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Teacher's Lesson Plans

By Marilyn Lowe

Teacher’s Lesson Plans coordinate with each student book. They provide sequenced instruction in the areas of audiation skills, keyboard technique, creativity and improvisation exercises, and readiness activities. Tonal and rhythm patterns for songs and performance pieces strengthen audiation skills and reinforce the process for learning new music.

How to Organize Activity Times and Lessons

Each lesson plan is designed for an hour of instruction with three or four students. However, teachers can adapt lesson plans for individual instruction, two students for 45 minutes, overlapping students, or weekly group activity sessions. Teachers may follow each lesson plan as printed or use the plans as a resource of ideas. These lesson plans apply to the first two or three years of lessons. As students progress, they need more keyboard time.

“Lesson Time Objectives” presents an overview of the lesson plan. After students become familiar with the course of instruction, teachers can emphasize particular aspects of the lesson content for a few weeks. For example, teachers can spend more lesson time on creativity and improvisation activities, or they can have a multi-week instructional unit in which students review scales, cadences, and arpeggios.

Suggested lesson plan:

I.

Activities to Teach Audiation Skills
    A. Play the “Watch Please” game in duple meter.
    B. Provide duple meter rhythm pattern instruction.
    C. Sing songs while students engage in movement activities.
    D. Provide tonal pattern instruction.
    E. Teach the “Song to Sing.”
    F. Play the “Watch Please” game in triple meter.
    G. Provide triple meter rhythm pattern instruction.
    H. Sing songs while students engage in movement activities.
    I. Provide tonal pattern instruction.

II. Keyboard Geography and Technique
III. Exploration/Creativity/Improvisation
IV. Book/Listening Assignments – Review previously assigned performance pieces
V. Teaching New Performance Pieces
VI. Wrap-Up and Discussion of Assignments

Separate the teaching of major and minor tonal patterns. Precede tonal pattern instruction with a song in the same tonality. Follow the Lesson Plan sequence for teaching tonal patterns.

Separate the teaching of duple meter rhythm patterns and triple meter rhythm patterns. Precede rhythm pattern instruction with a song or chant in the same meter. Follow the Lesson Plan sequence for teaching rhythm patterns.

Scheduling the Lesson

Piano students benefit from longer lessons. Forty-five minutes to an hour provides more guided instruction for two or three students than 30 minutes with one student. When students are scheduled in small groups of two, three, or four (or with overlapping lessons), each student has someone with whom to play games and share musical ideas. Skills are reinforced through repetition when more than one student is present. Performances take place at every lesson because an audience always exists.

Keep in mind that groupings do not always need to consist of matched students. The teacher who understands the strengths and weaknesses of each child can be flexible with groupings. This makes scheduling easier.

Student Books

The student books have basic information to help students play the performance pieces:

  • The keyboard–hand illustrations show students the fingers and keys used to play a performance piece that they have learned by rote. They also serve as a reminder of how a performance piece sounds.

  • Pictures of scales, arpeggios, and cadences help students visualize the keyboard.

  • The music score is for parents and teachers.

  • The teacher dates items on the “Check List” when they are heard at the lesson. Items do not need to be completed during one lesson time.

  • Students should listen to the accompanying CDs as an important part of home study. CD recordings contain songs to sing, performance pieces, and tonal and rhythm patterns for each of the performance pieces.

Because the approach is aural, students first learn the music through guided activities at the lesson. They listen to the whole piece (or song) and then learn tonal and rhythm patterns from the piece (or song). By breaking the music into parts, students can better understand the whole piece. They also engage in technical readiness activities specific to each performance piece. Then students learn to play the piece by rote and by looking at the pictures.

“Lesson Time Objectives” communicates lesson assignments and content that may be covered during the lesson. In a sense, the student books are workbooks with information and activities that help students learn to play the music.

The “Check List” communicates to the students and parents the date when students heard each item at the lesson.

How to Organize Preparatory-Level Activity Times and Lessons

With the Preparatory Book, groupings and class schedules will vary according to individual teaching situations. Small groups of two to four kindergarten-aged children can meet for 30 to 45 minutes a week and have ample time for both keyboard activities and circle game activities. The group can meet in a small space with one piano.

Suggested lesson plan:

I. Play the “Watch Please” game in duple meter.
II. Chant duple meter rhythm patterns while moving to macrobeats and microbeats.
III. Sing songs or chant “chants” in duple meter while the children engage in teacher-directed movement activities.
IV. Provide tonal pattern instruction in either major or minor tonality. Separate the teaching of major and minor tonal patterns.

V.

Play the “Watch Please” game in triple meter.
VI. Chant triple meter rhythm patterns while moving to macrobeats and microbeats.
VII. Sing songs or chant “chants” in triple meter while the students engage in teacher-directed movement activities.
VIII. Provide tonal pattern instruction in either major or minor tonality. Separate the teaching of major and minor tonal patterns.
IX. Have students take turns creating and improvising new music at the piano. (A helpful hint for class control is to organize students alphabetically by first name. The children will always be in the same order, but an activity can start with any child.)
X. Engage in movement and rhythm activities for preparing students to play performance pieces.
Xi. Teach new performance pieces and review previously learned performance pieces. During this time, children not playing the piano can draw pictures to represent the sound of a piece. They can also draw pictures to use for creating and improvising musical ideas.