Category Archives: Theory

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

RoboRama – A Fun Robot Board Game!

RoboRama

RoboRama

My husband made some robot figures on his 3D printer and gave them to me. Since I have a lot of students who like robots, I thought it would be fun to make a game and use them.

Keeping with my piano game philosophy of only playing fast games so we can spend most of our time learning artistry at the piano, (yes, that is my goal, after all!) I created a game called RoboRama. I tested it out on my K-5 students and both girls and boys liked it, so I decided it is worth sharing. This game can be played in less than 5 minutes if you play it the way we did.  It’s over so fast they were excited to have time to play it more than once.

This is a game to review theory terms, so I made the cards in different levels, starting with primer. I actually went through all the primer level books I’ve collected over the years to make sure I was using common primer level symbols.  So keep this game in mind when you start new students. If your student is really new, you can print out several pages of just the keyboard cards and play with those. Texas teachers, the key signatures for the 5th grade of the TMTA test are included.

To allow the different levels to be easy to use, I made 2 different ink-saving colored backs for the theory cards. This allows me to customize a game using cards from several levels, and to easily put the cards back in the correct order. You can do the same thing by using different colored card stock for each level, or even writing, drawing, or using stickers on the back to help you keep the levels straight. I don’t know about you, but I have different levels of students who come back to back and if I want to use the game with all of them I need to be able to separate the cards quickly. Check out my FAQ above if you don’t know how to keep from printing the entire document.

I used a business card template, because I have a large box of business cards that I bought on sale some years ago, and I have plenty left. If you don’t have business cards or you want to use colored card stock, there are cutting lines on the edges. Here is a link to Amazon if you want to order a large box of 1000 cards at a good price that will last you years and years. [Amazon pays me a few cents if you buy something I link. It helps support the growing cost of maintaining this site.]

When I was writing the directions for this game, it seemed so complicated, but it’s really not. Actually, it’s a fast and easy game, because that is all I can think of!

Students answer a question, roll a die, and move the number on the die. They move on the green dots on the outside oval. If they land on a big green dot next to a house, they start moving toward the center. If they draw a RoboRama card, they try to knock over an opponent’s token. That’s all there is to it!

Your students might be interested to know that robotics clubs often have contests with motorized robot vehicles that are programmed to move ping-pong balls. My husband and son have made these kinds of robots and I love to watch robot contests, so that is where I got the idea for this game.

 Objective

  • To review musical symbols, intervals, key signatures, a few notes in middle C position, and some music vocabulary words.

 Ages

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

 Number of Players

  • Two to four players. The teacher can play with a student, or students can play in a group lesson.

Materials

  • Game board and symbol card printables.
  • One die.
  • A different, small token for each player that stands, so it can be knocked over.
  • One ping-pong ball or another small rolling ball.

Directions

  • Print the game board and cut out the cards.
  • Each player puts their token on a house on the game board. The first player draws a card and identifies the symbol. If students do not know the symbol, give them hints until they get it correct. No one loses a turn if they don’t know the answer in my games! We are not trying to teach life lessons about winning and losing, just learning a little music theory.
  • After drawing and answering the card, the student rolls the die and uses that number to move their token on the green dots of the large outside oval, not toward the center. Players take turns drawing cards, rolling the die, and moving their token on the green dots on the outside oval.
  • When a student lands on one of the large green dots next to a house, they turn and move toward the center, playing the same way as before.  The first player to reach the center is the winner.
  • If no player lands on a large green dot, the game is over when a player goes completely around the oval and passes or lands on his starting “home.”
  • However, if a player draws a RoboRama card, he rolls the ping-pong ball to try to knock over an opposing player’s token. If he is successful, he gets 2 more turns to draw and the opposing player starts over at “home”. If he is unsuccessful, you can adjust the rules to the age of the student. The older students let to set the rules before they start. There is a big difference in kindergarten and 5th grade. Really any way you play is fine, as long as the students are having fun and learning something.
  • Students always ask me if they need to roll the exact number as they head toward the winning center. That depends on the age of the student and how much time we have. In a piano lesson, if they roll a number over the required number to get to the center, they win. In a piano camp or a long group lesson, I might require the exact number to get to the center.

Why I Like This Game

  • It doesn’t take much lesson time.
  • When I play this game with students, I discover right away what they know and what they need work on. So it is like an achievement test, only a lot more fun!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Music Printables, Theory

Let’s Learn Scales

 

WholeHalfStepKeyboard

Printable Keyboard (for Scales F-B)

C Scale Keyboard (New)

Last year I posted a game, the Whole Half Step Game, that I developed to construct scales on the piano keyboard. Recently, I made a paper keyboard using the same colors as the game so it will be a set. Students often have trouble transferring knowledge from one skill to another similar skill. I’m sure you’ve noticed that in your teaching. This paper keyboard is big enough so that students can use manipulatives on it to construct scales. At the bottom is the whole half step pattern for major and minor scales, as a reference.  

I’m sure you creative teachers can think of a game to go along with this printable. Please share if you do!

Before you use either of these materials, be sure they understand the difference in a whole and half step.

As a bonus, this keyboard is so large that it works well on the iPad!

So what comes first, a paper keyboard or a real keyboard? Generally, a real keyboard works best for most children. They need to go from concrete to abstract. However, some children benefit from getting away from the piano. All of us learn differently, so a multi-sensory approach is a good thing. If they don’t get it one way, try another! It’s worth remembering that when they do theory worksheets, they will not have a real keyboard, so they need to learn how to transfer information.

By the way, the Whole Step Half Step Game, which I posted about a year ago, is an excellent game to teach scales.  It’s colorful and fun, and it really teaches the concept of how to construct a scale. I know my directions seem hard to understand, but give it a try, because it’s really very easy.

Whole Half Step Game to Learn How to Make Scales

Whole Half Step Game to Learn How to Make Scales

Whole Half Step Game

Both are these files are free downloads.

You will need to have the latest version of Adobe Reader installed on your computer, which you can download free here. I am not affiliated with Adobe in any way, so I am just posting this link to help you out.

 

10 Comments

Filed under iPad Ideas, Music Printables, Theory

Crotchets, Quavers, and Minims…Oh, My! Worksheets With UK Vocabulary

UK WorksheetsPP-2

[Ed. I will use this post to list all past and future material with British terminology, as well as the material in the graphic above.]

Sometimes I forget that not every English-speaking person uses the same music vocabulary. Thanks to some help from a British teacher, here are some of my rhythm worksheets that I have re-made using crotchets, minims, quavers, and semibreves.  I also changed measure to bar, staff to stave, and the spelling of yogurt. I hope I haven’t made any mistakes because a lot of this was new to me!

When you open a file, you do not have to print each page. Print only what you need. Check out my FAQ if you do not know how to do this.

UK Rhythm Worksheets is a colorful set of 5 beginning level worksheets.

UK Memory Games  is a set of matching games. There are two games in this file, both for beginners. One features rhythm values and the other has basic vocabulary words. Cut them out and place the cards face down. Students (or student and teacher) take turns turning 2 cards up, trying to find a match. You can read more about how to play these games on my website, such as this page.

UK Rhythm Review is a set of 6 levels of rhythm worksheets. This is a good way to find out how much transfer students know or use as a review.

UK Grand Staves is a set of color and black and white grand staves. Two have the notes written in, and two are blank so students can write in the notes.

UK Rhythm Round About Game Cards go with the Rhythm Round About Game. This is a GREAT game to teach rhythm vocabulary. It’s very colorful and uses lots of ink, but beginning students love it.

I included the UK in the name of the files so it would help you distinguish which ones are new. I hope all my friends from around the world who use these terms will find these printables useful.

Now I really wish I had a pot of tea and some scones with clotted cream and jam!

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under Group lesson ideas, Rhythm, Theory