3 Fun and Engaging Ways to Add Movement to Your Piano Lessons.
What is movement and why we need to use it:
If you teach preschoolers, hyperactive children or children with special needs, adding movement to your piano lesson becomes a necessity. Having these children glued to their benches for the full lesson can prove to be counterproductive and in some cases nearly impossible.
Instead, add interest and value to your lesson by adding movement and watch your students transform.
In fact, It has been scientifically proven that combining music and movement together provides many mental and physical benefits including social interactions and language growth since children will be using a multi-sensory approach to learning.
How to incorporate movement in your lessons?
Teach rhythm and steady beat:
The brain needs movement to process rhythm. That’s why your students will not truly sense the rhythm if they are sitting on the bench all the time. They need to get up and move.
All you need is a set of rhythm sticks or any rhythm instrument and you're set. If this is not available, no problem, your student can stamp the rhythm of the piece they are trying to learn with their feet away from the bench before attempting to play it on the piano.
If this is not enough and you still want to make things even more interesting consider investing in the following:
Rhythm Cup Explorations by Wendy Stevens:
One line rhythms are printed on a sheet and the students use plastic cups to play the rhythm by tapping it with their hands, foreheads or on the table. It is extremely fun and engaging!
Children are Composers by Hanne Deniere:
The whole note, half note, quarter note, etc. are written on separate squares of papers and the children move the notes around to compose different rhythms and tap them with their hands or play them on a set of bongos or any other available percussion instrument. This is extremely suitable for beginners and young children.
Teach melody (directional movement)
Start with playing one note on the piano and then another, then ask the student to jump forward if the second note is higher and jump backward if the second note is lower.
If you want to make things more interesting stick 5 lines of black duck tape on your carpet or floor to represent the staff and starting with the student standing on a line or in a space, play a second note higher or lower and ask the student to move up or down the staff according to what they hear.
In her method Children are Composers, Hanne Deneire uses Mats of different colors to represent different notes and the children jump on them to compose different melodies.
This works best if you teach groups. I have the children stand next to each other in a line and have the same number of mats on the floor in front of each one of them. I play an interval and the one who guesses it can move forward, and the rest stay in their places. The first one to jump over all the mats wins. This is one of the favorite games in my studio. Children ask to play it every single lesson.
I am sure once you start adding some of these activities to your lesson you will never stop, the internet is full of many other high quality and educational ideas and resources.
For more teaching tips and ideas...
Three Easy Steps to Teach Young Children Piano Key Names.
Creative ways to use colored popsicle sticks in your studio.
How to use color-coding to teach reading music to children with special needs in easy 4 steps.