FAQ: But I don't WANT to play piano today, online edition

I've transitioned entirely to online lessons this year, and overall it's worked out great - students are still learning and building skills, and we're using technology to stay connected.

Teaching online is a little different since I'm not hanging out in person. One aspect of lessons I miss the most is playing together when a student learns a new piece - we learn it one hand at a time, and then I play one hand while the student plays the other, so they can hear it in real-time before playing it hands together. Unfortunately that doesn't work very well on Zoom, but if that's the biggest challenge, I think we're doing pretty well!

There is a challenge unique to online lessons: how to manage students who don't want to play music when we're hanging out over a screen? Some of my games involve small printable board games, coloring, or physical movement, and it's tough when we can't quickly switch over to them like we did in person. However, I've found some of my musical games and activities DO work well online! 

Here are some examples of activities we might do if you find your student is tired, in a bad mood, or not really "feeling it" for lessons today (and you can play these games with your students at any time!):

Ear training activities

  • High or low: I'll play some sounds on my instrument and the student identifies whether it's high or low. Bonus points for doing the standing up/crouching down movements!
  • Loud or soft: similar to above, students identify whether the sounds are loud or soft
  • Same, higher, or lower: I'll play two notes and the student identifies whether they're the same, or move higher or lower
  • Guess the interval: I'll play melodic and harmonic intervals and the student identifies whether it's a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc
  • Copy me: I'll play a short phrase (depending on student level) and have the student play it back to me

Rhythm activities

  • Clap back: I'll clap a rhythm and have the student copy it back to me
  • Short or long: I play a short phrase and the student identifies which notes are shorter or longer
  • Rhythm cards: I have a variety of short rhythm patterns on cards I'll hold up to the camera and the student must play the rhythm shown

Note reading activities

  • Find the measure: I'll play a measure from a piece the student is working on and have the student find it in the sheet music
  • Play it backwards: We pick a measure from a piece the student is working on and play it backwards
  • Flash cards: I've got lots of flashcards to help with note identification, rhythm reading, and dynamics

I often give students the chance to "be the teacher" for these activities too, so we take turns. Before you know it, our lesson times are over, and your student has either learned or reinforced musical concepts, without feeling like it was "work." It's called playing music for a reason, and sometimes even I need a reminder to have a little more fun while we learn! If you're ready to get started, contact me today!