Tag Archives: Free Piano Teaching Resources

Throwback Thursday Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Composing Activities

Mothers Day Composing Activity

Today’s Throwback Thursday includes two old favorites, Mother and Father’s Day composing activities on and off the staff, and of course they are free! They were originally posted about nine years ago, and I’ve revised them over the years, putting both the pre-reading and on-the-staff versions in one handy file!

Every year I plan to remind teachers about these Mother’s Day composing activities on my website, but I always wait until it’s too late. This year I remembered in time for students to compose an ending and even memorize it before Mother’s Day. Even if students have learned to read notes on the staff, they enjoy these simple composing activities. They can be found on the composing page, along with ones with other holidays, and one for “anytime.”

Fathers Day Composing Activity

There is an  “on the staff” version for older students. Notice there are skipping notes and hands together. Students can write a melody divided between the hands, or write a melody in one hand and an accompaniment in the other. Clever students can write words to their melody. By having the rhythm already written for them, it makes it easy to compose a melody.  On the pre-reading version, students can write finger numbers.

Of course, students also love to make up their own pieces and play them for you. I encourage my beginners to memorize these “compositions” because the music is usually beyond their abilities to write the notes!


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Filed under Composing Activities, Preschool Music Resources

Throwback Thursday – Robot Practice Chart

Robot Practice Chart

Robot Practice Chart

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!


Filed under Teaching Aids

Throwback Thursday – Rhythm in the Grid

Rhythm in the Grid

Rhythm in the Grid

I’m on a rhythm kick here on Throwback Thursday. Last week I posted Rhythm Pizza, a great hands-on way to teach rhythm values. Today I am posting Rhythm in the Grid,  two rhythm posters for older students that show rhythm values another way. We all know students have different learning styles, so it helps to have many ways to show concepts. You can laminate this and put it on your wall.

Our state theory test is an amazing effort by many volunteer teachers. For better or worse, students get a medal if they score high enough at their actual school grade level. If they are an older beginner they have to know rhythms much more difficult than they are playing. However, this chart really helps older students see rhythms logically and realize it’s not as difficult as it initially seems.

I’ve administered the rhythm performing part of our test to hundreds of middle and high school students over the years, and I’ve found that most of the mistakes occur because students:

 Don’t hold dotted rhythms long enough because they

 Don’t count, because they are

 A little rusty on how to count, and they are

 Embarrassed to count out-loud.

Every one of the above are very fixable by practice with you. It is quite true that some students find counting out-loud while they play difficult, so tap the rhythms with a pencil. For some reason, that seems to help with “performance anxiety.”

As teachers we might think our students know concepts because they have very good ears and are great imitators. But if they are tested by a stranger, even a really nice one like me, little flaws can show up.

Adult pianists have told me they can’t learn new music because they don’t really understand “timing.” This comes from adults who play at the intermediate level and were really good a picking up rhythms once they heard them, but didn’t know how to figure them out for themselves. I know that I have been surprised sometimes when I thought students knew things that they evidently forgot, so let’s not blame teachers. It just happens.

There are two pages in this PDF file, one for dotted quarters and one for dotted eighths. I hope this teaching tool will help your students, so after they leave you they will have a good foundation in rhythm.

If you want some of your younger students to practice rhythms, here is a little Easter egg game you can play. It’s very simple. Hide the egg cards around the room and when they find them, they tap they rhythm. You can find all my Easter material here. 

Easter Egg Rhythms

Easter Egg Rhythms



Filed under Easter, Intermediate Students, Rhythm

Throwback Thursday • New Year’s Game

New Year's Game

New Years Game

Have you ever had a student return from the holidays and sadly inform you that they had been out-of-town and didn’t open their books the entire time?  I usually turn it into something funny, like, “I can’t believe that they don’t allow you to bring pianos on airplanes anymore!” or something equally silly. One student thought I was serious and wanted to know if we could do that in the old days. That might have been the same student who thought I rode a horse and buggy to piano lessons.

If your student is a beginner, pull out this New Year’s game, and after this brief review of music symbols and vocabulary, you can get back to work at the piano!

This game is very much like the Birthday Game. [The art is the same, but the Birthday Game is a 3-level note-identification game, including ledger lines. If you have older students, you might want to give it a try.]

Below are two ways to use this activity, but please feel free to make up your own rules.


  • Beginning piano students.


  • New Year’s Game board.
  • Star cards cut into circles.

Directions for Student/Teacher

  • Print only one copy of the game board. You and your student will use the same game board.
  • Place the circle cards in a container.
  • Each player will choose a color of star to cover. For example, the student will cover the yellow stars on the board, and the teacher will cover the blue stars.
  • Players take turns closing their eyes and drawing a card from the container.
  • After drawing a card, the player identifies the symbol and places the card on the correct symbol on the game board.
  • If young beginners do not know the answer, help them out because we want the student to be successful.
  • The object of the game is to cover all of one color of stars on the game board.

Alternate Activity

  • The student draws all the cards and identifies them as they place them in the correct spot.
  • You can time older beginners to see how long it takes them. Some students freeze when they are timed, but others love it.


  • To review music vocabulary words and symbols.








Filed under Holiday Activities and Worksheets, Music Vocabulary, Theory