Follow The Leader: Visual Piano Games
Lesson 26: Follow The Leader: Visual Piano Games
Some piano games are aimed at getting the child to pay attention to the keyboard as a physical entity: a group of colored buttons, if you will, within which the child must see patterns. Paying attention to anything is often a challenge for most kids, unless it is made into fun.
The key is to make the moments when they are looking at the keyboard into memorable moments, largely because they have been presented as fun. Here are some ideas
Twos And Threes
This visual game allows for a child to become aware of the repeating pattern of two and three black keys. You would be surprised at the number of kids who are unaware of the black keys, and who do not use them to find their way at the piano, even after years of successful study.
- Every once in a while, start pointing to the black key groups and ask, “Two or three?”
- Make a time limit for each answer, imitating the ticking clock, and the game show.
- If they don’t answer quickly, laugh, make a losing buzzer sound, call out the answer and move on. This speed will train them to use their eyes quickly, a skill they will need every second at the piano.
White Key To The Left
- An extension of the above game is to point to a group of two or three black keys and say, “White key to the left” or “White key to the right.” This extends their ability to make judgments with their eye, and then execute a task with their finger.
Play Every C and F
- Go up the piano, pointing to the two black keys. Say, “Play a C.” They must find the first white key to the left of the group of two black keys. Do the same with F, the first white key to the left of any group of three black keys.
Follow The Leader
- Play any group of three keys. In the style of Simple Simon, the child must imitate what you do. So if you play 3 2 1, the child does so right after you. Go very quickly from one to the next, barely pausing to get their answer and correct if they are wrong.
- Play 1 1 5 5 and ask what song it is (Twinkle, Twinkle.) You are actually getting the child to OBSERVE the keyboard, outside of the realm of reading music and even playing music.
- Play any simple group of keys. Say, 3 2 1. Then ask them to play it backwards, 1 2 3. This requires abstract positioning skills that younger children may have but in an unformed mode. Avoid anything that they cannot readily grasp, according to age group.
All of these visual piano games are useful in building mental skills that are used every moment of playing the piano. They are more memorable than dry music reading exercises, not only because they have been made into games, but because the games are explored outside of music, on a level playing field of gaming skills where the child understands all the simplified elements (up/down, left/right, etc.)
Look at the motions necessary to play the piano. Isolate them and make visual games from them. Children at least are then given a preview of what will be expected.
COURSE ONE: TEACHING TOOLS
COURSE TWO: TEACHING BACKGROUND
COURSE THREE: PIANO GAMES