Gently Falling Snow Improv

Generally, we play with the melody in the treble clef and leave the accompaniment to the bass clef. This improv is a good one to show that it doesn’t have to be like that.

Gently Falling Snow Improv

How to Use:

  • Demonstrate the pattern.
  • Teach it by rote. Advanced students should do it with just the right hand, but even beginners can learn it using two hands. Repeat until the student is confident.
  • Have the student play the pattern while you make up a melody below it using the notes of the C major scale.
  • Switch parts.


  • Change the key signature. The pattern is essentially just a scale, so students who have learned scales should be able to figure it out. Try it in minor for a very different effect.
  • Change the articulation. If you play it staccato, does it still remind you of gently falling snow? Or is it more like hail?
  • Change the octave. Which octave sounds the best?
  • Instead of making up the melody, try it with a lead sheet.

The Treat Game (How to Drill Anything)

Treat Game (How to Drill Anything)

I don’t generally hand out candy at lessons. But for the occasional holiday I will make an exception. This year it was Valentine’s Day, since the kids around here no longer get any candy at school. But there is no reason why this has to be a Valentine’s Day game.

What You Need:

  • Flashcards for whatever you want to drill
    • I did it with cards with the note names on them. Depending on the student’s level, they either had to find the note on the keyboard or on the staff or play a major chord based on that note or play a major scale based on that note.
  • A handful of extra flashcards that say “Be careful! Answer the next one right to earn a treat!”
    • It is important that these cards feel the same as the original flashcards: same size, same paper weight, etc.
    • If you are using pre-made, laminated flashcards, you could even use a whiteboard marker to write it on a few of the cards.
  • An opaque bag or box to hold your flashcards.
  • A bowl of small treats.


  • Shuffle your flashcards (all of them) and place them in the bag or bowl.

How to Play:

  • The student draws a card.
  • If it’s a regular card, they answer the question. If it’s a treat card, keep it in hand, but draw another card and answer that one. If they get it wrong, toss the treat card back in the bag. If they get it right, set the treat card to the side.
  • When all the cards in the box are gone (or you run out of time), count up the number of treat cards you have on the side. Choose that many small treats out of the bowl.


Race Across the Keyboard

Depending on the level of the student, you can use this quick game to drill notes on the keyboard, notes on the staff, or intervals.

What You Need:

  • Two Game Pieces
  • Flashcards with the note names (if you are drilling notes on the keyboard)
  • Flashcards with notes on the staff (if you are drilling notes on the staff)
  • A book of sheet music (if you are drilling intervals)
  • A die (if you are drilling intervals)


  • None

How to Play:

  • Place your two game pieces on the lowest key on the keyboard.
  • If you are drilling notes on the keyboard:
    • Take turns drawing the note name flashcards. Each time, move your game piece up to the next instance of the note on your card.
  • If you are drilling notes on the staff:
    • Take turns drawing the notes on the staff flashcards. Each time, name the note on your card and move up to the next instance of that note name on the keyboard.
  • If you drilling intervals:
    • Find a piece of sheet music, preferably one that uses lots of different intervals.
    • Take turns rolling the die. Count that many measures into the music.
    • Find the largest interval in that measure. Move your game piece up by the same interval.
  • First one to the top of the keyboard wins.


January 2019 Plans

Due to illness, we had only three lessons this month:

Week 1: We drilled notes with the giant staff, where students could choose between Twister, Hopscotch, and Bean Bag Toss. I modified the games for more advanced students.

Week 2: We drew snowmen, monsters, and faces while accomplishing lots of different music challenges.

Week 3: We practiced rhythms with Compose Your Own Rhythm Duets, except this time I used flashcards instead of having the kids create their own rhythms.

Roll-A-Drawing (How to Drill Anything)

Here’s a simple way to make things more fun during the lesson. I’ve provided a link to the three printables, I used, but the Internet is full of such drawing dice games, and you could use any of them.

What You Need:

  • Blank paper
  • Pencils
  • Die
  • A printable guide for a dice drawing game, such as Roll-a-Snowman or Roll-a-Face or Roll-a-Monster.
  • A list of what musical challenges go with each number on the die. You can put anything you want to drill here. For example, my list said:
    • 1 = Note name challenge
    • 2 = Rhythm challenge
    • 3 = Improv duet
    • 4 = Sight reading challenge
    • 5 = Review song
    • 6 = Freebie


  • None

How to Play:

  • The student rolls the die. They must complete the challenge for that number first. Afterwards, they can draw the corresponding snowman, face, monster, or whatever.
  • The teach plays too, so you can see more than one result of the drawing game, but the teacher doesn’t need to complete challenges. (It takes too long that way.)