I have some elementary students who haven’t learned 16th notes yet, so I didn’t want to use the Rhythm Circle I posted below. Now I can use this Rhythm Circle for 8th Notes.
Some students need to experience a new concept in different ways, and this is just one more way to explain note values. As I posted on my web site, this works best if it is a guided lesson, with the teacher explaining as the student draws. Later you can ask the student to fill it out with stems going down. Drawing stems with flags going down is usually a problem for students.
I decided my worksheet Rhythm Circle used too much ink, so I did it over this morning. I took out the background, which made it more interesting to look at, but not really worth it in a quick handout such as this. I also changed the colors some, because I was never happy with my choices.
I’m working on posting this same worksheet for younger students, using 8th notes as the smallest value. I’m going to do the same thing with Rhythm Grid. Many of us are starting new students at this time and we need some more elementary worksheets.
I had a request for sharps and flats to go along with the alphabet cards that I posted here. These didn’t take too long, and I hope they will be helpful. I don’t think I will put these on my website, so be sure and print them from this site.
I realized today that I’ve never put this Goofy Piano Card Game on my blog. It’s been one of the most popular downloads on my website. For those of you who already have printed this out from my web site, this is a rerun. But here on my blog it’s a lot easier to group thing into categories to make it easier for teachers to choose what they want.
I made this because one day I was thinking how I could get certain students to realize that it’s not enough to know that a note is “G”, but you have to know which G it is on the keyboard. Maybe that is a failure of my teaching because we play so many duets with the students moving up or down on the keyboard that they think any “G” will do. But at some point in their career they have to know the real deal, so I came up with these flash cards and then decided to make a game out of it.
Now I realize that just playing the game will not teach them where the note is on the keyboard, but when the game is over, you can take the cards to the piano and play some of the octaves. Even better, you can start off with the cards as plain old, boring flash cards and then whip out the goofy piano card and play the game. You can also make sets to give to students to play at home.
Although I have given some ways to play my card game, you can certainly make up your own rules. I tried very hard to make these the same size as regular playing cards. If you have trouble getting these to print out the right size, let me know.
I like the goofy piano graphic so much, I’d like to make a card game for younger students using the goofy piano card. Anyone have a suggestion for an easier game?
These cards are in different positions so students can learn to read steps and skips starting on any notes. I have found that when some students try to read by steps and skips, the stems often confuse them. Here they can just concentrate on the note heads. I plan to use these cards with students just learning to read by telling them which hand to use and which finger to start with. The idea is to make it as easy as possible so they will not develop a fear of sight reading. Clever teachers will probably come up with a lot of ideas and games to use with these cards. Please feel free to share your ideas with others.
In order to not have too large a file, these cards have only steps and skips. I will be posting some different cards in the near future with a combination of steps and skips.
When I was a little girl learning piano, I always got things mixed up. I didn’t understand time signatures, notes were nice but I never used them, and I couldn’t keep whole and half rests straight. That was until I thought of a way to remember them. Years later I was so disappointed to find that everyone else used the same method to distinguish whole and half rests! I thought it was my own little thing.
I’ve always taught my students this way to remember the difference in whole and half rests, drawing little flowers and hats in their theory book. One day I decided to make a poster I could give to beginners or anyone who got them mixed up. I had lots of fun making it. I drew everything myself for this poster, so I can’t blame the clip art on anyone else! Let me know if you find any mistakes. Whole and Half Rest Poster
This is a picture of one of my students putting together the keyboard I made that you can cut out. I printed it out on card-stock and laminated it with “Clear Adhesive Book Cover Roll” that I bought at Office Depot. I asked my student to put it together while I was teaching his sister. He had to run over to the piano several times to see how to do it. He thought he could do it without looking at the piano, but the fact that he couldn’t proved to me that students often don’t really know their way around a keyboard. No wonder it takes them a while to learn the names of the keys. We can never assume they know as much as we think they do. You can find this keyboard puzzle on my blog and website.
This is another piece that is on my website and I’m just now moving it here. My techie-type family was talking about spybots on the web and I thought it was such a cute name, I just had to write a song about it. That tells you something about the difference in musicians and engineers! I wrote this for one of my boy students who is always enthusiastic about anything written for him. The eyes of the spybot were blank and when he came back the next week he had put in pupils, so I changed my art. I see they are a little crooked! Oh well, it’s so hard being a composer and an artist… OK, I admit I’m not much of either, but it’s free!
Musically this piece has a very easy first section. The B section is harder and takes some ability to play 8th notes quickly. I know it’s not going to be as much fun without the art. You can download the music to Spybot here. Just click on preview.
I have found that if a student gets a good grasp of steps and skips without trying to read note names, future reading problems are minimized. The problem is that some students, especially very young ones and students with various learning problems need more help than is often found in their lesson book. Several teachers asked me to make cards similar to these and I hope this will help. I’m not sure if it is exactly what they had in mind! I do plan to make some more cards, so check back later if these are not helpful. Be sure and print these out in landscape. There are 5 pages in this set, some with 3 notes and some with 4. You can print them on card stock and cut into 4 cards per page. Pre-reading Step and Skip Cards
I’m posting a worksheet to learn to draw flats on a staff, Fearless Flats. This is the workshet that goes with Simple Sharps, Notice I added a sentence about moving up and down by 4ths and 5ths. I don’t have that on the Simple Sharps worksheet, but it’s a good idea to mention it as you guide your students. Students who take the Texas State Theory Test have to be able to draw the first four keys in the 5th grade and all the keys in the 6th grade.
I’m trying to finish my worksheet on flats that goes with the Simple Sharps. In the meantime, I thought I’d post this song. I had a student who could never remember the names of the bass clef lines or the sentence Great Big Dogs Fight A-lot. I even tried the one I used as a student, Good Boys Do Fine Aways, but that one is even harder to remember. So I said we could just turn it into a song, and when she came back to her next lesson, this is what I made up. I put it in my book More Sunny Solos and now all my students learn their bass clef notes this way. I didn’t know what to call it, so I just call it The G B D F A Song. When I posted this song on my web site, it was downloaded a lot, so maybe other students around and about are using it too.
I haven’t thought of a song for the treble clef line notes!
I don’t use flash cards all the time. I limit it to about a month or 6 weeks in the spring. Since flash cards are so boring, I turn it into a contest and that makes it more fun. Although each student buys a set a flash cards, sometimes they lose them during the year. So I made a set in Finale and now they have no excuse. While it is important that students learn to play by intervals and not think of each note as they play, students should learn the names of the notes to give them confidence. When we do flash cards in my studio, the student has to say and play the note. I don’t think it does a whole lot of good in piano to know the name of the note, but not which key it is on the keyboard. These flash cards are posted on my web site, but I’m putting them here to help with organization.
This Simple Sharps worksheet has “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle” in small letters above each sharp. I wanted an easy way to teach how to draw the order of sharps to 5th and 6th graders who are taking the Texas State Theory Test. I’m going to post it here, but it has been suggested that I make one where students could add their own sentence because there are several other sentences teachers use. Would that be be useful to you? I’m working on that now and will post it when I finish. I also have a worksheet with “simple flats” but it is old and needs to be updated in color. I hope to get it posted soon for all the teachers who have to get ready for theory tests in the fall.
I’m a visual person. I can’t learn anything unless I can visualize it in my head in an organized way. That must be why I am continually making charts and handouts for my students. I received some requests for more key signature charts so here is another one I use a lot. I use the sentence “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle” for sharps, and for flats I use “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father”. Learning aids such as this that can be said forward and backwards teach the student about the circle of 5ths. I try to make it clear that the sentences are just one way of moving by 5ths, because keys move by 5ths.
This one is blank and I make a lot of copies for students to write out the chart many times. As I tell my students, it doesn’t do any good to have a chart if you can’t write it yourself.
When I am checking my older student’s theory, I aways ask them if they used a chart. They know what I mean because when you take the Texas State Theory Test, if you write out a key signature chart you are less likely to make careless mistakes. If left on their own they write a chart so tiny they can’t read it, plus they lose it. So I give them this worksheet to fill out and we practice writing it many times before the big theory test day. At the test they are given a scratch sheet of paper with a keyboard on it, and they can write their chart on that. No, they can’t take their chart into the test! Of course the goal is to memorize them all, and students eventually will. I always tell my students if I can, anyone can!
I made this worksheet quite a few years ago for students taking the test in grades 7 and up. I originally made it in black and white and it was pretty dull. I added a little color just to brighten the day. It is amazing how a little bit of color can make something less intimidating.
I decided to post this because it dawned on me that other teachers might find a use for it, even if your students don’t take a formal test.
I have some other key signature charts for younger students that I will post if I get a request for it.
I found Rhythm Roundup in my files and it’s so old I don’t remember making it. I might have seen the title somewhere else because I usually can’t think of very good titles. My old one needed a bit a sprucing up so I put some new clip art on it and changed the font. I’m thinking of using this as a review for the Texas State Theory Test.
I’ve noticed that some students know 8th and 16th notes with beams but not flags, and the opposite. So I included both on this handout.
More Rhythn Hearts
Once a students understands the concept of eighth notes and rhythmic dictation, it is easy to move to two measure rhythmic phrases. All they have to do is keep pointing to the hearts as you tap the rhythmic phrase. If your student has trouble, you can fill in part of the phrase before hand, or the entire first measure. Sometimes I do the first measure several times and pause and then the second measure several times and pause. When the student finishes writing I do both measures again. If your students take music exams such as the Texas State Theory Test, this is a good worksheet to get them started on the rhythmic dictation part.
Teaching Eighth Notes, 2 Sounds on a Beat
An easy way to teach children the difference between rhythm and the steady beat is to use heart beats like in my worksheet Rhythm Heart Beats. When I taught music in school, I had a flannel board with nice, big, red hearts. But in piano lessons we can do activities on paper and guide the student one-on-one.
This is one way to explain 8th notes and teach rhythmic dictation at the same time. Explain to your student that the beat in music is like a heart beat. Depending on the age, you can use the metronome while the student taps their chest. It’s fun to speed it up and slow it down. Later you can give them this worksheet and let them tap the hearts with their finger or pencil eraser while you chant “rain, rain, go away”. Be creative! If your student has trouble, you probably need to do more activities keeping a steady beat before you go on.
When the student is ready you can explain that a quarter note is one sound on the (heart) beat, but an eighth note has two sounds on the beat. Repeat the “quarter, quarter, 2 8ths, quarter” rhythm, asking the child to listen for the heart that has 2 sounds. Even young children can figure out it is the third heart. So he/she draws eighth notes in the block above the 3rd heart and quarter notes above the other hearts on that row. You can do the same rhythm again for the next 3 lines, or vary the eighth note pattern. You don’t want to have more than one beat with eighth notes at this point unless your student is older, but later on you can. If the student has trouble, break down the steps further and delay writing until the student is ready.
Tomorrow I will post a similar worksheet for two measure dictation.