This week was group lesson week. In keeping with our Magic of Music theme, I wanted to focus on a couple activities that would give them that last motivated kick before the program ended mid-April.
The first activity that I wanted to focus on was mood pieces. In the Magic of Music program students have the opportunity to earn points towards their magical progression by changing a mood of a piece. I have a mood chart in their Magic of Music book that they can pick moods from but I thought it would be fun being February to use conversation hearts for their mood. It was fun seeing how the students interpreted the words on the hearts. When one student picked “text me”, she played her piece in a more stiff robotic style adding staccato’s, etc… where normally her piece is very legato. At the end of one of my classes we had a little extra time so a couple students volunteered to play a piece and the other students would guess the mood that they were playing.
After the mood piece activity we moved on to a hands on project. In the Magic of Music program there are five elements of music that they are focusing on. Rhythm, Notes, Dynamics, Articulation and Artistry. I wanted to provide another practice tool students could use at home that will keep the focus on these elements. The idea came about on one of the message boards to use spinners as a practice tool. This was just the thing I was hoping for! So I went online and downloaded a free spinner templates here: http://www.mathwire.com/templates/spinners.pdf Students colored their spinner template, each color representing a Magic of Music element. Blue- Rhythm, Red- Notes, Yellow- Dynamics, Green- Articulation and Black- Artistry. You will notice in the picture above that black is on the spinner 4 times. I did this on purpose because I want their goal to be able to play their piece with artistry pulling all the other elements together. Then they took a gold brad and extended a paper clip out for the spinning “arrow” and they made their Magic of Music practice spinner.
Another opportunity that students could earn points was to improvise. I have found that some students are very wary when it comes to improvisation. It helps to give some basic guidelines so they feel a little more safe on trying something on the piano especially if it’s in front of everyone. I found out about this game from a teacher who shared some activity ideas for group lessons. It is called Hot Potato Improvisation. I took some cardstock and cut them into cards marked Notes, Dynamics and Tempo. On the Note cards were things like: black keys only, white keys only, CDE only, FGAB only, etc… On the cards marked Dynamics I added: p, mp, mf, f, etc… And then on the cards marked Tempo I added: Adagio, Andante, Moderato, Allegro, etc… Students would then pick a card from each category and this would be there guideline for their improvisation. Now for the hot potato part… I started out by improvising on the piano. Once I began to play students sitting in the circle started passing Schumann, our piano spider. When I stopped then the person with the spider would come up and improvise as the hot potato game continued. You can add to this and have student 1 scoot over the the bass and student 2 join him on the treble. I didn’t worry about it for this time, but I think when I try it again, I will do that. It was a lot of fun and I found that the students weren’t as hesitant to improvise on the piano. I think there were two big reasons. 1) They had some guidelines to work with and get them started. 2) The attention wasn’t totally on them because everyone was having fun with the game so they didn’t have to worry too much about sounding good or not.