On my website I have a link to NotePad, a simple version of Finale, the notation writing program that I have been using for years. You would think I would be better at it, but that’s another story!
The Finale website has announced that in the next several weeks, NotePad will not be free to download, but will be available for $9.95. You might want to tell your students that it will only be free for a very short time.
I remember today that although I had posted these on my website, I had never posted them on this blog, so today I’m posting Halloween, Halloween and Halloween Is Almost Here.
I’m finally getting around to posting the companion worksheet to the treble clef notes.
My post today is a worksheet with all the notes of the treble staff. I am always amazed at teachers who say students don’t need to know note names because we teach reading by steps and skips or we should only learn music by ear. That reminds me of math teachers who say students don’t need to know math facts because everyone uses calculators now! We all know the frustration of a transfer student who can only play by rote.
Certainly a good pianist does not read by thinking note names. But when the hands move to another position, if he doesn’t know the notes, he basically learns where to move by rote, which will help for that piece, but what about the next?
So in addition to learning to play by intervals, students need to learn the names of all the notes in a gradual, sequential manner. It takes some students much longer than others, but all we can do is keep working at it!
Give this sheet to a student and make it a game by timing how long it takes her to do it. To make record keeping easy and simple for you, write the time in his assignment book and see if he gets faster each week.
Back in July I posted a simple game to practice beginning note values. Students liked to play it, but thought it was too short. It also looked pretty sloppy and the clip art mountain climber didn’t go with the style of the game. So I did it over, making it a little neater and minus the boy. Now it is a longer game, but still can be quickly played at a lesson. When things get intense in a lesson with little ones, move away from the piano and play a game. Cards for this game were posted in July, under the *Rhythm* category.
Counting Up the Mountain
About this time of the year some of our students are moving from pre-reading to notes on the staff. While we use theory books that help students learn the notes, sometimes students need a little more practice. I created this worksheet to use in the lesson. We trace over the line for treble G and then find all the other G’s. We do the same with bass F. We repeat with the treble and bass C’s. All that’s left are the middle C’s. It turns out this worksheet is not as hard as they think when they first see it.
Two Octave Minor Picture Scales
I always had trouble reading scales. I could never line up the fingering with the notes. The finger numbers were too small and seemed to keep moving from note to note. Fortunately, it didn’t matter because I played scales by ear and memorized the fingering easily.
When a few a my students had the same problem reading the scales, I got the idea for my first picture scale. This is the 2 octave harmonic minor version. While I’ve received some criticism for not insisting students read the scales, I don’t let it bother me because we all have different students with different needs. If you have a student who is helped by this, I would love to know.
If you read this blog and are starting to get all these Halloween sheets mixed up, well I am too. To make matters worse, I post everything twice, first on my website that this blog links back to. However, I promised to turn all the pre-reading sheets into a grand staff version, so here is Halloween Is Almost Here.
I am now ready to post all 3 of my pre-reading Halloween pieces written on the grand staff. I only have one student pre-reading right now but I have several others who are at the primer level so I really wanted to get this done.
If the pumpkin looks familiar, it’s the pumpkin from my other piece. I took off the top and added some candy shapes.
Notice I added some dynamics and a final A with a rest to make it a little more fun. Please think outside the box and change anything you want. Maybe a cluster at the end would be fun. I thought about the left hand holding the A while the right hand moves up and plays some ghost sounds. Once a Year On Halloween
This has been edited to fix the incorrect version the first time I posted it.
Here is a worksheet for beginners with the notes in random order, in black and white for those of you who don’t want to print in color. I made the guide notes darker. The are nice and big for young beginners, like the other one I posted. Be sure and set your printer for landscape.
If you are a teacher who does not use guide notes, you might want to try it. A lot primer method books introduce middle C, treble G and bass F first. If students can remember these notes, it saves a lot of time. But there will always be students who just cannot connect the notes on the page to what they play. After they write in these notes, see if they can play them, too.
I am working on a worksheet like this for older students. The notes are smaller, but students still write inside the note. It is not in landscape view and has more staves per page. I am going to use it for students taking the Texas State Theory Test.
Note Names for Beginners
Wendy suggested I make a worksheet for students in My First Piano Adventures who are just learning the notes. She also thought it would be a good idea to have a worksheet with the notes in random order. This is something I can really use, too, because I have a few beginning students. Check back because as soon as I figure out what colors to use I’ll post one. Suggestions are welcome!
As I made this, I debated about putting the line through middle C or putting the line behind the C so the student whould have a nice, big note to write in. I finally decided I would show the line because I thought the students would need it to learn how to draw a middle C themselves. What do you think?
If you use MFPA you can draw little whiskers on middle C like in the book.
Over the years I have had students who needed to learn the notes quickly for a test. Some students who try to learn sentences such as “Elvis’ Guitar Broke Down Friday” quickly forget the sentences and get mixed up. Most importantly they sometimes fail to notice that the notes simply move up the alphabet.
I have a few beginning students who would like to take the Texas State Theory Test, and even at the first grade level they have to identify all the notes. I made this worksheet big so young ones can write the note names inside the notes before or after a lesson, during the lesson, or at home. All they need to remember is the first note of each staff.
I also have the worksheet in plain old black and white without my Halloween art if you would like something for older students. If I get enough requests, I’ll post it.
Be sure and set your printer to landscape and try the economy setting. I use that to save ink and it looks very good. Halloween Worksheet
I am working on a Halloween song for a beginning student. As soon as it looks presentable I am going to post it. It will be in landscape format and have 8 measures and a pumpkin at the top. Naturally drawing the pumpkin is taking much longer than writing the little ditty, which takes me about 3 minutes. Check back because I hope to have it posted in the next day or so, and you can pass it out next week.
Meanwhile, a lot of teachers have downloaded Simple Sharps, so I thought I would post a picture of one of my students doing this worksheet. I have made many variations of this sheet over the years, and this is one of my best. I tried to make it as easy as possible to learn how to draw key signatures and it seems to work pretty good.
Students have to learn to draw key signatures for the Texas State Theory Test and other similar programs. If you’ve tried to teach this to elementary age children, well, it can be difficult. Texas used to require 4th graders to draw 4 sharp key singnatures and the grading was very precise. Last year that requirement was dropped for 4th graders. Older grades still have to learn to draw them all, starting with 4 sharps and 4 flats. Here you can see my student trying to master this often difficult skill. I hope he’s thinking *down a 4th, up a 5th!*
Tension in the Hand
A camera is a useful tool during piano lessons. It’s quick and easy and doesn’t use a lot a valuable lesson time.
Beginning students usually have trouble with a rounded hand shape. Sometimes it’s the index finger and sometimes it’s the pinkie that flies up, no matter how hard we have tried to keep it rounded by dropping into the keys.
Notice how this child is gripping the hand and hiking up the 4th finger? The tension causes the pinkie to fly up. This problem developed over the summer when she was having fun playing by ear. After I took the picture, we looked at it together and it was like a light bulb went on. I don’t think she really understood what I meant until I showed her the picture. Children just want to have fun at the piano and sometimes they don’t even know what you’re talking about. It can get real tedious for the average child, so anything we can do to make it more fun and easy to understand, the better.
Most digital cameras and cell phones have viewing screens large enough to see little fingers. If you have one, give it a try.
This is a great time to go shopping for supplies to use in your studio. All the stores have their back to school items at less-than-normal prices. I’ve posted a picture of some items I bought. Here they are clock-wise from the bottom right.
These little see-through self-sticking strips are great for highlighting music that you don’t want to mark up. You can write on it, or just leave it plain. Sometimes the student and I will mark sections of music together, with the same section having the same color. Or we will mark same and different phrases. You can pull all the strips off when you need to. After I bought them, I found some at Wal-Mart a lot cheaper.
Of course, these stickies can get expensive, so I also use highlighting markers. I like the set in this photo because it has the ever elusive and hard to find purple. This set was very inexpensive in the school supply section. You can do the same thing with highlighters as you with the strips, for a lot cheaper, just not as much fun. For beginners who are in pre-reading books, I like to mark the right and left hand with different colors. I have found that marking the hands with different colors can really take away a lot of anxiety for the young beginning student or the student with learning differences. We also highlight dynamics, tempo, and just about anything. I like to choose the color of markers to go with the seasons. Purple and orange are my October colors. I think I’ve mentioned before that I love color!
I also picked up some “Post-it” flags. I use them to mark pages and anything else I can think of. They make a quick way to mark mistakes on music you want to keep clean and they are also see through.
I found these counting chips in the teacher supply department of Staples. I was looking for something to use in my Cover the Keys game. These are perfect, and I can use them with some of my other bingo games, too. I saw some very inexpensive *play money* there, for teachers who want to use play money for rewards. It’s cheaper than some of the commercial composer-type money, in case you want to try it out. You can order the composer money later if it turns out to be a good incentive.
If anyone else has some favorite supplies, send me an email and I’ll share it with the world!