Using Piano in the K-12 School Classroom
The piano is a great teaching tool for the k-12 school classroom. The approach can be a little more advanced than a curriculum built for younger kids such as preschoolers.
Beginning with first grade, about the age of six, kid's brains become much more functional. Gradually, doing different things with each hand becomes easier, a feat that leaves many preschoolers bewildered.
Older Means Wiser
The older a child, the more complication they can handle. You cannot push this development, and each child is completely different. This is why it is so dangerous to expect a single method to succeed with many children.
The truth is that every child needs a piano curriculum designed specifically for them, to delight and inspire them to move forward, at their own pace.
A Classroom Meeting Place
You would be surprised how quickly kids gather around the piano, especially if they think there will be easy-to-understand fun. If you make the piano an intimidating place, you cannot drag a kid there.
Once I have the kids gathered around the piano, I initiate a silly game like, "EVERYONE COME, ONE AT A TIME, AND PLAY MIDDLE C."
I have Middle C marked with a giant red sticker, so it is fairly obvious. Some kids will comply and play only one key, while others will smash out handfuls of random notes. Laugh at all if it, as long as each kid gets to take their turn and feels happy.
Get More Specific
Next, have them line up for a more complex task. I have usually numbered the keys as in the drawing below:
I ask for a more complex combination: 1, 2, 3. They can use either hand, any finger. Once again, laugh at the results. Some kids will understand, and others will not be able to sort it out. It only matters that they try to complete the task.
Variations: You can make the game as complex as you want.
- Play two white keys right next to each other
- Play two white keys, skipping one in between
- Play 1,2,3 ,4, 5
Try It On Our Online Piano
Make the games real and challenging:
| 1 3 | 2 4 | 3 5 | 4 6 | 5 7 |
| 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 |
| 1 1 5 5 | 1 1 5 5 |
Once again, any finger, either hand. Don't demand such specificity at this time. It's just a game to make the kids think the piano is a safe, fun place to be.
You can use the piano passively, too. Have the kids sit and then you play chords and ask them what quality they hear. Happy? Sad? Angry? This forces them to listen critically. (GAMES FOR THE PIANO contains all the basic chords in an appendix.)
Keep the mood light and non-educational. It's a game. From the child's point of view, they get to interact with that great big piano, so make sure the experience is positive.
The whole idea of the kids forming a line and excitedly awaiting their turn at the piano supports the feeling that piano is a fun thing to do.