So much of music comes down to drill, and I’ve never yet had a student who didn’t enjoy this method of doing it.
What You Need:
- A set of plastic cups (any number you want).
- With a permanent marker, write a challenge on each one. For example, you could say Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Trouble Spot, Improv, Play by Ear, Review Song, Curved Fingers, Name that Note, Rhythm Flashcard, etc. It’s good if the majority of them are drill that need to be done, with just a sprinkling of more fun ones like improv or review song. My set has duplicates of the four section numbers so we can get to those sections more than once.
- Determine which part of the student’s current piece should be Section 1, which part should be Section 2.
How to Play:
- The student builds a cup tower. Whichever cup makes the tower fall is the next challenge. The student then has to do whatever is written on the cup, whether it’s play that section of the piece, clap a rhythm, name the notes on a predetermined number of flashcards, play a section with perfectly curved fingers, etc. Depending on the length of your sections, you may want to say they have to play it three times or just once, or that they have to play it until you are satisfied with the quality.
- Then build another cup tower and accept the next challenge.
While students of all ages enjoy this, the danger is that the older ones with better fine motor skills will spend a long time making a very good cup tower that doesn’t fall, and not get to the actual music. Here are some additional rules to make it harder. I usually start out without any of these rules, until I see how good they are at the cup tower and whether I need to do this.
- No more than three (or even two) cups can touch the ground.
- The teacher is allowed to randomly be a hurricane and attempt to blow things down.
- The student must jump on the ground next to the tower after every third cup to see if an earthquake can dislodge it.