Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Piano Teaching Tools

If you are a piano teacher, I hope this post will help you get organized and give you some fun ideas for your lessons.  This is going to be a long post with lots of information, so buckle up!

Have you ever been doing something so long that you are ready to re-vamp?  I have been teaching piano lessons for over 5 years now, and my lessons are always the same.  I decided it was time to add a little spice to my piano life.

The Piano Board
First, I needed to get organized.  I wanted something that the kids could look at each time they came.  Behold!  The piano board:

Let's take a closer look at what is on this beauty.

First, I have the award system so that the students are reminded each week of what they can earn. A little motivation for them.

Next is the game area.  It has the game of the day and the time to beat for certain games.  I used Velcro to stick the marker on the board.  I cut a piece of a thick sandwich bag to cover the "Time to Beat" paper and stuck it over the top with double-sided tape.  Easy and way cheaper than laminating (plus I didn't want to waste laminating papers on such a tiny piece of paper).

This is the Picture Perfect Practicers area.  Whenever a student practices every day of the week (excluding Sunday) they get to check a star.  When they fill in 4 stars they get a big prize.  Once I figure out how to add documents I will give you the link for that.  I put the papers into sheet protectors (again, cheaper than laminating).

Finally, I have my dry-erase calendar to write down the important events and the rhythm of the day page.

I am super excited to try out my new board!

File Folder
This is how I keep everything in order:

I have folders for each student, folders for payment, folders for games, etc.  I keep them all in this file folder.  (If I was smart I would keep them in alphabetical order, but for now the things I use most frequently are in the front.)  I keep the games in envelopes and put those envelopes into their proper folder.

Repetoire Wish List
I frequently ask my students if they have heard any songs they would like to play and of course it's putting them on the spot and they don't remember when they sit down.  So, I found this cute Repetoire Wish List Sheet.

Let's look at it a little closer:

This should solve all of my on-the-spot student problems.  The students take the list home and when they hear something they would like to play they have a place to write it down.

Note Naming Card

I purchased this note naming card from Best in Music for $6.00, but you could easily make one (I was just too lazy).  It is lots easier than flashcards for note review if you ask me.

It was finally time to put together some new games.  I am really excited about what I found.  Most of these come from Pinterest, but I will give you a list of links at the bottom of this post for easy access.

Game #1: Crosswalk

What you need: Musical alphabet cards and a figurine of some sort (we like our little people police officer).

How you play: The object of the game is to get the figurine across the crosswalk (piano) starting at the low end.  You flip over the alphabet cards for the student and they move him to the correct note.  This is a link to the Alphabet Cards that I used.

For added fun, time the students to see how quickly they can get the figurine from the low end of the piano to the high end.  I give my student a minute to race the officer across the piano.  For the more advanced students I do the cards with sharps and flats.  (I particularly like watching them figure out C flat, E sharp, and so on.)  You could even use pictures of the notes on the staff for greater difficulty.

I am going to give the student with the fastest time of the week a prize.

Game #2: Truth or Dare

This game come in 3 levels from beginning to more advanced.  *A hint - If you want to save time and not have to paste card stock to the back of each card like yours truly, print them out on card stock straight from the printer.

What you need: Truth or Dare Cards and a hat.

How to play: The object of the game is to earn prizes/points for correct answers.  Put the truth or dare cards into the hat.  Color code them in some way so you know which cards are the truth cards and which cards are the dare cards.  Ask the student "Truth or Dare?"  Once they have decided they must draw a card from the hat and perform whatever the card tells them to do.  For example: A truth card may ask them to name a certain note on the piano; A dare card may have them play a certain note on the piano.  Give the student prizes for correct responses.

There are also instructions to play the game in a group setting on the Pianimation site.

Game #3: Follow the Leader Rhythm Game

What you need: Rhymth Cards, Music Staves, and pencils.  *Note: I have only made the 3 - quarter time music cards, but there are lots of others on Layton Music.

How to play: Give the student a sheet of paper with music staves on it and a pencil.  Pick out a rhythm card and play the rhythm on the piano.  Have the student try to recreate the rhythm you just played.  (For added difficulty have them try to recreate the melody as well.)  Give prizes for accuracy.

Game #4: Musical Easter Egg Hunt

What you need: Musical Easter Egg Hunt Eggs.

How to play: Hide the Musical Easter Eggs around the room.  Have the student find them.  When found the student must tell you what is on the egg.  Give prizes for correct answers.

I hope that something in this post can help you.  Happy teaching!

Layton Music Games and Resources - This site is fabulous!  There are so many fun things to do.
Pianimation - Full of great resources.
The Teaching Studio - So many fun printables!

Other things you might like:
Kid Art Display & Fridge Organization
10 Habits to a Well-Run Home Challenge


  1. Wow Kristen, these are some great ideas! Thanks. I needed some new ideas and games to get this school year going!

    1. I'm so glad I could help. Have a great year teaching and let me know how the games work out for you!