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8 Fun Activities Kids Can Do During Their Piano Practice Time


Aside from practicing their pieces, kids can do many other beneficial activities, to make progress in their musical abilities. These activities encourage memorizing, note-reading, creativity, and more. Your child should do several of these each week to vary their routine; ideally with the help of you: the parent or guardian.


Here are 8 activity suggestions:


Review previously learned pieces

Reviewing pieces your child has previously learned will create a greater sense of pride and accomplishment for them as the older pieces should be easier to play due to continual improvement. Sometimes kids will remember their favourites and will enjoy playing them with more ease than before. The parent or guardian can prompt the child to do this review as your child may not do this on their own accord.


Learn a piece of rote

Learning by rote means your child will learn a piece without relying on or reading the sheet music. Often these pieces contain memorable patterns so that they are easier to memorize (those that don’t require a lot more effort). For most kids, rote pieces are easiest to learn when there is a video that they can refer to at home. If you, as the parent or guardian, are available to aid your child with their memory and assist them by using YouTube to find the videos, it will help your child immensely.


Some recommended piano books with rote pieces include

  • Piano Safari Pattern Pieces by Julie Knerr and Katherine Hague

  • Diversions by Juan Cabeza

  • Little Gems by Paula Dryer


Learn with YouTube Synesthesia tutorials

There are videos on YouTube that have a piano keyboard at the bottom of the video, and from the top of the screen, there are thin vertical coloured bars that descend towards the piano keys indicating which piano key or keys to press. These videos are called Synesthesia tutorials.


The length of the vertical bar indicates its duration, and there are often two to four separate colours used to distinguish which hand plays which notes. Most videos will have one or more reference notes written on the keyboard: C4, the fourth C on the piano, is most common, but other videos might indicate the other C’s as well ( C1, C2, C3,  C5, C6, C7, and C8).


By using the various YouTube playback speeds as well as the pause button, your child can watch the video(s) to help them learn their piece. This method of learning really emphasizes memorization and fast key recognition as the notes flow down the screen at the speed that the music is played.


Note: Parents will have to be highly involved with this learning process for inexperienced children and/or those under the age of 8.


An example of a synesthesia tutorial is the

Carol of the Bells on the PHarmonize channel: https://youtu.be/k5NBsKzoglU






Preview the next piece

Challenge your child to use their acquired knowledge to preview the next piece. Ask them to look at the symbols, notes, and directions of the notes to see what they can identify. Listening to a recording of their piece on a streaming platform, such as YouTube or Spotify, can also clarify some or all uncertainties. Use positive reinforcement to praise your child for what they do know, and remind them that the items that they don’t understand are what their teacher will teach them in their next lesson.


Play a music game

There are many websites that sell digital downloads of music games for young children to enjoy. These games are a great way of introducing or reinforcing or music theory concepts to your child. Games may be on topics like note naming, musical symbol identification, interval recognition, and rhythmic patterns.


Vibrant Music Teaching, Teach Piano Today, Whole Foundation Method, and Busy Little Turtle are some of the more popular ones. All games come with instructions on how to play them and what additional materials may be needed (e.g., tokens, dice, a whiteboard).


Improvise

Having your child improvise their own music can create joy and personal satisfaction for them and boost their self-assurance and confidence. This activity lets them explore their own musical ideas, potentially compose their own musical compositions, rely on themselves, and convey their emotions and ideas through music. It also improves their memory skills as they have to recall patterns, melodies, and structures while playing.


If you are proficient in music reading, I recommend using the following book series that encourages collaborative improvisation with your child:

  • Pattern Play series by Forrest Kinney

  • Invitations to Improvisation by Angelina and Kevin Gibson


In these books, it is instructed to have a teacher or parent play a repeated pattern on the left side of the piano while your child improvises a melody or note pattern on the right side.


Use apps to help


Spending time on an app can benefit your child’s rhythm, note-reading, and listening skills. My favourite apps for kids are:


Note Rush

  • needs to be played at the piano as it uses the microphone to recognize notes

  • focuses on note-reading

  • paid app $11.99 CAD


FlashNote Derby

  • can be played away from the piano

  • focuses on note-reading

  • paid app $6.99 CAD


Rhythm Swing

  • can be played away from the piano

  • focuses on rhythm reading

  • paid app $4.99 CAD


Epic Orchestra

  • can be played away from the piano

  • focuses on tapping the screen to the beat of the music

  • free to download but has in app purchases


NinGenius Piano

  • can be played away from the piano

  • focuses on note-reading, music terms, and various musical symbols

  • paid app $0.99 CAD


Music Turor

  • can be played away from the piano

  • focuses on note-reading

  • free to download but has in app purchases

  • there's also Music Tutor Plus that is $2.99 CAD


All of these apps are easy for kids to use independently as they are quite user-friendly and geared to children ages 6 and up. Music Tutor and FlashNote Derby may need some assistance to set up the note ranges, but this would only have to be done once. You could sit with your child while they work with these apps, but it’s not necessary.


Use Boom Cards Online

Boom Cards are online activities where students click or drag objects to complete a given task on a card and then the next card is displayed with a similar themed activity. The cards are available on a variety of different educational topics: math, language, geography, etc., and can be very stimulating for those who thrive on learning in this format. The music based ones are used to introduce or strengthen a variety of musical concepts, like note and rhythm reading, often geared to beginner and elementary piano players. An example of one exercise would be to either drag Easter eggs with note names onto the correct piano key pictured or click all the Ds on the piano keyboard displayed. Some of my favourite exercise creators are “Cascade Method,” “Ms. Emily’s Music,” and “Kelley Bordeaux Piano”. The price of a boom card deck ranges between $2 – $10 CAD on the Boom Learning site as well as the Teachers Pay Teachers site.


After reading this, I hope you have more ideas on how your child can spend their time towards enhancing their piano education.


Happy practicing!




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