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

Pot of Gold Music Game

Pot of GoldPot of Gold

I’ve been testing out my new elementary level St. Patrick’s Day game, Pot of Gold, and it is fast and fun! It is a board game, where students answer a music question, roll a die,  and move their pawn.

This is a big file so it might take some time to download.  There are 8 pages, including 6 pages of elementary level cards: keyboards, notes, vocabulary, intervals, and key signatures. If you like to print a colorful back to your game cards so they look more professional, I included that, too. Scroll through all the pages included in this file and only print what you want. If you don’t know how to print the back to the cards, check out the FAQ at the top of my blog.

However, there is a little secret to this game. It is very much like my Thanksgiving game, Chasing the Turkey.  So if you have already printed the cards to that game and you are in a hurry or want to save ink, you can use the Chasing the Turkey cards.  I made this set of cards because I like to keep the game boards and cards together so I can find them quickly.

I printed the game board on card stock and laminated it, but I did not laminate the cards. I separate the cards by level before we play. I store board games in folders with pockets that I buy on sale at the beginning of the school year. On the inside of the folder, I glue the rules of the game because I forget the rules!

One of my older students was watching his brother as we played. “Hey, you’re giving him the answers,” he said. Then he quickly said, “But I guess if you don’t, he won’t learn anything.”

“You’re exactly right,” I said. The purpose of this game is to learn, and if he doesn’t know the answer, I help him out so he will!”

Objective

  • To review previously learned musical symbols, intervals, key signatures, the notes of middle C position, and some music vocabulary words.
  • To enjoy a seasonal game.

Ages

  • Grades 1-4, using the appropriate cards for the concepts students have learned.

Materials

  • Game board.
  • Cards printed with various musical symbols and terms.
  • One die.
  • On pawn for each player.

Directions

  • The game can be played with two or more players.
  • Print the game board and cut out the cards. 
  • Each player puts his token on the game board. The first player draws a card and answers the question. If he doesn’t know the answer, give him hints until he gets it correct.
  • Then he rolls the die and moves the number of spaces on the die. If he lands on a circle with instructions, he follows the instructions, such as taking a short cut, or moving back to Start.
  • The game continues in the same way with the other players.
  • When playing with a pre-school child, let him win most of the games so he will want to play again.
  • The first player to reach the Pot of Gold  is the winner.

13 Comments

Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, St. Patrick's Day, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

Music Valentine’s Day Card

ValentineCard

Valentines Card

I have a Valentine card treat for you today that you can give to your students next week!

This card will be the size of a half a sheet of computer paper when you print it and fold it in the middle. It is made to be printed on both sides of your paper. You will need to either use card stock or thicker paper so the print will not bleed through. Don’t even bother to print on 20# paper on both sides, unless you are just making a test print. 

Also, it is in landscape orientation, which makes it harder to figure out how to print both sides. If you don’t know how to do that, practice with some scratch paper and write down how you did it, so you will not forget the next time you try it. Every printer I have used over the years is different.

Now I have a duplex printer and that really saves time and paper.  I just have to remember to check “bind short side” when the document is in landscape orientation.

I have some envelopes that are the right size for this card, so I will use those. If you don’t want to buy envelopes, you can give it to students without one.  You could even tie the cards  with some red or pink curly ribbon. 

The Sudoku game is the back of the card. [Edited: I accidentally left off "dotted half note" in the Sudoku game instructions. I have reposted the corrected file. If you have already printed it, please tell your students.]  I  made it very easy so even beginning students can do it. The note story on the inside might be hard for beginners, but suggest they use a cheat sheet if they need to. Of course, some students won’t do this, but it is the thought that counts!

I told my students I am going to put the results of our Line and Space Challenge (see my last post) inside the card. I am also going to include a little fun size bag of candy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

22 Comments

Filed under Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Music Printables

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

Saturday Solos Giveaway!

Saturday Solos413x319I am excited to announce that my talented fellow blogger and knowledgeable tech guru, Jennifer Fox, has written the very first review of one of my piano books, Saturday Solos! In celebration of this exciting event (for me!) she is having a giveaway of a digital copy of Saturday Solos! Plus, it is on sale right now.

So hurry over to Jennifer’s blog, read all about the book,  and enter the contest. The link is  http://fpsresources.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/saturday-solos-review-and-giveaway/

This digital copy comes with an unlimited license, so you can use it forever to print either the entire book, or print out certain pieces for students and put it in their binder. If you want to save ink, don’t print the cover or the index. The cover is cute, but it takes some ink!

Sometimes I print the entire thing at home and take it into Office Depot or Staples and ask them to spiral bind it for me. I print the cover on card stock and then include another piece of card stock for the back cover. I keep on the look out for sales on color copies and/or binding because I can really save that way. Also, if you are a member of MTNA, there is a big discount on binding and color printing at Office Depot. Regardless of how I print it, the costs involved with the book are deducted from students’ book fund. 

The music in Saturday Solos falls between Primer and Level 1. It is a good book for the student who has finished Primer but is having trouble with reading steps and skips. It is appropriate for elementary children up to about 4th grade, although I had a 5th grade student who loved it!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized