We are thrilled that our first studio Piano Parties were a success! They proved the theme of our 2016 PA Music Teachers Conference to be true: Fun and accomplishment/learning are not opposites! You can experience both at the same time, and we certainly did that at our piano parties.
We thought we’d give you a little look at our first piano parties, so you can see how learning and fun can be combined in a group-class setting!
We began each class with the “Exaggerated Bow Game”, of our own creation, to teach students about the purpose of bowing after a performance (thanking our audience for clapping for us) and get them more comfortable doing a “real” bow that truly thanks the audience (as opposed to slinking off the stage trying to be invisible!) Exaggerating an action makes the “normal” version seem extra-easy. We had fun with the Exaggerated Bows of all our students:
After all the exaggerated group-bowing, each student practiced playing one note, then doing a very nice bow. We noticed they all were much more aware of smiling at their audience and not rushing their bowing!
Our second activity was a rhythm-game called Toccata Blocks. It’s an excellent visual and tactile way to learn about rhythm. Students built “towers” of 4-beat groups, and then listened to rhythmic dictation where they had to build the one-measure’s-worth of rhythm that they hear, with their rhythm tiles.
Then we had a game we made up, called “Snake Steps and Skips”. With big cloth keyboards, students used little toy snakes to stretch across different types of “steps” and “skips” on the keyboard. They also learned to other names for these: Major and minor seconds, and Major and minor 3rds.
Our late-elementary to intermediate students also built Major and minor 5-finger patterns and scales with snakes and glass gems.
In some groups, we had time for an awesome little board game of musical-symbol recognition called “Stu Stegosaurus” – made more fun by using our niece’s toy dinosaurs as the markers!
We can always count on the amazing creativity and humor of our students to bring the games to a whole new level: Toccata blocks became all sorts of creations, including people, cats, pyramids, Jenga towers, a SPY, (with sideways-looking half-notes for eyes,) mazes….
And when our late elementary-intermediate students realized that they could grab their flashcards WITH A STICKY SNAKE, that became a game in itself!
After all the games and activities, we ended each Piano Party with a little social time, and treats including cookies with musical notes on them, and gummy snakes!
And now for a little sneak-peek of games and activities we have lined up for the next couple Piano Parties….
Thank you to all our students for making our piano parties fun! We’d love to hear comments from you if you had a favorite activity, or suggestions for more future games!