Beat Your Score/Build Your Dream (How to Drill Anything)

We practiced notes on the staff this week with this method, but you can use it to drill anything you have a set of flashcards for.

What You Need

  • Set of flashcards
  • Timer
  • Blocks or Legos or any other building toy (optional)

Setup

  • None

How to Play

  • Set the timer. I chose a 30 second time limit.
  • While the timer is running, flip the cards for the student one at a time. When the timer goes off, count the number of cards answered correctly.
  • If you are using the blocks, they’ve earned that number of blocks to begin building whatever they want.
    • Some of my students are old enough to feel that blocks are beneath them. That’s fine.
    • I only give them a short time to build, so I discourage risky building strategies. If it falls, we go on anyway. They’ll have another opportunity later.
  • Set the timer again. The point on the second round is to see if you can beat your first score. Whether they do or not, they can add that many blocks to their structure.
  • Repeat as many times as you want.

Variations

  • To make it easier, limit the flashcards. For example, use only C position notes or only bass clef notes.
  • To make it harder, add more flashcards into the stack. If you’re drilling notes, require them to both name the note and play it on the piano.
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Beat Your Score/Build Your Dream (How to Drill Anything)

 

Lucky Penny Game (Note Review)

Every St Patrick’s Day, I play the Lucky Penny game with my students. This is not my original idea, and you can find the original brief instructions at Sing a New Song.  It is a very simple game to review notes on the staff. I particularly like it because it isn’t just a drill of finding the note name. They also have to connect it through to the correct note on the piano. I always have some students who are great at naming the note, but still have no clue which octave they ought to be playing it in. This game helps.

What You Need:

  • Flashcards with the notes you want to review
  • As many pennies as you have flashcards. One (or more) should be marked on one side in some way as the lucky one.
    • I use Euro pennies. My American students are always delighted by how small they are and the fact that they really are Irish pennies. Of course, if you don’t have a source for Euro pennies, any other small coin works just fine.
    • My lucky penny has a sticker of a four leaf clover.

How to Play:

  • Since I am not the originator of the game, I will just direct you to Sing a New Song to get the instructions on how to play.
  • My modifications are as follows:
    • I only have one lucky penny, not 2-5. If they have to go through two full octaves to find the penny, I don’t consider that a bad thing. It’s just more practice.
    • I don’t give out candy, since I try to keep that at an absolute minimum. If they aren’t expecting candy, students are still interested in seeing how lucky they are (i.e., how quickly they find the lucky penny).

Variations:

  • To make it easier or shorter, limit the number of notes you ask.
  • To make it harder, don’t have them remove the penny on the note on the staff. Instead pick an interval and require them to remove the penny a third above or a fourth below the note on the staff. You can then ask them to name whether that interval is major, minor, diminished, etc.

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Giant Staff—Twister (Music Twist)

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or bass clef
    • It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
  • Cards with the musical alphabet on them, such as these
  • Hand and foot cards

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff and place the clef.

How to Play:

  • The teacher draws a hand/foot card and a letter card and calls them out. The student has to place that body part on that note.
  • If they are still more or less upright when the time runs out or the cards run out, they win.
  • If they fall down, just start from scratch.
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Giant Staff—Twister

Giant Staff—Hopscotch

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or bass clef
    • It doesn’t matter if your clef doesn’t match your staff in size. Mind doesn’t.
  • Some kind of marker, such as a bean bag, bottle cap, whatever

Setup:

  • Lay out your giant staff

How to Play:

  • Stand beneath the staff and toss your marker onto the staff.
  • If the marker lands on a space, you’ll be hopping spaces. On one foot, hop to the first space and name the note you’re on. Then hop to the next space and name it. Skip the note with your marker. When you reach the top, turn around (still on one foot) and hop back.
  • If the marker lands on a line, do the same process with the lines.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, don’t do all the hopping. Just jump to the note your marker is on and name it.
  • To make it harder, change the interval. Jump up in fourths or fifths. You may or may not want to even use the marker in this case.

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Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss

For this activity, you need a giant staff. I made mine by using a Sharpie marker to draw five evenly spaced lines on a piece of heavy white fabric. The fabric was leftover from a friend’s IKEA curtains adventure, so the whole thing was free. Alternatively, you could check out the curtains/tablecloth section in Goodwill. No need to spend a lot of money on a nice, new piece of fabric.

What You Need:

  • A giant staff
  • A treble or a bass clef
    • It doesn’t have to match the size of the staff. Mine doesn’t.
  • Bean bag

Setup:

  • Lay out the staff on the floor and place your clef.

How to Play:

  • Stand together beneath your giant staff.
  • Mutually decide on your teacher handicap. For my beginners, I give a five second handicap. More advanced students get only one or two seconds.
  • The first player tosses the bean bag onto the staff. The student should call out the name of the note it lands on. The teacher silently counts out the handicap seconds and then calls out the name of the note it lands on.
    • Note: Because the spaces are so much wider than the lines, I tell them that if even a tiny corner is touching the line, they should call the line note, not the space note.
  • Whoever called the correct note first gets a point.
  • Take turns tossing until someone has 10 points. Adjust the handicap as needed to make sure the student wins.

Variations:

  • To make it easier, limit the number of notes you have to call to the ones the student has learned. If the bean bag lands on a note outside that range, have them say “Haven’t learned it!”
  • To make it harder, shorten the teacher handicap.
  • To make it even harder, use the game to practice intervals. Instead of naming the note it lands on, they should name the note a third above the note it lands on (or a fourth, fifth, whatever).
  • If the student is consistently throwing the bean bag way beyond the staff or aiming so that it always lands in the same place, take over all the throwing duties yourself. They shape up quickly under that threat.
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Giant Staff—Bean Bag Toss