By Julia Kossuth
One of the opportunities I have at the Studios of Sarah Strout is to teach a group piano class to three 4- and 5-year-olds. Being relatively new to teaching group classes, it’s been a great learning opportunity for me regarding teaching strategies and being creative in class time.
A useful tool I’ve been using lately has been, surprisingly, play-dough. I will have my students use it as a warm up for their hands while they wait their turn to play, as well as play musical games together. One of my students’ favorite games to play is a listening game with play-dough: They each make 4 (or any number you’d like) balls out of their play dough and have to listen to me play 4 notes. Three of the notes are the same and one is different. They follow along with their finger on the play-dough and when they hear the different note they get to smash that play-dough ball–my boys especially love this one!
Another listening game we like to play is the Major/minor snowman. They get to make three balls of the same color, plus a few extra on the table of a different color. When they hear my play a Major chord, they make their snowmen all one color. When they hear a minor chord, they get to make their snowman’s tummy a different color. This one is a little more challenging, but they enjoy it as well.
What are some techniques you’ve found useful in group classes?