Today’s Throwback Thursday is a very fun and colorful practice chart for students to use at home. I made it so that there are enough spaces to check off practice for three months. If you use a practice chart, it might as well be cute, colorful, and appealing to the students who are going to use it!
It brings back happy memories for me. When my son was young and I was teaching a few students in the afternoon, in the background I would always hear the sound of him searching through his giant Lego box looking for parts. He made amazing Lego creations, and as long as I could hear that sound, I knew his was OK. He says his childhood was spent listening to piano music in the background!
One day when he was a teen, I was playing through some really old music and he came in with a puzzled look on his face and asked me the name of the piece I was playing. He said he knew the music, but he couldn’t remember where he heard it. I just about dropped my teeth because that was the piece I practiced regularly a few months before he was born. Is is possible he remembered it from when I was pregnant? I like to think so!
Piano Tic Tac Toe is a funny practice aid that explains how to keep track of practicing with a tic tac toe board. It’s not a game, but it is a poster you can either use in your lessons, or put in your student’s binder to read at home. The objective is to encourage students to practice difficult sections slowly by playing a tic tac toe game with themselves. A cute little dog explains how to do it. I’ve always thought that a little humor goes a long way!
Students draw a tic tac toe game on a sheet of paper. They chose a few tricky measures they need to spot practice. They slowly play the measures and if they play correctly, they draw an X. If they play incorrectly, they draw an O. Once they have three X’s in a row, they can move on. This is obviously for younger students who have short attention spans. When students are older, then I suggest different games where they have to play the section correctly 3 or more times in a row or start over. But this game does not require that, so it is a very good way for beginners to learn how to practice slowly and carefully. I hope your students enjoy it. Be sure to ask students if they know what the initials in the little dog’s name stand for!
Today’s Throwback Thursday is an easy music bingo game for beginners called Music Is Fun. The art is new, but the music symbols have not changed. There are 10 bingo boards and teacher direction (calling) cards included in this game. The boards are different colors and numbered to make it easier if students trade cards when they play again. If you have a large group or a summer camp, you will appreciate that!
I originally made this bingo game because I needed a very easy game for a group lesson with my beginning students. Most of the symbols in this game are terms students learn in the first pages of their lesson book. The piano keys are included in black key groups of two and three to help students understand that concept. Other terms are measure, bar line, treble clef, bass clef, beginning rhythm notes, notes in a line and space, tie, and a few more symbols.
If you are new to teaching, here are some hints when you play this game.
Don’t worry if your beginners don’t know all of the symbols. Help them out while they play and they will learn them. It’s perfectly OK to tell them the answer. Think of it as a guided learning activity. This isn’t family game night; you’re trying to teach music concepts. Children learn faster in an activity than a page in a book.
I try to make sure they win as much as possible. Young children, because of their development stage, will not want to play if they don’t win often. Older students take winning and losing more in stride.
If I have a child in a group who really seems lost, I partner them with another helpful child and that really makes them feel a lot better. No child want to be the only one in the group who doesn’t get it.
Also, young children might not know what bingo is, so be prepared to show them how to play!
The bingo game board and direction cards.
Bingo tokens, enough for all the students to cover their game board
A bowl or other container for the calling cards
Print and cut out the bingo boards and the teacher direction cards.
Pass out bingo chips to each student. They can put one on the “Free” square before the game starts.
Place all the direction cards in a bowl. The teacher draws a card and calls out the letter on the card and the symbol.
If students have that symbol under the correct letter, F, U, or N, they cover the square with a bingo token.
The first player to cover 3 in a row is the winner.
Students also like to play “black out,” where the first student to cover every square on their board is the winner.
To introduce new musical symbols and terms.
To reinforce musical symbols.
WHY I LIKE THIS GAME
Students love Bingo.
With only 9 squares, this is a very fast bingo game.
Whenever I write about the history of a hymn, I’m usually fascinated by the back story. There is often some twist or coincidence that is very interesting. Today’s hymn is no exception, and if you like history, I think you will agree.
I’ve taught children how to sing a lot of hymns in my various music positions, and I’ve always thought Come Christians Join to Sing is the perfect traditional hymn for children. Although it is over 100 years old, the words are easy to explain and learn. There is the repeated Alleluia Amen they can sing if they forget the rest of the words. And the melody, spanning only a 7th and fun to sing, is a wonderful melody for children!
So I had an “ah ha” moment when I read that the words were originally Come Children Join to Sing. So, yes, the text was written as a children’s song from the very beginning! At some point in the early twentieth century, the words were changed. I assume it is just too good a hymn to relegate only to children. At this time also, Hallelujah was changed to Alleluia.
Then, there is the author of the lyrics, the man who gets all the credit in the hymn books. Yes, he wrote the words, but it turns out there was another hymn with very similar words and the same melody written before Henry Bateman (1813-1899) wrote his text. According to my research, and I admit I’m no expert, Henry Bateman sort of “borrowed” the music and poem structure from William Edward Hickson (1803-1870) when he wrote the words for his children’s hymn, which, with the minor changes I mentioned, we still use today.
William Hickson’s text starts out:
Join now in praise, and sing
This is not to say that Henry Bateman’s poem is not worthy, because the words are very beloved and have been for over 100 years.
There is also the matter of the tune, and here is where it gets more interesting. The hymn tune “Madrid” is said to be a Spanish traditional melody, but I wanted to know more, so I kept searching. What I found was that the tune is indeed a very old Spanish folk melody but I was not able to find any Spanish words.
I did read, however, that a man named Benjamin Carr (1786-1831) heard the Spanish melody and arranged it for piano. Evidently that made the melody popular outside of Spain. A good melody will get around!
Does the name Benjamin Carr ring a bell? You might have seen one of his student pieces in classical music anthologies for children. In fact, he was a piano teacher who wrote music for his students. He was from England, but he came to the US and became very influential in the emerging music community here. We were kind of a musical backwater back then. He started a music publishing company and also performed, composed, and published music of many genres including songs and instrumental music by many composers. He was one of the first music educators here and even published one of the first piano method books in the United States! He seems to be the man who gets credit for popularizing this folk melody.
If that wasn’t enough, there is also this interesting fact about Benjamin Carr. Although he did not compose it himself, he was the first music publisher to copyright a piece of sheet music in the newly formed United States of America, a song called The Kentucky Volunteer.
I arranged this hymn in the key of C to make it easy for beginning piano. If you would like your students to sing it, transpose to another key, such as F. The beautiful art is an ancient English church that dates from the 11th century and was painted by the English artist Steven Underhill.