I’ve mentioned before that I owe the esteemed pedagogue Jane Bastien a big favor, because she is the teacher who gave me the idea for the One Minute Club that I have been doing in my studio for years. If my students can say and play grand staff flash cards in one minute or less, they become a “member”. The student who is the fastest is the overall winner and I give some sort of prize. This year it was a gift card to an ice cream parlor. To allow more winners, once a student has won, he or she never has to do it again, so someone else gets to win. The winner is always a high school student because at this age their motor skills are highly developed. This year a student was able to say and play all the notes on the grand staff in 17 seconds. That’s pretty fast! I only spend about 6 weeks of the year on this activity because otherwise it becomes predictable drudgery and isn’t fun.
Elementary children have to really work to be able to get their time under a minute. I keep a yearly record and sometimes it takes several years, so once they can do it they are very proud of themselves. I make a business size card that I give to the elementary students and in the little star-burst on the right side of the card I put in the number of years they have received it. No one seems to mind that it is always a high school student who wins. It gives the young students something to look forward to, and adds a little hero worship to my studio.
One year a very young student was able to be a member and a few weeks later he told me he got a wallet just so he could put his card in it. I make a different card each year and I think they enjoy seeing what the card will look like each year. I tell them the cards are “collectible”. This year I used a drawing of a piano that my daughter painted for me.
My cards are made to be printed on Avery Business Cards #5371, or a template that size. However, if you have one of the easy to use graphic programs such as Print Shop or Publisher you can make your own cards. You can even make them in Word because there is a business card template built into the program. You can download cute clip art from the web. If you don’t have a color printer, you can make it in black and white and use colored card stock to print the card. Write me if you need some help making your own.
I don’t have time here to go into how I prepare students to learn their notes, but this activity is not the only thing I do, especially with young students and beginners. I use all kinds of activities to get students to this point, including the games and activities I’ve posted as well as a lot of other activities. That is one reason we wait to do the One Minute Club at the end of the spring semester. What I have found over the years is that if students know the names of the notes and where they are located on the keyboard, they do better in piano lessons. While I teach by intervals and I think that is very important, students who know their notes quickly learn their music faster and enjoy piano more, especially when they are no longer in 5-finger positions.
By the time they are teens they don’t really care about getting this card, so don’t bother to make one for this age group. They do, however, enjoy trying to beat the other high school students in how fast they can play the notes!