Two Games that Guarantee Group Lesson Fun

In need of games for your next group lesson, piano party or summer camp? Here are two activities to implement that promise minimum effort coupled with maximum potential for fun and learning.

Game #1: Piano Charades

DecideNow 2

My favorite app for this game is called Decide Now--only 99 cents!  Although it's not a music related app it is so easy to customize that you won't be able to stop using it. Piano Charades is just one example of how I implement this versatile app to reinforce music terminology by students acting out Italian terms at the keys. Here are the steps:

1) Call out words such as: piano, forte, fermata, ritardando, presto, largo, etc. and nudge students to act them out physically. This means YOU need to do it, too. For example: piano could be walking on tip toes while ritardando could be jogging in place and gradually slowing down the pace--like a train approaching a station.

2) After all terms are physically re-enacted, have the students jot down each term to review the spelling and the definition. If they are youngsters, have them draw a picture instead of writing out the definition. Ex: ritardando could be represented with a train engine.

Decide_Now 3) Ask a volunteer to play one phrase of a well-prepared piece as the composer intended.

4) The performer must spin the wheel featuring all the terms just reviewed without letting the others see where the Wheel-of-Fortune-like spinner stops.

5) The pianist at the bench must then play the same phrase but this time change the performance to “portray” the term.

6) The audience guesses the word and if they guess correctly, everyone wins a “fabulous prize” as the performer was successful in communicating the music term through a performance and the audience demonstrated excellent listening skills.

For five more ideas using Decide Now, check out my article in the upcoming Clavier Companion Magazine.

Game #2: Rhythm Cup ExplorationsRCE-Sample-1

If you are unaware of Wendy Steven's hot seller Rhythm Cup Explorations then I am extremely pleased to share it with you now. The gist: students must master rhythms by tapping favorite beverage cups on the table, with their hands and even on their foreheads. In addition, all rhythm maestros must pass and pick up the cups while maintaining the meter and the tempo.

Below is a video of my students mastering rhythms with Wendy's expertly sequenced drills and some beverage cups found at your local grocery store. To help them stay together, I turned on some various styles and accompaniment patterns on my Clavinova.

Don't own a Clavinova? Check out Garage Band or SuperMetronome Groove Box for excellent alternatives for upbeat backing tracks.

unnamedExtra Tip: Once the Pdf is purchased, create a note for the document in Evernote. With its premium level, Evernote is capable of presenting notes similar to Power Point and Keynote. This comes in handy for zooming in on specific pages and rhythm lines.

Not sure what to do this summer? Why not hold a Piano Olympics camp? Here's a past post that explains more.