First, I have to say that I don’t live in one of those magical places where the weather is wonderful year-round. I live in the northeast, and we have four very distinct seasons. That’s why when the weather finally gets nice, I try to find ways to get my students outside every now and again. Because we only have from May-September to enjoy it.
Secondly, I need to add that I use the Piano Pronto method. This means that even the little kids start off seeing music on the staff, just like the big kids. So in my studio, this activity works for ages 4 and up!
In June, I found some nice containers of sidewalk chalk for $1 at Target, so I snatched up a few as prizes, and saved a few for studio use. Then I spent some time right before a lesson carefully drawing a keyboard on my driveway.
This keyboard can be used a few ways. I had the student (who just turned five) write the note names on the keys. They weren’t really legible so I wrote them bigger for her to see. Then I got out some piano key flash cards and had her hop to the key and tell me the note name. You can also do a game of Simon Says, calling out note names, having them use the right foot or the left foot, or even their hands.
With an older or more experienced student, you can review sharps and flats this way.
With my beginner students this summer, we spent the last five minutes of a few lessons drawing the staff, the treble and the bass clef. This reinforces the concept of five lines and four spaces. I got out my big foam dice and we took turns rolling. We used 1-5 for the lines (which we had numbered already) and 6 for any space they wanted. If you have a big enough staff, and a small enough student, they can hop from line to line or space to space. Or you can bring out an object that won’t roll away for them to place on the staff.
One more activity we did was racing little cars on the staff. This reinforced the idea that we read from left to right, and went along really well with Roadtrip!
The kids love playing copycat with the chalk too. I would show them step-by-step how to draw a treble clef. Once they figured it out, they wanted to draw one in every color. Or have them see how many half notes they can fit on one line on the staff they drew. I even had one student draw a staff that was the length of my whole driveway! He had a really good time.
The bonus to all these activities? If I have baby William with me, I can lay him down on a blanket on the grass, and he loves to watch the kids draw and jump around.
I’m pretty sure all my new students will be outside at some point this fall, drawing on my driveway. Maybe we’ll use the falling leaves as notes!
Have you moved your piano lessons outside for the summer? Consider keeping the trend going as long as the weather is nice!
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