do you have a student who loves to color?
Each keyboard on the Color a Key Practice Chart represents one week of potential practice.
Have your students color a white piano key every day they practice. It's a colorful way to track their hard work!
I've also included another chart with longer keyboards.
Click here for instant access!
Other Posts you might be interested in
Last year I started doing something different during lessons and it's been so successful that I wanted to share it with you.
I'm the type of teacher who likes to change things up and keep it fun for students. Using games and apps at the END of a lesson is one way I do that.
But then I got a idea - What would happen if I reversed that process and began using games at the START of the lesson.
Would it be a good warm-up for my students?
Or would they get "too silly" and lose their focus once they sat down at the piano?
As it turns out, starting with games as been a brilliant move and I wish I'd done it years ago!
1. Games are a great review.
When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. By starting with game-time, you're giving students the chance to review notes BEFORE diving into music. This is true for both physical games and apps.
Even something as simple as playing around with Iwako Erasers is a great way to review keyboard geography.
AND best of all - students are reviewing notes at a face pace, so you're really getting their brain warmed up for music!
2. Games are a great way to introduce new concepts.
Have a student who hasn't learned fractions yet? Rhythm Pizza to the rescue!
Need to introduce new note values to a student? Kitty Rhythms will help!
Of course, all students are different, but many will process concepts quicker if they see new notations BEFORE they're presented in their music book. Games are a perfect way to accomplish this.
3. Games are fun!
We both know that the best students are those who are excited about piano lessons.
If you start lessons with a game, kids will be thrilled to dash into your studio. Can't you just hear them thinking: I wonder what game we'll play today?
And of course, students that are engaged during lesson time and will definitely practice more at home. That's a win for everyone!
But What Will Parents Think?
I'll let you in on a little secret: For years, I felt guilty about starting the lesson with an app.
I felt like the music should come first and didn't want parents to be upset with me for "playing games" first instead of teaching music.
I've come to realize that if something works - you go with it!
The best part about this change is that I'm not the only one who sees students doing better--they see it too.
Then your entire studio benefits!
Do you start lessons with a game or save a few minutes at the end? I'd love to know what works for you!
Other posts you might enjoy...
10 Ways to Reset When You Don't Feel Like Teaching
4 Ways to Improve Your Studio When You Don't Know Where to Start
Easy Ways to Add Group Lessons
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Get your "Every-BUGGY loves music" PDF here!
Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Are you ready to have some fun in your studio?
This book taught me how important it is to surprise students and this post is full of ways to do just that.
To start, the picture above is simple printable that I created to give my students. Just cut the cards, tape on a candy heart or a Hershey's kiss, and you're good to go! Get it here!
More Craft Ideas
I'll be honest - I only know of a couple piano Valentine crafts. Two are from Joy Morin at Color in My Piano.
One is a piano cut-out that you can put on a box of smarties.
The other is a piano heart that I've used for several years. Here's one of my photos from a couple years ago. Kids really did like it!
Valentine's Day Games
Kids learn best when they're having fun and games are a great way to do that. Grab some heart erasers and you can make these games even more appropriate for the holiday!
Puppy Love by Teach Piano Today. This is a cute, free game that focuses on note recognition on the staff.
Music Cookie Memory Game by Sara Campbell. There are 3 different levels to cover all your students!
Valentine Music Word Game by Wendy Stevens at Compose Create. There are several other games on this page too.
Steal-A-Heart Game by Susan Paradis. If Susan created it, you know it's awesome.
Musical Hearts by Sheryl Welles. This is a simple idea that you can customize to work for you. It works for private lessons or groups.
Valentine Card Hunt by Susan Paradis. Hide the cards around your room and let your students go on a treasure hunt!
Valentine's Day Music
If I Give You My Heart by Music for Music Teachers.
Easy Valentine Songs by Susan Paradis. There are several to choose from.
Valentine S'mores Composing by Melody Payne. Valentine's Day AND S'mores? Who wouldn't like that?!
Valentine Composing Activity for Beginners by Susan Paradis. My students love these worksheets!
Valentine by Jim Brickman and Martina McBride - arranged by Jacki Alexander. This is lovely!
Valentine's Day Worksheets
Valentine's Day Theory Worksheets by The Fun Piano Studio. There are several to choose from, including the dinosaur printable pictured above.
Valentine's Day Puzzle by Sara Campbell. It's a fast way to review some basics!
Valentine Note Scramble by Discoveries Piano Studio. This is cute for your youngest students.
Valentine's Day Books
These have nothing to do with piano - but they are great nonetheless! If you're a Piano Mom - put them on your children's wish list!
Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink by Diane De Groat. This always made my son laugh!
Froggy's First Kiss by Jonathan London. We love ALL the Froggy books!
The Night Before Valentine's Day by Natasha Wing. Another favorite around here!
God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren. There's a whole series of these great books!
Curious about online lessons? We'd love to help!
SO many teachers have asked questions about teaching online lessons! Upbeat Piano Teachers has the help you need.
Online Lesson Academy will teach you:
And if the thought of online lessons makes you nervous, we've got you covered. I felt the same way at first! But you know what? I got brave. I tossed aside my fears and decided to conquer online lessons.
You can do it too! Click here to learn more.
(Note: Online Lesson Academy is only offered a couple times each year and spaces are limited. Upbeat Piano Teachers believes in quality coaching and limits the size of groups to ensure a successful learning environment.)
(Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)
I first started hearing about "Handy Houses: Memorize the Piano Keys in 5 Minutes" on FaceBook last year, but I hesitated to get it.
It seemed to me that the story would encourage students to "count up" to find certain keys on the piano - and I don't teach keyboard geography that way. I'm pretty adamant about teaching the white keys by looking at the black keys.
Nonetheless, last semester, I had a couple of preschoolers who were really struggling with keyboard geography and since I'm passionate about reading, I thought I'd give this book a shot.
Turns out that I like Handy Houses quite a bit.
How it Works:
Handy Houses is a cute story about 2 houses: a dog house and a people house. The story teaches students what goes on around each house.
Every "character" matches up to a key on the piano. Students learn about the car, then they meet Duke and Ellie. The story continues up to the B key.
The author, Samantha K. Perkins, even includes a keyboard where students can draw the story as a keepsake. You can copy the keyboard in the book or she gives you a link to a printable version.
I think this is really brilliant because it helps students recite the story in their own words, thus making it more memorable.
My Biggest Tip:
Once my students learn the story, we review the "characters" in a DIFFERENT ORDER from how the book teaches the story.
In the picture below, you can see what I'm doing with this student.
See how she's coloring the G and A keys before the F and B? We talk about who lives inside the house before we review what's outside the house.
I think that really helps to avoid "counting up" to find the correct key.
Whenever we review the story - which is weekly in the beginning - I'll quickly run through the story from start to finish to make sure my student remembers everything.
Then I ask questions based on the HOUSES:
Where's the dog house?
Who lives inside the dog house?
Where is the car?
Where is Ellie?
Where is the people house?
Who lives inside the people house?
What is outside the people house?
This completely solves my "fear" of learning the keys by counting up!
The Final Verdict:
Overall, I think Handy Houses delivers on the promise to teach kids the piano keys in about 5 minutes. I definitely plan to use it routinely with my youngest students.
If you haven't tried it, I definitely think it's worth testing out. You can get it on Amazon for 9.99.
101 Piano Practice Tips
How the book "The Dynamic Studio" changed me
Six Reasons To Play Games During Lessons
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)
My 16-year-old son, Matthew, is a self-proclaimed comic book nerd.
He's all about Captain America, Iron Man, Marvel, and Stan Lee. (In case you don't know, Stan Lee is the creator of Spiderman and we actually got to MEET him in person at Comic Con a couple years ago!)
But I digress.....
Because our entire family has become a little comic book crazy, I decided to create a music game with a "superhero" theme: Super Monkey Music Race!
And - because we need more superheroes in this world - I'm making this game FREE!
I've written before how important I think it is for teachers to make time for games. Philip Johnston talks about it in The Dynamic Studio and I've seen firsthand how it thrills my students!
If you're one of those teachers who think they's no time for games, you'll LOVE Super Monkey Music Race because it's just that - super quick!
There's no gameboard for Super Monkey Music Race. Instead, students play it right at the piano!
Players race from the low end of the piano to the high end of the piano. The winner is whoever gets to the highest treble key first! (Sometimes I use my iwako erasers as the game pieces and sometimes I'll just use candy kisses.)
I've included cards for every level. There are letter and keyboard cards for pre-readers. Older students will have to figure out full words on the staff.
It's definitely a quick game - and you might actually have to race up AND down the keyboard if you need to make it last a little longer!
Get your download below. I hope you enjoy and I'd love to hear your feedback!
Make lessons more fun!
This game is a fun way to review note identification AND keyboard geography at the same time!
Includes playing cards for students at ALL levels!
Success! Now check your email to download your game!
A piano teacher recently asked - How do you find time for games? Do you save them for group classes? I can't imagine trying to fit it into a 30 minute private lesson!
For years I resisted playing games during piano lessons for the very same reason. I had an "all business" attitude and simply wanted to get right to work.
After all, parents hired me to teach their children to play the piano, so I had to be at the piano, right?
I was wrong. Games are a fabulous way to learn serious music concepts!
Here are 6 reasons you should try playing games during lessons:
1. Games take very little time.
We're talking 2-4 minutes - literally! I set my timer to keep us on track and sometimes we're able to play games twice.
2. Games can be a great break.
If you're working on tougher songs, students will love a 5 minute game. (And of course, it's a music game, so they're STILL learning!)
3. Games can be a good reward.
Encourage your students to work hard so they can play a game during the last 3 minutes of their lesson.
4. Games produce happy students.
Happy students practice more. The end.
5. Games aren't just for young students.
I have a couple teenage boys who LOVED playing Susan's Paradis's Bats and Cats. Not only was it a great way to review notes, but the Card of Doom produced SO many laughs!
6. Games are a fun way to learn!
If your student is struggling with a particular concept, get away from the piano and try a game. It can be a great way to learn.
7. Bonus reason - Games are a great way to find problems!
Recently during a game, I discovered that one of my students is confusing A and G on the keyboard. I had no idea - but now (thanks to a game) we can tackle the problem!
Judy Naillon said it best in Technology Boot Camp:
Are you looking for a Chritmas game that focuses on the reason for the season?
Check out The Shepherd's Adventure and the Wise Men Flashcards. Both are fun and can be played in less than 5 minutes!
And remember - you don't have to play games every week - keep them guessing!
Like Phillip Johnston says in The Dynamic Studio:
"If students are being delighted, challenged and surprised, then they'll find the lessons delightful, challenging and surprising. These are students with reasons to stay."
Do you play games during lessons? What are your favorites? I'd love to hear!
(Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.)
Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.