Education music resources: here is a list of my favorite resource materials, whether for piano, voice, guitar or violin student.
These are terrific tools whether you are a new teacher or very experienced!
Aside from books and the metronome, my favorite and most-used teaching aid is a cloth keyboard that I can lay on the floor, formerly available from TCWResources, but now at Kjos Music.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE these cloth keyboards!
I actually have two of these keyboards and frequently use them together; they are reversible, with keys on one side, and 5 staff lines on the other side. Cool!
Do you see the nice giant paper treble and bass clefs? These I also acquired from TCWResources, (which now sells their products at Neil Kjos). I ask students to "place them on their lines". Of course, the "G" or treble clef goes on 2nd line up on the staff, the "swirl". The bass or "F clef" sits on the bottom staff so that its 2 dots surround the F line.
The keyboard side of the cloth is also very handy for learning how to form the different kinds of chords and scales, by counting up by half-steps.
After forming a particularly interesting chord or scale or something quite new, I usually ask students to go over to the piano and pick out what they just made to see how it sounds.
What are you looking at here?
A D major pentascale, of course!
Building 5-note major scales using the "secret formula" of "Tonic, whole, whole, half, whole" really brings the meaning of those intervals to life for kids, when they get to manipulate little creatures on the cloth keyboard.
For interval recognition, I might say,
"Take two animals (tiny plastic critters which fit neatly onto the keys and also the lines and spaces of the staff - available at Amazon) -- ... Put one of the animals on... a 'D'. Now make the other animal walk up a third... or a fourth... "
For beginners, I would probably just say "Walk up a step," or "Hop a skip!"
And here are some animals illustrating notes going up and going down from Middle C (the animals on the top and bottom edges of the cloth staffs are the "C" notes - they were initially side-by-side, until I pulled the two cloth staffs apart, illustrating how music staffs appear in students' music).
Yes, that is a colorful octopus in the bass clef...
My students REALLY ENJOY getting the plastic animals out. It is nice to get down on the floor, away from the pressure of piano work, and just have the task of selecting animals!
Every couple of years I buy a different set.
My students never seem to tire of these Piano Races games! In fact, they LOVE these games and frequently ask to play them.
And I admit the two games are clever, and do reinforce learning. Yes, these spinner games are great, but I find them a bit tedious PERSONALLY, perhaps because I sometimes pull them out when I'm dissatisfied with a student's lesson preparation and I want to salvage the last few minutes of our time together.
You can buy the beginner level Piano Races at Amazon now.
The advanced Piano Races game is my favorite. It has fun "traps" such as "Swap Places" and "Lose This Turn".
Here, you have to be able to identify the black keys by name.
So how is the game played?
At my studio, we each pick a small plastic animal from a basket, place it at the far left of the keys, then take turns spinning and moving critters to the right ("up the keyboard") to see who can reach Middle C first before the timer goes off. (The timer is absolutely necessary to prevent this game going on forever!)
I'm sure there are other ways this game could be played. If there is another student in the studio, or a sibling or two, I will ask them to play the game instead of me. More fun for them!
So far, this level of the game does not seem to be available on Amazon, but you can find it at MusicTreasures.com.
This is a great little timer.
Easy to use, very cute, and the battery is still going strong 2 1/2 years in.
It does have A VERY LOUD BEEP.
So here's what we do with the whiteboard at my studio:
We draw staffs. We draw clef signs. We draw notes, up and down the staff. We draw sharps and flats, note values, rhythms.
We will never do ALL of these things in the same session. Our drawing time is short, but cumulatively, over the weeks, kids get pretty good at drawing musical symbols.
When it is time to go back over to the piano, I say,
"Ready? Get your eraser... on your mark, get set, GO!!!" and we see who can erase their side of the board first. I really don't cut them any slack, so I USUALLY WIN.
When I acquired these terrific markers this year, my students noticed the difference IMMEDIATELY.
Bright, vivid colors that glide on smoothly. No discernible odor.
What was cool is that the markers came with THREE of each color, packaged in 3 separate plastic zip-loc bags. I thought to myself, "I'll bet these pens stay fresh longer!" because you KNOW how quickly felt pens go dry.
And I was right. These are the best markers I've ever bought, and they are lasting a long time, although my students come and draw all over my whiteboard, pictures of all kinds, all week long!
I'm just starting into set three.
My board is 36" by 24", and it is perfect for two people to work side-by-side. I don't know how these boards at Amazon are; I bought mine used from a friend years ago.
And these erasers have held up quite nicely (I've gone through sets of others pretty quickly in the past):
These Note Speed cards are beautiful cards, and the game itself has stellar reviews from music teachers.
The game is played like Speed, trying to get rid of cards by playing cards on top of the same or a neighboring note. A Middle C card can be laid on top of another Middle C, or a D or a B, the neighboring notes.
The game can be played like Solitaire, or with multiple partners. Pretty fun!
The different sets show different notes: Middle C to second-line G in treble clef, for example. Or all bass notes.
The very first set of cards is just the musical alphabet: A B C D E F G. This makes approaching the game much less threatening for beginners!
Thanks a lot for building such a nice site where people can easily find and free download sheet music for beginners. I am going to start teaching piano to kids. I was just searching for some basic interesting songs for my pupil. Here, I found a wonderful site where I spent more than 3 hours and downloaded some music. Thanks again for making my day easier.
Thanks for your interesting web site. I am a piano teacher in MI with around 20 students that come to my home each week. I share many of your observations about music and trying to find fun music for them to learn at an early age. I googled your site because I am looking for innovation with my autistic student. I have had 3 boys of varying ability in the past and it is always challenging.