Have a ball at group lessons!


Starting a composition and naming it can be tough. To charge up the creative juices, we played a game called "Would You Rather" with the help of a groove and a beach ball at this week's group lessons.

When I rang the bell, they had to stop and whoever was holding the ball had to answer the question under his/her right hand.

"Would you rather eat dinner in a castle or breakfast in a hot air balloon?"

"Would you rather eat three live worms or a tunafish and peanut butter sandwich?"

They didn't want to quit...

The video explains it best. Click here if you can't see it.


Sometimes it's just hard to get to know your students when they're sitting on the bench next to you. They may feel a little shy about sharing their thoughts, their likes, their dislikes, etc. In a group setting and with an icebreaker like "Would You Rather," all those inhibitions get tossed aside--yes, pun intended!

How will this contribute to an upcoming composition project?

After a student answered the question, most everyone else chimed in with their answer and we discussed why they chose what they did. They were eager to start making connections with what they like to what they will be creating at the keys.

Bonus: did you notice that this is a great activity to get them moving to the beat?

WARNING: Stock up on beach balls...more ideas to come. Here's a screamin' deal on them if you can't find beach balls in your local stores right now. Remember to look for them on sale at the end of summer!

What questions to include on your "Would You Rather" beach ball

Here's a start. Begin each statement with the words Would you rather...

  • Run a mile or swim a mile?

  • Go to a movie theatre or watch Netflix?

  • Stay up late or wake up early?

  • Have a robot or a monkey in the house?

  • Sleep on a hard pillow or a soft pillow?

  • Eat pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza?

  • Eat breakfast in a hot air balloon or dinner in a castle?

  • Eat a hamburger or a hotdog?

  • Paint a picture or take a picture?

  • Do word finds or crossword puzzles?

  • Do math homework or science homework?

  • Have ten brothers or ten sisters?

  • Go to school on Saturdays or go to the dentist every week?

  • Ride a bike or a skateboard?

  • Color a picture or draw a portrait?

  • Drive a self-driving car or a spaceship?

  • Become a famous singer or a famous actor?

  • Shop at the mall or play at the park?

  • Snowboard or ice skate?

  • Have a fish or a bird?

  • Eat mac 'n cheese or spaghetti?

  • Play at the beach or in the snow?

  • Live on the beach or on a mountain top?

  • Have a cat or a dog?

  • Live without music or without TV and movies?

  • Talk on the phone or go out for ice cream?

  • Be a super hero or a villain in a movie?

  • Wear running shoes or flip flops?

  • Eat a bug or get stung by a bee?

  • Cook dinner or clean up?

  • Take a walk or a bike ride?

  • Go out for Mexican or Italian?

  • Read the book or watch the movie?

  • Eat 3 live worms or a peanut butter and tuna sandwich?

  • Take a vacation or $1,000 in cash?

  • Eat chocolate chips or gummy bears?

  • Take a road trip or a stay-cation?

  • Ride in a plane or a train?

For more "Would You Rather" questions, checkout my Pinterest board.


Use chance

Create a Wheel in Decide Now


Need a fresh way to determine who performs first at the group class?

To review the sound and look of intervals, students were asked to read my e-book Understanding Intervals last week during Off-Bench Time. During the group lesson, everyone spun to see who would play first. I created three wheels in the Decide Now app, with level-appropriate intervals.

  • Wheel #1: Intervals Repeat-5

  • Wheel #2: Intervals Prime-8

  • Wheel #3: Major 2nd, 3rd, Perfect 4th, 5th, Major 6th, 7th, Perfect 8va.

After the student spun, he/she was asked to play the interval on the piano and try to recall the tune that is associated with that interval in Understanding Intervals. For example, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" begins with a 2nd. The student was then asked to sound out more of the tune. Naturally, everyone sang along!

The student who landed on the smallest interval performed first and others followed according to the size of their interval.




Need to build up knowledge of key signatures?

In preparation for upcoming theory tests at the local Federation Festival, students identified specific key signatures within the Challenge Mode of the app called Tenuto. They took turns naming the key as the key signatures flashed before them. After each drill was completed, they were challenged to reach a new high score. Music Money awarded to the whole group for beating the prior score. I'm never above bribery!

Note: you don't need to hook your iPad to an HDTV in order to play this game. I like to reflect my iPad during groups lessons to show videos or to explain theory concepts with an app called Octavian.




Need one more winner for your next group lesson?

Make sure to get Rhythm on a Roll.

This game was developed for my group lesson week last December. I brought it out for group lessons this week and everyone was excited to play it again. That was good news to me because you know how some can moan about doing anything more than once.

My students also enjoyed the new score cards with the rests and playing the variations I mention in the resource.

Tip: we played this as students were performing for each other. It works well as the audience is quiet, listening and thinking at the same time. This keeps them from getting restless.