Tag Archives: learning note names

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

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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.

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Filed under Games, Group lesson ideas, Note Identification

Snowflake Bingo Game and Borderless Printing

SnowflakeBingo

Snowflake Bingo Game

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and you are ready to teach again. In my studio, we will be playing some fun theory games!

Today I am posting a winter season bingo game. If you have already printed out my previous Christmas bingo game, you probably don’t want to print this one. The art is different, but the bingo game is the same. This game can still be played in January, and it uses less ink. I am gradually remaking many of my printables to use less ink, which should make teachers happy!

Speaking of printing, if you have a color printer that will print “borderless”, that is, printing with no margins, this is a good printable for that because I made it with no margins. However, most of my other printables have a 1/2 inch border, and you cannot use them with borderless printing. Only use the borderless setting on PDF’s that are made without a border around the edges.

Some printers will not let you select borderless unless you also select the “photo paper” setting in your printer dialog box. Go ahead and choose the photo paper setting even if you use card stock. Also, most printers do not print borderless if they are also printing duplex (printing both sides), so remember that for other projects.  

Material

  • Bingo Cards
  • One or more pages of calling cards, printed and cut out.
  • Bingo chips
  • Container to hold calling cards

 Directions

  • Players take turns drawing cards and covering the correct note, closing their eyes as they draw.
  • Return the calling card to the container after each turn.
  • If a wild card is drawn, it can be placed on any note.
  • The first player to cover all the notes on the board is the winner.
  • Alternately, with a group, the teacher can draw and call the notes.

Objective

  • To review notes on the grand staff.
  • To improve speed in identifying notes.

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Filed under Christmas, Group lesson ideas

Halloween Note Board Game: Bats and Cats

Bats And Cats Notes

Bats and Cats Note Game

Wow, this graphic really is over the top! I illustrated it this way so I could show the “Card of Doom” in Pinterest. We’ve been playing the game in my studio, and my students love the Card of Doom, especially since the teacher is usually the one who draws it! Honestly, it’s good that I love for my students to win because somehow they usually do!

We have really enjoyed this game. Even beginning students who have not learned to read notes can play by using a staff chart such as Halloween Notes on a Staff.  If your students are getting ready for a theory exam,  this is a great review for that, too.

Included in this set are 3 pages of notes on staves, one page of fun instruction cards to mix up with the note cards, a game board, and an optional colorful back for your cards, which make them look more professional. Be sure to set your printer to landscape orientation.  Yes, this uses a lot of ink, but you only have to print it once. If you want it too look really good, use photo paper and laminate it.  [If you don't know how to omit the optional back to the cards, check out my FAQ.]

Directions

This game can be played with students or teacher and student. The players take turns drawing cards and moving to the correct alphabet name. Mix up the staff cards with the instruction cards.  The game is over when a player draws any note card after the last D. It is such a quick game you can play more than once.

Objectives

  • To reinforce or learn note names on the staff
  • To learn the word “octave”
  • To play a fast Halloween board game

Ages

  • Kindergarten to grade 4 or 5

I know some of you would like keyboard cards so you can play this with beginners. Email me and I’ll send a PDF copy to you. But give me a few days, because I don’t have them made yet. I didn’t think to add them to this set because I only have one beginner, and he knows the keys now.  So we used the Halloween Notes on a Staff sheet, which he filled out himself, and I was surprised to see him learn a few note names as he played.

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Filed under Games, Halloween, Note Identification, Texas State Theory Test