Category Archives: Note Identification

Baseball Keyboard Race

BaseballNoteRace     Baseball Keyboard Race

This game is absolutely the best way to identify the piano keys quickly. Even if you think you don’t have time for games in your lesson, you have time for this one! It’s fast and fun.

When I posted my first keyboard race game, I had no idea that using erasers to learn piano keys was going to become so popular! From the beginning, my goal has been to revolutionize piano lessons into something more fun and engaging by using hands-on activities that are educational. The fact is, children of all ages retain information and learn faster when the learning medium is fun.

I have never posted keyboard cards for this time of the year. I have pumpkins, elves, shamrocks, and snowflakes, but nothing for the spring and summer. So here they are! As a bonus, this game coordinates with the Let’s Play Ball worksheet, so you can use them together. It takes me so long to draw something, I like to use the art again!

For those of you who are new to teaching, here are the directions to the game. I don’t use the cards with the sharps and flats for beginners, but they come in handy when students get to that point in their music education.

Objective

  • To quickly identify piano keys.
  • To identify middle C.
  • Optional: to identify B flat and F sharp.

Materials

  • Piano keyboard.
  • Keyboard Race Cards.
  • Two tokens (Inexpensive erasers will not damage your keyboard.)

Directions

  • This is a two-player game, usually the teacher and student.
  • The teacher sits on the right side and the students sits on the left side of the piano bench, at each end of the piano. The students chooses if he/she wants to play with the “glove” or “baseball” cards.
  • Each player has one set of cards and one token, and places the their cards on the piano book rack. Shuffle the cards well.
  • The first player turns a card and moves his token to that piano key, the closest to his end of the piano.  The second player does the same.
  • Play continues with each player drawing a card and moving his token toward the middle of the keyboard.
  • The game is over when one player passes the middle of the keyboard. I like to use middle C with my young students.
  • Note: The player on the right side (treble end) usually loses, so that’s where I sit. Games are more fun for students if they win.

Why I like this game

  • My students love it and want to play it over and over.
  • It is the fastest and most fun way to learn keyboard names.

If you want to see cards for other times of the year, here are some links.

2 Comments

Filed under Games, Music Printables, Note Identification

Bunny Note Matching Printables in Color and Black & White

 

Bunny Notes

Bunny Note Matching Worksheets

Maybe you remember the Bunny Bass Notes that I posted several years ago. Well, evidently my short attention span got the better of me and I never made one for the treble notes.

So, recently I decided to complete the set.  While I was at it, I remade it from the ground up. I drew a new bunny, changed the fonts, and generally updated it. I also made black line (black and white) for those of you without color printers. My daughter tells me I should not say “black and white” because printers cannot print white. I know that, but old habits die slowly. So all you young whipper snappers, please don’t laugh at my old terminology. It dawned on me that some of my material is older (pre-Windows!) than the teachers who are using it! So I am going to continue to update my older material to bring it into the 21st century.

There are four pages, 2 in color and 2 in black line. Select the pages you want before you print them. If you don’t know how to do that, or if you have any trouble printing, please check out my FAQ’s above. 

These printables have big staves and a big type face,  so they are great for  younger students. To save on printing, I suggest you put them into page protectors and use dry erase markers so you only have to print one copy. You can store them in a binder for use next year. However, I tried to design them so they don’t use a lot of ink so we can use them in our students’  binders.

I’ve posted a lot of Easter material over the years. Go to the free section, select older free resources, and start scrolling! You can also do a search on this page to find older material. There are hundreds of free printables of all kinds you can select from. Thank you so much for your very kind donations that help so much with the expenses for hosting this site!

Enjoy!

4 Comments

Filed under Easter, Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Music Printables, Note Identification

One Minute Challenge

OneMInuteClubPP2014One Minute Challenge 2014

Jane Bastien,  composer, method book author,  and piano pedagogy expert talked about an idea that I use with my piano students. This post explains how I do it. 

I thought up the idea of a different card each year when I noticed my elementary students liked to collect cards and put things in scrapbooks. You can watch a video here of my students saying and playing flash cards.  If you need little mini cards, click here for mini grand staff cards and here for mini ledger line cards. If you use different color card stock for each level, it makes it easier.

Teachers who do this each year have their own way of doing things. Some tell me they have different sets of cards for each level. Some use less cards for younger students and more cards for high school students.

Included in this year’s PDF file is the set of “membership cards” that are made to be printed on pre-perforated business card stock, a large certificate for those of you who like to give out certificates at your recital, and a chart to post each student’s time, as they try each week to improve.

Since I’ve written at length about this over the years, here are some frequently asked questions from the past.

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, 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.”  This is something that my students look forward to each year.

What is the age of students who participate?

I made the cards for children about age 8 to 11, but most my older students participate in the contest, unless they were the overall fastest in a previous year.  In my studio, it takes several years of lessons before a student can do this in less than one minute. Only a few students in grades 3  can do the entire grand staff, so I don’t try that with younger students. This year, I am going to try something different and use just the 9 cards around middle C for my K-grade 3 students. They asked to join in the fun, so we’ve been preparing all year. Use your judgement as a teacher.

How many flash cards do you use?

I use 21 cards, the entire grand staff from bass G to treble F. As I said above, this year I am trying something different. 

What do they do with the cards?

I give my elementary age students a plastic badge holder with a chain and attach it to their music bag. I ask middle school students if they want one. Some teachers post them on the wall.

Why do they have to play the note as well as say it? 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. This is not a cure for students who can’t sight read because they have difficulty tracking notes on the staff and/or other problems that often seem insurmountable. However, for average students, I notice sight reading skills improve as they learn where to move their hands. 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 free resources 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?

Some teachers can make this fun and some can’t. If you still want to try, make sure they are old enough, know all their notes, and have the potential to be successful. Do a lot of note naming activities before you start. Prepare them well. Realize that not everyone in your studio has to participate.  There are many pages of note naming resources on my website and other websites. If your student has a learning disability, tread very carefully. Not every idea works with every student. I have had students who freeze up when they are being timed, especially if they are older beginners.

These cards are not centered correctly when I print them out on my blank business cards. What am I doing wrong?  

When you print the PDF file, under “size options” select “actual size.” You need the latest update to Adobe Reader for it to print correctly. This is a free download you can get at the Adobe Reader website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Comments

Filed under Note Identification, Teaching Aids

Are You a Line or Space? A Quick Valentine Activity!

 

Are You a Line or Space

 Are You a Line or Space

I am always looking for something different to do with my students, to shake things up a bit and add some fun to piano lessons.

I put a sign on my front door, “Are You a Line or Space?” This made them curious and got them interested. They all had no idea what I was planning on doing, but they have come to expect that piano lessons are not going to be the same-old thing.

I printed two staves with either line or space notes shaped like hearts. Since Valentine’s Day is coming up,  I used that as a theme.

I told them I was doing a musical experiment on lines and spaces. I explained there would be two teams, the Lines and the Spaces,  and I wanted to see which was the easiest for students. They could choose their team or pick a line or space card from a bowl to be assigned a team. I have some students who would take 10 minutes to decide, and I need to move fast in piano lessons, so picking from the bowl turned out to be a time saver for those indecisive or aprehensive students.  

 I sat them down in front of either a line or space card. While I timed them with my phone stopwatch, they placed a bingo chip on each note as they called out the name of the note. 

It didn’t take long, and students were allowed to try several times, so I could write down their fastest time on the printable I made to record the times. The more practice, the better, and everyone wanted to try it several times.  Even so, it took less than 5 minutes.

Many of the students decided to be on the “space” team, because they said spaces are the easiest. That was fine with me. What they don’t know yet is that next week I’m going to post the Are You Ready to Switch poster, and we are going to switch sides!

I hoped to have time to made ledger line cards, but I didn’t. However, you could use my mini-ledger line flash cards and accomplish the same thing. Spread them out of the table and play the same way.

Yesterday I shared this activity  with my Facebook Group, Piano Teacher FunMakers. I really wasn’t planning on blogging about it, because it’s kind of silly, the clip art is from other things I’ve made, and the printables were hastily made to get it done before my students arrived!

But, it has turned out to be fun and I wanted to share. I told teachers  I would get this posted in time for them to use it Monday, if they wish, so here it is. If you start Monday, you will have 2 weeks to play it before Valentines. Hope you have fun with it! I know we are!

 

15 Comments

Filed under Games, Note Identification, Valentine's Day

Celebrate! – a Birthday Game

CelebrateNoteNaming copy

Celebrate Note Naming Game

Celebrate! Note Game all started when I decided to update my New Year’s game. Then I started thinking that it would be a lot more useful if I changed it into a birthday game! What is more fun than celebrating birthdays! I’ve always wanted a game I could pull out the week of a student’s birthday. But I tested this game with my students when it wasn’t their birthday, so now I realize you can play this game anytime! Everyone likes to think about birthdays. My students helped me with the reward/penalty cards, and I hope your students enjoy them as much as mine did.

To make it easier on all my dear teacher friends, and, I have to admit, myself,  I color coded the note levels. The yellow stars are for beginners who are learning the notes in middle C position and the blue cards contain the rest of the notes on the grand staff. The green cards have the difficult ledger line notes that always cause students to stumble. So you can even use the ledger line version of this game at group lessons with your older students. Let’s face it, high school students don’t really want to play games with the teacher, but with a group it’s different.

There are so many ways you can play this. Every time we tested it out here in my studio, we changed around the rules.  I am going to list a few ways to play, and please feel free to take it from there. And if you come up with a version your students enjoyed, leave a comment here to share with other teachers. Email me if you don’t understand the directions.

MATERIALS

  • Celebrate! game board.
  • Star cards cut into circles, including the levels you wish to use and the reward/penalty star cards.

DIRECTIONS FOR STUDENT/TEACHER: SHORT VERSION

  • Print only one copy of the game board. You and your student will use the same game board.
  • Place the note cards and the reward/penality cards in a container. Use the level of cards that are appropriate for your student.
  • Each player will chose a color of star to cover. For example, the student will cover the yellow stars on the board, and the teacher will cover the blue stars.
  • Players take turns closing their eyes and drawing a card from the container.
  • After drawing a card, the player identifies the note and places the card on his color star on the game board.
  • If young beginners do not get the note correct, help them out. The idea is to learn notes, not win. This depends on the age of the student, of course.
  • The object of the game is to cover all of one color of stars on the game board.

DIRECTIONS FOR STUDENT/TEACHER OR GOUP: LONGER VERSION

  • Print one game board for each player.
  • Print note cards with the ratio of one page per player. The cards can be all the same color (such as all yellow or all green) or a mixture of levels.
  • Play the game as above, but the object is to cover all the stars (both colors) on the game board.

OBJECTIVE

To review the names of notes on the staff.

14 Comments

Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Note Identification