5 Long Distance Piano Games
This winter, you’ve probably taught a record number of phone, Skype, or Facetime piano lessons. I love the way technology helps us not feel like we have to offer makeup lessons! But of course, there are some things that are difficult to do long distance, so you might find yourself with a little extra lesson time and wonder what kind of fun games you can play long distance!
“Let’s do our snowman matching note name game!” you might say, and then, “Uh, nevermind. I guess you don’t have those cards at your house.”
Or you might say,
“Hey let’s play a duet together!” but then realize that there is a time delay in any phone, Skype or Facetime conversation.
So, here are 5 long distance piano games that you CAN play with your students over the phone, on Facetime or via Skype:
5 Long Distance Piano Games
1. Barely Bingo
Student: A new piece of music (like Happy, Happy Birthday), a pencil
Teacher: The same piece of music as the pupil
Okay, the object of Bingo is to get 4 in a row, right? So the object here is have the student yell “Bingo!” when he or she finds 4 of the objects that you call out. Tell the student that you are going to say a music term out loud and that you want him to to circle all of those things in his music. “If you can find 4 of these objects in your music, circle them and say ‘Bingo!'”
Sharp, flat, dynamics, bar lines, C’s, D’s, E’s, steps, skips, repeated notes
2. Where’s Waldo?
Student: A piece of music (like The Booger Song which your student can buy and print from his house)
Teacher: The same piece of music
Explain: “Okay, look at your music and pick only one note in your music. That’s going to be your Waldo. I’ll ask you a bunch of Yes or No questions and try to figure out exactly where your Waldo is.”
Then, carefully choose which questions to ask such that it encourages the student to really think about their music.
Is the note on the 1st beat of the measure?
Is the note on the 2nd beat of the measure? (etc.)
Is the note underneath a dynamic symbol?
Is the note in the bass clef?
Is the note in the treble clef?
Is the note a half note?
Is the note a quarter note?
Is the note in m. 17?
Final Question: IS THE NOTE A D? etc.
A piano for both teacher and student
This works just like any playback activity, except that you have to keep in mind that the student will be slightly delayed when the play it back. However, they’ll probably think they are right in time, so don’t worry so much about them playing right after you.
Tell the student you are going to play something on the piano that they can’t see. Give them the starting note or hand position. Then play it and ask them to play it back exactly as you played it to them.
4. Questions and Answers
A piano for the teacher and student
In the same vein of playbacks, play a short phrase that asks a question (don’t end on tonic) and ask them to play back an answer (and tell them to end on tonic). Depending on the level of the student, you can teach them about parallel and contrasting phrases or even ask them to ask you questions and you play answers.
5. Flashcard Frenzy (Facetime or Skype)
Teacher: Flashcards (note names, key signatures, triads, etc.) and a stopwatch
Hold up flashcards in front of the camera and time the student to see how long they take for a given number of flashcards. Then, repeat the same flashcards and ask the student to try to beat their time.
6. Rhythm Explorations
I know I said there were only 5 games, but I thought I’d mention that it’s really easy to use Rhythm Menagerie and Rhythm Manipulations on the phone. Of course, you can’t count and clap with them, but why not have them do it for you? You can have them do their meowing page (in unit 3), their monkey sounds page (in unit 4), their hopping page (in unit 4), their knees and toes page (unit 5), etc. You get the idea.
If they already have the page, you are ready to go, but if you don’t , just scan the page and send it to them before their lesson. Or take a screen shot when you have it pulled up on your computer (Mac: press and hold command, shift, 3) (PC: Alt + printscreen, then paste it in an email).
What other long distance piano games and activities can you play with your student? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!