The Elephant Face Quiz Book is another way we keep our students practicing note recognition. It's not a book for the students to write in - it is a series of random note timed quizzes for the students to play in 60 seconds or less.
Using cute phrases like "Good Bikes Don't Fall Apart" and "Elephants Get Big Dirty Feet", our students are not only recognizing notes on sight, but they are also finding the corresponding keys on the piano keyboard.
We let them practice the quizzes during the week between lessons. It works ok because they don't know which quiz we will ask them to do at the actual lesson. We've also started using these cool PowerPoint Timers in our online group lessons.
We start the timer running when the student starts the quiz. It creates a lot of excitement among the others as they watch to see if the student will beat the clock or not. They're always super excited to color the "30 second circle" in their books when they complete a quiz in 30 seconds or less.
The Quiz Timer will be our January freebie for Piano Together Club members to use with the Elephant Face quizzes, or for anything else! You can purchase the Elephant Face book from Amazon.
Choosing the right Method Books has had a major impact on my studio. When I started piano at the age of 7, my piano teacher taught me from a bright yellow book - "Smallwood's Piano Tutor." It has lots of tiny notes and lacked colorful pictures. At the time, I knew nothing else, and the book was fine with me - I just wanted to learn the piano.
Smallwood's wouldn't work with my students. For most of them, piano is just one of many extra-curricular activities. It has soccer, basketball, dance and gymnastics as competitors, so it needs to be equally interesting and enjoyable.
So after trying a few other method, I settled on Piano Adventures and Bastien New Traditions. Both of these books come with apps and play-along tracks - that speaks my students' language. Technology is the thing these days.
Both books contain music that my students enjoy playing. I really like the detailed control of the play-along tracks offered by the Piano Adventures app. It's possible to control the speed of the tracks, the volume of the different parts etc. And super easy to use too. I love that Bastien New traditions is an all-in-one method containing technic, repertoire, lessons and theory. It is so refreshing to have everything in one book, and it has a decent app too.
The apps are fantastic for group lessons. It's like having a whole band at every lesson. I encourage parents to purchase them for home practice too.
My students generally don’t like to repeat anything – even if they made a dozen mistakes while playing. I tell them that practice is “smart repetition”, but that doesn’t seem to do the trick. So I use the apps to do the trick for me!
First we all play the piece at a very slow tempo. Then I challenge them – “Who thinks we can kick things up a notch?”
They always ALL think they can kick things up a notch, (even if they can’t play the piece well). So we take it up a notch and usually there is someone tripping over sections, which gives us a couple more repetitions at that tempo before kicking it up another notch.
When we finally get to the “full tempo”, they have usually got the piece down pretty well, so I send them home to practice it for presenting at the following lesson.
What are the pros and cons of the method(s) you use for your group classes?