“Movement is the starting point for wiring the brain for learning.” Gill Connell a moving child is a learning child
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 more than ten minutes will prove to be counterproductive and in some cases nearly impossible.
Movement can help maintain children’s attention and engagement during the lesson by reducing restlessness and breaking up monotony. 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.
When you add interest and value to your lesson by adding movement you will watch your students transform.
How to incorporate movement in your lessons?
There is no better way to teach rhythm than by teaching it through movement, the brain needs movement to process rhythm. That’s why your students will not truly sense the rhythm if they are not moving, or sitting on the bench counting whole and half notes all the time. They need to get up and move.
Body percussion is the easiest way to start; try clapping, stomping the feet, tapping the thighs, and so on. Begin with a simple beat and progress to a more complex rhythm, or practice tapping the rhythm of the piece being learned, and so on. To make things more fun and interesting, all you need is a set of rhythm sticks or any percussion instrument.
For younger students, you can have the notes (whole note, half note, quarter note, etc. ) printed out on separate squares of paper and the children move the notes around to compose different rhythms. Then tap them with their hands or play them on a set of bongos or any other available percussion instrument.
When the student becomes more advanced you can teach rhythm patterns by using plastic cups (rhythm cups). The way to do this is by having a short 4-measure rhythm printed on a piece of paper. Using a plastic cup the student will play the rhythm, either tapping it with their hands, foreheads, or on the table depending on what is marked on the sheet. It is extremely fun and engaging particularly in a group setting.
Teach melody (directional movement)
If you are using the color coding method, you can use mats with the colors of the notes, place these mats on the floor, and ask your student to jump on them while you play the note the student jumped on creating a short melody. To make it more advanced you can place a small square of paper with a whole, half, or a quarter note, thus teaching melody and rhythm simultaneously.
If you are not using color coding, play 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.
Once you start teaching reading the notes on the staff, you can stick 5 lines of black duct tape on your carpet or floor to represent the staff and start 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.
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 students' 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.