Category Archives: Teaching Aids

Make Your Own Big Magnetic Staff Board

Magnetic-Staff-Board

Magnetic Board Symbols-1

I’ve always wanted one of those big magnetic white boards  with a  music staff. They are expensive, however, so for years I’ve been planning on making my own. Recently my daughter moved and gave me an almost brand new 3’x 2′ magnetic board!

I’ve been using the magnetic board at every lesson to teach how to place sharps and flats on the staff  in order to construct key signatures.  All of my students have said it is so much easier to learn them this way. It’s also a great way to show beginners stem direction, and even learn note names. It is a lot faster and more fun than using a worksheet, too. This has been so helpful in my studio that I can’t imagine why I waited so long to actually make it!

I thought about using a marker to draw the staff lines on my board, but I was afraid I would mess it up.  Instead I decided to use 1/4″ art tape, also called drafting tape or artist tape. [Disclosure: This link to my Amazon store is just to show you art tape, and the current price is less than what I paid for mine at a craft store. Please buy it where you find the best price.] I think wider tape looks too big for the size of my notes. I wanted my lines to be about the size of a line I would draw on the board, if I had steady hands!

Magnetic white boards are a lot more expensive than the non-magnetic variety. The most expensive places are office supply stores. Sometimes Amazon has great buys, but be sure to buy the magnetic variety if you mail order one. If it doesn’t specifically say it is magnetic, it is not. Here are some suggestions to get one at the best price:

  • Use a 40% coupon at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.
  • Check out Sam’s or Cosco.
  • Buy a giant size oil changing pan at Walmart and spray paint it white. This is the real do-it-yourself method, because the big pans are under $15.00. (Make sure it is magnetic.)

It is very important to me that the symbols are “see through” just like notes on a page. So BEFORE I laminated anything, I cut out the inside white part of each symbol. Just remember, cut it out before you laminate!

 Material

  • Ready made magnetic white board about 3′ x 2″
  • Or a large metal oil pan and white spray paint, if you make your own board
  • 1/4″ black art tape
  • Heavy Paper or card stock
  • Scissors
  • Small scissors and/or craft knife
  • Template for lines
  • Thermal laminator and lamination pouches (film)
  • Magnetic tape
  • Tiny bit of glue
  • Sharpie for touch ups
  • Ruler

Instructions

Print the symbol pages with black ink and cut out each symbol. Cut out the inside of each symbol with small scissors so that there is no white showing. I cut a slit with a craft knife before I cut the inside but that is optional. Use a black sharpie along the edges if needed to cover up little bits of white.

Use your whole note as a measure to determine the size of your staff.  My staff lines are 1 1/2″ from the top of the tape line to the top of the next tape line, but you should measure your printed notes and make the lines to fit.  With a ruler make a template to show the placement of the tape.

Line up the template where you want to put the lines for the staff.  Cut tape the length of your white board and place 5 lines horizontally on the board.  In this photo, you can see I discovered the staff is too close to the edge for high ledger lines notes, so I plan to move it down. Originally I was going to make a grand staff. Staff_Whiteboard

Place the cut symbols and notes into lamination pouches. Leave enough room around each symbol so that they can be cut in rectangles and squares for ease in handling.

Staff_Whiteboard2

The Bass Clef

The dots on the bass clef should be cut out separately. Place the cut out bass clef (without the dots) inside the laminating pouch and lay it over your template. Open the pouch. Put a little bit of glue on a toothpick to glue the dots in the correct place on the laminating pouch.  The dots will need to be centered on each side of the bass F line. The glue will hold the dots in place. Then close the laminating pouch and run it through the laminator. This worked great for me and was not as hard as it sounds. Now the dots are “floating” beside the clef. My students keep asking me how I did it!

BassClef

Cut small pieces of magnetic tape and place it on the back of each symbol. Well, it wouldn’t be a Magnetic Board without magnets! :) Trim the tape as needed to fit the symbol. Every symbol needs at least 2 pieces of magnetic tape and the bigger symbols need more.

The free printable contains:

  • 1 Treble Clef
  • 1 Bass Clef
  • 8 Whole Notes
  • 7 Flats
  • 7 Sharps
  • 2 Naturals 
  • 2 Double Sharps

To conclude, it was not hard to make my magnetic staff board and symbols. In fact it was a lot easier than writing this post which took me about a week! I find it hard to write directions, so please leave a comment if you have a question about the instructions or even a suggestion! If you have made a magnetic board with an oil pan, give us some tips! I’m not sure how many do-it-yourselfers are out there, so let me know if you would like me to post some more big symbols such as time signatures, bar lines, and rhythm notes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Teaching Aids, Theory, Uncategorized

Grand Staff Binder Covers and Using Binders in Music Lessons

Covers for Student Music Binders

 Binder Covers

The front and back covers of binders are valuable real estate for learning. I noticed when I started incorporating theory information on the binder cover, they learned it easier because they see it all the time. Well, that is, if they practice they see it all the time! :)

It is well worth the few extra dollars to buy your students the kind of binder that works the best in your lessons. In my studio, the cost of the binder is deducted from their book and activity fee. However, some teachers include the price in either a registration fee or build it into the tuition fee.

I use one inch binders, and I buy the more expensive  “Clear Cover Heavy Duty” binders made by Avery. (I’m including a link to Amazon for those of you who can’t get to a store.) These are often a lot more expensive, but you can get them at the big box stores in the Back to School section for a few dollars this time of year. The thing I really like about this particular binder is the “one touch” open and close. It easily opens with one hand and I do not need to take the binder off the music rack to open it.

I print my assignment sheets on both sides, and I punch holes in both sides of the page. Then all I have to do is turn the page over to reuse it. All that page hole-punching is a lot easier since I bought an electric hole puncher  on Amazon. I’ve had it now for 3 or 4 years and it’s still going strong. It punches about 15 pages at a time. My advice is to keep it cleaned out and if your paper is thicker, such as card stock or 24 pound, put in less than recommended. My assignment page is a free download. The early childhood one is here.

The binder covers you see today match the design I posted two weeks ago. I have some students who are too young for key signature charts, so I use the grand staff binder cover instead.

Included in today’s PDF printable are:

  • A front cover with the notes of the grand staff labeled for students who are too young for a key signature chart.
  • A black and white version of the same staff.
  • The grand staff in landscape view with the notes labeled.
  • The grand staff in landscape without the note names so students can write them in.
  • The grand staff in landscape in black and white.

The version of the landscape grand staff  is similar to the one I posted last year, but it uses less ink. I laminated it and made a poster out of it but it also makes a nice binder cover. The unlabeled one is great to put inside a clear sheet protector to practice writing note names with a dry or wet erase marker. It also works on an iPad. If you don’t know how to print one page from a multi-page PDF, please see my FAQ.

When I decided to switch over to using binders, I was a little worried it would be too cumbersome and a lot of trouble. Now I have it down to a science and it works great. Teachers have a place to add Picture Scales, (legal) music downloads, and theory sheets. The pocket on the front makes a great place to store sheet music. Many teachers add a small yearly charge for the cost of ink and paper.

[Disclosure: If you buy something from my link to Amazon, I make a few cents to support the expenses of maintaining this website, so thank you for your support.  However, I encourage you to check out prices to find the best buys in your area. I absolutely do not link to something unless I have it myself and I think it is a good price.]

 

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Filed under Music Printables, Teaching Aids, Teaching Business

Color Coded Rhythm Pattern Cards

Rhythm Strips-3

Rhythm Cards Set 1

Rhythm Cards Set 2

Rhythm Cards Set 3

I’m back from a wonderful piano camp with Elizabeth Gutierrez and the nicest group of teachers you could ever want to talk to! I am so glad I got to meet them and to visit San Antonio again. Today I am posting a set of rhythm flash cards that are *color coded* so that I can quickly pull out the ones I need. That really helps me save time.  The flash cards start at primer level and progress up to intermediate. The levels below are not meant to go along with any specific method book, but are simply the progression I made the cards, especially at the later levels.

  • Red = Beginning Set
  • Aqua = Set  2A (8th notes)
  • Green = Set  2B (dotted quarters)
  • Purple = Set 3 (6/8 and triplets)
  • Yellow = Set 4 (16th notes)
  • Blue = Set 5 (dotted eighths)
  • Magenta = Set 6 (5-note tuplet and quarter note triplet)

These cards are in 3 separate PDF files to make it easier to print just the levels you need. There are 2 cards to a page. (My web go-to guy told me not to make my PDF files too big because it might cause the site to crash.) Remember to set your printer in landscape orientation. I can think of about 50 ways to use these cards, but that is a future post. I bet you can come up with lots of ideas!

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Filed under Rhythm, Teaching Aids, Texas State Theory Test

New Assignment Page With Color!

Assignment-Sheet

New Assignment Page

I made a new assignment page (assignment sheet) and I’m going to share with you why I revised my old one, which had also been revised.  I have an assignment sheet for my younger students with ladybugs and lots of color, and they love it. But when they progress and it’s time for one with more detail, all I had was a very serviceable, but boring looking black and white page. So I decided to upgrade the old one, but keep everything I like. I still use my early childhood assignment sheet for my little ones, but now when they are “promoted” it doesn’t look so intimidating to them.

I included all the bells and whistles that made my original assignment page so unusual when I first posted it. Here are all the features:

  • Print in color or grayscale (black and white)
  • Upcoming events line
  • Deadline to memorize a special piece
  • Separate major and minor circle of fifths
  • Keyboard to write scale names and fingering
  • Line for labeling the scale
  • Line for a note to parents
  • Do not forget line
  • Line to write scales, chords, or arpeggios
  • Theory, technique, and lesson book assignment lines
  • Blank staff with treble and bass clef written in
  • Two weeks worth of practice time check off boxes
  • Line for a message to the teacher

I didn’t say anything when I tried this out with my students. But the reaction was everything I hoped because they really liked it! Several mentioned that it was a lot easier to understood the major and minor circle of 5ths. They like the fact that it is in color, even though there is not much.  I tried to design a graphic that looks like it uses more color ink than it really does.

I made this as a 2 page printable, but both pages are the same.  This is because I have a duplex (prints on both sides) printer.  I select “2-sided printing” in my printer dialog box, and the number of copies I need. The printer automatically prints on both sides. That is a very nice feature if you are in the market for a new printer. I punch holes on both sides of the paper and every other week I give them a new page. Not only does it save paper, but it saves space in their binder!  If you only want to print  on one side, use these settings, and under “Copies” select the number you want to print. The arrow pointing to “1” indicates that you are printing page 1 of my printable. Then you can reinsert your pages to print on the back, if you wish, following the same instructions. (Your dialog box might look  different than mine, but I hope this will give you the idea.)

PDF printing illustration

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Filed under Teaching Aids, Teaching Business