I’ve been using my Peppermint Notes staff with students in the last week. First of all, the staff is not quite large enough for a peppermint, but we just pretend it is. If you’re a real stickler for that sort of thing, however, use a dime because that fits and is easy to move around. You can still give them a peppermint to eat. I drew in a line for middle C, and we moved one peppermint around to find the notes that I would call out.
It has been a fun activity and my students like it. I’ve only spent a little lesson time on it, just something to do away from the piano to add interest to lessons and hopefully learn or reinforce a concept. It’s been successful to reinforce landmark notes. I’ve found that younger students seem to have more trouble visualizing the peppermint being on a line or a space, but it has been a good way to go over the music alphabet for the ones who haven’t learned their notes yet. We started on A and pushed the candy up the staff going over the music alphabet. Yesterday I really wanted a thin cord or string so I could show how the note was really “on the line”.
Here’s some observations I noticed with a student who just turned 5. He had a light-bulb moment when he realized the notes on the staff have the same letters as the keys on the piano. “It only goes to G just like on the piano”. That made the activity worthwhile. My peppermint staff was working for something! At the time I thought he didn’t get the difference in the peppermint being on a line or space, that it was too abstract. After several tries, I still wasn’t sure he understood so I let it go. [Note to me: get some red string and try that.] But when we got back to the piano, he was quickly able to find line and space notes on a large grand staff in his piano book, so he was understanding it better than I thought. You know that feeling a teacher gets when she knows she has taught a concept? That’s what teaching is all about to me!
I could have used another staff I’ve made, the Grand Staff for Dimes, for the same purpose, but this one with the peppermints added a lot of fun to the lesson so I’m glad I made it. I asked my students and they like having seasonal activities and they overwhelmingly said YES!