Category Archives: Steps and Skips

Ornament Moves

Ornament Moves Steps and Skips

Ornament Moves Steps and Skips

Today’s post is a Christmas worksheet to review steps and skips. In addition to printing this, it works well downloaded on a tablet because all the student has to do is check the correct answer.

If you print this, I suggest you make one copy and either laminate it or put it in a page protector. That way you can use a dry erase pen and re-use the worksheet with each student.

If you are a teacher who laminates worksheets, here is a great hint I learned from another piano teacher recently!

If the ink stays on the worksheet very long, it becomes hard to erase.  All you need to do is wipe it with a cleaning pad such as the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or a similar product. You do not need to wet the cleaning pad. This works great for all those hard to erase laminated worksheets and labels.

However, please do not try this on your  white boards, because I’m sure it will ruin them. Limit using the pad to your homemade material that can be reprinted if there is any damage.

[Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in any way, and only recommend it because it is a handy tip.]



Filed under Christmas, Steps and Skips, Worksheets

Autumn Acorns A C E



Autumn Acorn ACE

The popular composer and piano pedagogy teacher Elizabeth Gutierrez suggested in her Piano Camp for Piano Teachers  workshop a few years ago that learning the notes A C E on the staff is one of the easier ways for beginners to learn note names. So I don’t want to take credit for this idea, although it is a good one! Instead of having to remember a lot of acronyms and guide notes, students just learn where ACE is located on the grand staff. As a bonus, they learn skips, too, and the student can play the ACE position on the piano as they learn the notes. After learning A C E, they can branch off and learn the notes above and below. Line notes are hard, but it is easier if you always know where A C and E are!

I just want to mention that in my experience, no matter how well a student knows the names of notes, that does not ensure he or she will be a good sight reader. I think we all have students who get A’s on theory tests and are very zippy with flash cards, but not so good sight reading music at the piano bench.  So many people don’t seem to realize that the two are very different skills that use different part of the brain. And everyone’s brain is wired differently. A student does not have to be a good sight reader to be a good musician, although it is a wonderful skill.

If learning the names of notes confidently doesn’t always mean the student is going to be able to read music well at the piano, why bother? Here are some reasons, and you probably have some you can add to the list!

  • It gives students confidence that they are musicians.
  • It helps students jump around to different notes on the piano.
  • Even if students can’t sight read that well, they can work through the music in their own comfort zone at home.
  • They can learn music theory, which is rather impossible if you don’t know what the notes are!
  • They can compose and write their music on staff paper.


Filed under Note Identification, Steps and Skips, Worksheets

Step Skipping Along Game Revised


Step Skipping Along GameStep Skipping Along Game

I believe this is the first “computer-made” game I posted on my website to share with others.  It has been downloaded many times by music teachers all over the world. When I originally made it, I didn’t know how to combine PDF files into a multi-page document and I’ve always intended to fix that.

So I finally did!  While I was at it, I remade the art on the game board and the step and skip cards. Styles change, just like clothes, and I learn how to do things better.

I also reduced considerably the number of cards that go along with the game. Plus, I made the new cards to fit  business card size card stock, which so many teachers have asked me to do so they don’t have to cut anything.

If you have never printed the old Step Skipping Along game,  you might want to try out this new version. The directions are very simple. Even so, it is a helpful game that helps students recognize steps and skips quickly, and that makes them better sight-readers.


  • To recognize seconds, thirds, and repeated notes on the bass and treble staff


  • All students who are working on steps and skips on the staff


  • Game token for each player
  • Game Board printed on card stock
  • Step and skips cards printed on business card stock, or cut if printed on regular card stock
  • Optional cards with written instructions

Directions for 2 players

  • The first player draws and identifies a card as a step, skip, or repeat.
  • If it is a repeated note, the student stays in the same place.
  • If it is a third, the student moves his token forward, skipping the note next to the one he is on. Skips will be to notes of the same color.
  • If the note is a second, the student moves his token forward to the next note. It will be a note of a different color.
  • If a student draws an (optional) card with text, he follows the directions.
  • The first player who reaches “finish” is the winner.
  • The optional cards with written instructions speed up the game if you have very limited time.

Why I like this game

  • The directions are easy and I don’t forget how to play it.
  • It focuses on one skill: reading steps, skips, and repeats.
  • It is a very fast game that a teacher can play with a student in less than 5 minutes
  • It is good for all ages of beginners.

[Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate, which means that if you buy something from my Amazon store, I earn a few cents, which helps support the website. Also, it is a way for me to show you what product I am referring to.]


Filed under Games, Steps and Skips

The Doughnut Mystery: It’s “D” Day!

The Doughnut Mystery

The Doughnut Mystery

[Ed. All seven Animal Alphabets songs can be found here. AlphabetAnimalSongsBundle]

I decided to make a series of songs, worksheets, and games focusing on one note at a time. Today I am posting The Doughnut Mystery, D for dog and D for doughnut. If you have ever played a one note song, I must mention that it is a lot more fun with the duet. At least that is what one of my intermediate students said, who saw it in my studio and wanted to try it out. (Actually he said it was a boring song, but the duet made it fun, so I took that for a compliment!) Fortunately, younger students are not as hard to please.

If we teach young children, we know that some students need to take the scenic route when learning to read notes on the staff. It is so satisfying to see the feeling of accomplishment on their face, rather than frustration.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know that I do not teach reading by “typing in” the names of each note. I don’t ask my students to say note names out loud as they play music from their books. That takes all the joy out of playing piano and made my own children cry. I learned so much about teaching piano from my own children.

Instead, we learn to read music by intervals. Cards like the ones I posted recently really help to learn to play by steps and skips. I’m reposting them below, and on my website you can find some older ones that are larger and not as fancy. I was worried that these cards would confuse students who are also learning to read notes on the staff, but that has not happened to my students.

Notey NoteheadsNotey Noteheads

Prereading step and skip flashcards

Pre-reading Cards

With that disclaimer, I do think children should learn the names of notes, because how can they learn theory if they don’t know the names of notes? Plus, students need the confidence to move around the keyboard, or to find the starting note. Learning to read music has three parts: learning to sight-read by intervals and patterns to the best of the student’s ability, learning to quickly identify all the notes on the staff, and knowing where these notes are on the instrument.

How I Introduced D

After I showed the student middle D on the staff, I placed large size flash cards around the room. Some of them were D, and he searched all around the room and collected them. Next, we got out the big floor staff and played games. Then, we drew D’s on a large staff (to the best of his ability). We also identified D’s in a method book. I also made a new game to find D, and we played that.

Finally, I decided we were ready to play middle D on the piano. He was so excited! First we learned the words to The Doughnut Mystery and “drummed” and chanted them on the piano cover. Then we practiced changing fingers on the piano cover, making doughnuts with the fingers. After he could play it by himself, I played the teacher duet, and it was perfect! He loved it!

To reinforce reading by intervals, I followed that up with some of the pre-reading cards posted above.

The next week he came back and told me the D note fell off, that’s why it’s on the bottom and the dog ate it. That let me know that he has internalized the location of D on the staff.

If you teach 4-6 year old children or have a learning challenged student, you might want to try this out!


Filed under Note Identification, Pre-reading, Preschool Music Resources, Steps and Skips