Toys And Accessories For A Fun Piano Lesson
Lesson 7: Toys And Accessories For A Fun Piano Lesson
There are a few toys and accessories that you can bring to piano lessons which will delight the kids and help them learn. A delighted kid is easy to teach.
One of my favorite accessories is a library bell. Some schoolteachers use them to quiet the class, but here we let the child have control and access. At first I won’t let them ring the bell, and they become intrigued with it. I ring the bell at important points, like when they have played something correctly. They love the idea of being rewarded with a ringing bell. They love it even more when they get to ring the bell.
Sometimes we use the bell as the MISTAKE BELL, which is a fun thing for kids because the mistakes are accompanied by a sound that delights them. I assume the guise of a stern taskmaster who counts every single mistake with the bell. It doesn’t last long, and, actually, no good piano game lasts very long.
We play a game where I play a glissando, up or down, and the child has to not only play the top (or bottom) note of the piano, but then ring the bell. Sometimes we race and see who gets to the bell first. Playing the piano is nothing but events, strung one after the other. When I play a glissando up the piano, their job is to play that high note EXACTLY at the moment I finish the glissando.
I am mock-strict and do it over and over until they play the top note of the piano at exactly the right point, and they will try enthusiastically to get that note exactly where it should be. This delights children. Why? Because this is really their first exercise in rhythm, where they not only have to perform a task but must perform it at one exact time. Add the bell and that’s two tasks.
Breaking things down to this minute level is essential if you are to get children’s attention and loyalty. Baby steps were never more appropriate. Once a child knows that you will not exceed their “comfort zone” in terms of the speed of the lesson, they will give you their full attention and efforts. It really is like magic. There is no child, no mood you cannot conquer with this approach.
Once again, you are not a comedian but may instantly adopt that ruse to make a point. Theatricalism works very well with kids to grab their attention. Speaking like a television announcer will simply fascinate them, and any command you give in that tone and vein will be complied with as if they had been asked to play a fun game with their friends.
Piano games are what you do in between bite-sized, easily digestible bits of pedagogy (reading music). The units of both fun and work are short, to fit their attention span and to allow variety and control of the pace of the lesson. Never lose the child’s point of view, but have your own agenda for what might be accomplished. What can be accomplished should be based on the weaknesses discovered during playing. These weaknesses must be corrected before you can move forward to the next musical concept.
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COURSE ONE: TEACHING TOOLS
COURSE TWO: TEACHING BACKGROUND
COURSE THREE: PIANO GAMES