Here are the updated One Minute Club cards for this year. I made mine using pre-perforated 2″ x 3.5″ business cards, 10 to a page, which you can find at any business supply store. However, for those of you who want to use plain card stock, I also added cutting lines. I let the yellow background bleed a little past the cutting lines in case your paper shifts as you print.
If you are a new reader or maybe a parent who wants to help, here are some answers to questions you may have.
What is the One Minute Challenge?
This is a way for students to learn to say and play notes on the grand staff. If they can do it in 60 seconds or less, then they get this membership card. Once a student is the fastest in my studio, they win a gift card (my students like iTunes or restaurant cards) and “retire.” I don’t run contests as motivation, but this is something that has really worked in my studio. I got the idea of a One Minute Club years ago from an article by Jane Bastien, the noted piano composer and teacher. I thought up the idea of a different card each year when I noticed my elementary students liked to collect cards or put things in scrapbooks. You can watch a video here.
How many flash cards do you use?
I use 21 cards, the entire grand staff from bass G to treble F.
What do they do with the cards?
I give my elementary age students a plastic badge holder with a ball chain and attach it to their music bag. I ask middle and high school students if they want one.
With what age group do you use these cards?
I made the cards for elementary age children about age 8 to 11, but all my older students participate in the contest, unless they were the overall fastest in a previous year. 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 and don’t really want the “membership card.” Use your judgement as a teacher.
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. Good sight readers do 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 run the challenge for about 2 months. I don’t think a lot of time should be spent on this. Just a couple of minutes each week can reap great rewards if the student is prepared in the first place. If students take over 2 minutes, I usually need to prepare them better before I start timing. 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, know all their notes, and have the potential to be successful. Everyone in your studio does not have to participate. Sometimes I tell reluctant but capable, older students 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. If your student has a learning disability, tread very carefully.
These cards are not centered correctly when I print them out on my blank business cards.
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.
What is the time of your fastest student?
Usually the fastest student in any given year is about 21 seconds. My fastest student did it in 17 seconds several years ago. The order of the cards when you flip them for students will determine how fast they can perform, so I try very hard to keep the cards in the same order for the entire contest period. Also, the teacher flipping the cards has to be fast, too!