The Doughnut Mystery

The Doughnut Mystery

[Ed. All seven Animal Alphabets songs can be found here. AlphabetAnimalSongsBundle]

I decided to make a series of songs, worksheets, and games focusing on one note at a time. Today I am posting The Doughnut Mystery, D for dog and D for doughnut. If you have ever played a one note song, I must mention that it is a lot more fun with the duet. At least that is what one of my intermediate students said, who saw it in my studio and wanted to try it out. (Actually he said it was a boring song, but the duet made it fun, so I took that for a compliment!) Fortunately, younger students are not as hard to please.

If we teach young children, we know that some students need to take the scenic route when learning to read notes on the staff. It is so satisfying to see the feeling of accomplishment on their face, rather than frustration.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you probably know that I do not teach reading by “typing in” the names of each note. I don’t ask my students to say note names out loud as they play music from their books. That takes all the joy out of playing piano and made my own children cry. I learned so much about teaching piano from my own children.

Instead, we learn to read music by intervals. Cards like the ones I posted recently really help to learn to play by steps and skips. I’m reposting them below, and on my website you can find some older ones that are larger and not as fancy. I was worried that these cards would confuse students who are also learning to read notes on the staff, but that has not happened to my students.

Notey NoteheadsNotey Noteheads

Prereading step and skip flashcards

Pre-reading Cards

With that disclaimer, I do think children should learn the names of notes, because how can they learn theory if they don’t know the names of notes? Plus, students need the confidence to move around the keyboard, or to find the starting note. Learning to read music has three parts: learning to sight-read by intervals and patterns to the best of the student’s ability, learning to quickly identify all the notes on the staff, and knowing where these notes are on the instrument.

How I Introduced D

After I showed the student middle D on the staff, I placed large size flash cards around the room. Some of them were D, and he searched all around the room and collected them. Next, we got out the big floor staff and played games. Then, we drew D’s on a large staff (to the best of his ability). We also identified D’s in a method book. I also made a new game to find D, and we played that.

Finally, I decided we were ready to play middle D on the piano. He was so excited! First we learned the words to The Doughnut Mystery and “drummed” and chanted them on the piano cover. Then we practiced changing fingers on the piano cover, making doughnuts with the fingers. After he could play it by himself, I played the teacher duet, and it was perfect! He loved it!

To reinforce reading by intervals, I followed that up with some of the pre-reading cards posted above.

The next week he came back and told me the D note fell off, that’s why it’s on the bottom and the dog ate it. That let me know that he has internalized the location of D on the staff.

If you teach 4-6 year old children or have a learning challenged student, you might want to try this out!

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12 thoughts to “The Doughnut Mystery: It’s “D” Day!

  • Doreen

    Love these little songs – great for “little ones”- they so enjoy them as they are not “hard”! Thanks for your creativity = very very much appreciated! Make my job a bit easier and more fun.

    • susanparadis

      Doreen, I’m glad you like them. One of the reasons beginning students quit is because it gets too hard to quickly for some of them. So if they can do it and understand it, they will stay in piano longer and who knows what they will accomplish. Some students are late bloomers!

  • cj

    Just found the Doughnut Mystery song and the Elephants Are eating song. These will be so much fun! Thank you! You must love your job!

  • fame1444

    Susan, I wish I had read this earlier today! I introduced the D key to a new student today and this would have been perfect! Thanks for sharing, I’ll use it as a review at next week’s lesson.

  • Wendy Prevezer

    Thank you Susan for all your wonderful ideas. I teach some very young children (from 3 years) in ‘Playful Piano’ sessions and am really grateful for your creativity and generosity!

  • Marsha

    I love this idea! thank you for sharing!

  • Whitney P

    Can’t wait to use this next week with my young students just transitioning to the staff! Thank you so much for your willingness to share. I know this will be helpful.

    I am using your sight reading cards with ALL my students this summer! I’ve told them we’re not going to focus so much on their lesson books. We are going to focus on sight reading and learning to play scales and chords….AND we’ll play different games each week all summer long!!! Your resources are just perfect to help us with this!

    Thank you!!!

    • susanparadis

      Summer is a great time to focus on specific skills. Usually my students practice more if they are home during the day, so they make a lot of progress. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • susanparadis

    Hi Phyllis,
    I’m glad you are able to use the pre-reading cards.
    As far as games, I’m going to post a set of 5 really easy board games that I am using right now. It just takes me so long to post something that I don’t have time to post all that I would like to. I also used a giant floor bean bag toss, and I have some giant dice that I used. I’ll try to post that, too. I’m not sure the upper age limit for the song I posted today. I would be interested in knowing what ages teachers find it useful!

    • Phyllis Pan

      No worries…..I know it takes time. It’s good to get the ideas rolling…..that’s what’s important. Keep up the good work. : )


      • susanparadis

        Thanks Phyllis.

  • Phyllis Pan

    I like that…..I will try that myself on my next beginner student. I take it that you’ll be working on “e” next. : ) Curious…..what “d” games did you do with your student after he found the cards around the room. BTW…. I;ve also tried those pre reading cards you posted a few months ago and they worked really well teaching students how to move by step and skip….Thank you.!!!

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