group. Even my older students had fun and reviewed some theory at the same time. Finally, we just had enough time to pass out cookies and candy canes, and they all left happy.

Later I asked what was their favorite activity. Can you guess what it was? The rhythm instruments! So with that in mind, I am sharing my simple score with you. Feel free to change the instruments to whatever you have on hand, even homemade instruments.

Obviously you don’t need a score for this simple rhythm section, but my students found it interesting, and it helped me focus. If one of your students has a family member who can play the Piano 2 part on the electric bass or any other instrument, that would be really fun, especially for a Christmas recital! Please alert me if you find any mistakes in my score, as I don’t have an editor. Have fun and if you have a successful performance, let me know!

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Filed under Christmas, Group lesson ideas, Holiday Music, Rhythm

Christmas and Seasonal Printables

It’s time for the yearly roundup of  Christmas and seasonal printables from my website.  If you can’t find the directions to some of these games,  do a search or ask in the comment section. To print, click on the picture, which will take you to my website. From there, click on “download” and you will be able to download and print the file.

Snowmen and Reindeer Notes

Snowmen and Reindeer Rhythm

The Snowmen and Reindeer theme  was a new set of Christmas games I designed last year.  My students loved the colorful design. There are cards for the games on my website.

Snowmen and Reindeer Intervals

Ornament Bingo

This is a game for beginners who are learning the names of piano keys.

  Christmas Note Bingo

This year I revised this fast, easy, bingo game. It is easier to read and uses less ink.

Christmas Composing Train

Beginning students write finger numbers or letter names to write their first song.

Christmas Worksheet

Christmas Notes in Random Order

Color the Chanukah Gift

Golden Menorah composing activity

Peppermint Notes

Students can use peppermints as notes or to construct key signatures.

Ornament Notes

This is a black and white printable for students to color the names of notes.

Draw the Ornaments

Students write notes on the grand staff on this printable. To save ink, place it inside a sheet protector or laminate it,  and  use a dry erase or a wet erase pen.

Gingerboy Keys

Light up the Tree

This is a (mostly) black and white printable for students to color notes on a Christmas tree according to the names of notes on the staff. It is similar to Ornament Notes, but different so siblings won’t have the same printable.

Christmas Musical Symbols Vocabulary

Students match music vocabulary to the correct answer.

Christmas Tree Vocabulary Words

This is a quick printable that is fun for group lessons.Students try to find all the music words.

Christmas Tune Challenge

Students love “name that tune” games. I find it very helpful to have a list of carols in plain view that they can choose from. You can list your carols on this printable.

Cards for Silly Sentences

This is a different kind of game for older students at group lessons. My high school students had fun and reviewed some music terms. Be sure to download the sentences found here, and use the easier cards for younger students.

If you are looking for easy Christmas piano music, go here, and scroll way down past all the Halloween music. I have posted many carols in pre-reading notation. Have fun!

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Filed under Christmas, Games, Holiday Activities and Worksheets

Chasing the Turkey Board Game

Chasing the Turkey

After we finish taking the state theory test, I give my students a theory break. I don’t assign formal theory work to complete at home and bring back. This makes everyone happy, including me, because by now we’re all kind of “theory weary.” But there is the problem of forgetting everything we carefully learned. So I like to play theory games to keep everything fresh in my students’ minds. They don’t mind reviewing theory in a game. In fact, they like it!

If you’re looking for a Thanksgiving game, I hope your students love this one as much as my students did. I don’t know if it was the farmer with his ax, using dice, or if it was the fact that they all beat me. (I must be the most unlucky person in the world!)  This game meets my criteria for a music lesson game. It is fast and over quickly, so it doesn’t take much lesson time.

There are several levels of cards included in this printable. Look at all seven pages in this PDF, and only print what you need. If you don’t know how to do that, see my last post for instructions. The last page in this set is an optional back to the cards, but I didn’t use it!

The nice thing about this game board is that you don’t have to print out the cards I made. I also played this game using note flash cards to review note names, and for beginners, keyboard flash cards. If you want to review all the major and minor key signatures, check out my key signature flash cards on my website.

Objective

  • To review previously learned musical symbols, intervals, key signatures, and vocabulary.
  • To enjoy a seasonal game.

Ages

  • Grades 1-5, using the appropriate cards for the concepts students have learned.

Materials

  • Game board.
  • Cards with musical symbols and terms, or use your own cards.
  • One die.
  • Tokens. (I used milk carton tops.)

Directions

  • The game can be played with two or more players
  • Print the game board and cut out the cards or use your own cards.
  • Each player puts his token on the game board. The first player draws a card and answers the question.
  • Then he rolls the die and moves the number of spaces on the die. If he lands on a circle with instructions, he follows the instructions, such as taking a short cut, or moving back to Start.
  • The game continues in the same way with the other players.
  • The first player to reach Safe is the winner.
  • Optional: Write the instructions on the back of the game board for future use.

Why I like this game

  • My students loved it and didn’t want to stop playing.
  • It really helped them remember their theory vocabulary and terms.
  • By using flash cards I already have, I can modify the game for all ages.

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Filed under Texas State Theory Test, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Games and Worksheets

A few weeks ago I posted some Thanksgiving hymns and fun songs. I just realized I have never published a list of Thanksgiving material from my website.

I’ve only made one Thanksgiving Game, and I need to make some more for an upcoming group lesson. Below is a game my students loved last year. You can find the directions here. It’s very easy and fast, plus, it comes in 3 ability levels.

Save the Turkey Game, easiest version

For a slightly more difficult version of the same game, try  Save the Turkey Game, set two

There is a more advanced version of these cards, too. The only reason I call this intermediate level is because of the key signatures.  The more difficult key signatures can be removed to make this a much easier game.

Save the Turkey, early intermediate version

Next, here are some Thanksgiving worksheets from my website.

The next worksheet, Turkey Find the Notes, can be put in a sheet protector and used with a wet erase or a dry erase marker. That way you only have to print one copy and you can use it over and over. Also, this is big enough to use with your iPad or Kindle Fire.

Turkey Find the Notes (black and white)

Color the Feathers is a quick worksheet to review treble clef notes.

Color the Feathers

I also made a black and white version. This is good to use at a group lesson with the students who come early.

Color the Feathers (black and white)

I posted my revised version of Funny Thanksgiving Food a few weeks ago. Two versions are available, one in color like the example below, and one in black and white. I made the color version to be used with an iPad or Android tablet.

Funny Thanksgiving Food

I made the Turkey Egg Worksheet to help my beginners learn the alphabetical order of notes on the staff. Some of my younger students are amazed to learn that turkeys lay eggs!

Turkey Egg Worksheet

Thanksgiving Group Lessons

If you have ever wondered how to make sure everyone has the same amount of lessons the week of Thanksgiving without taking the entire week off, try having group lessons or a Christmas performance class on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. It is too late to consider it this year, but you can put it on your calendar for next year.

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Filed under Thanksgiving, Theory