Group Piano and Science

Posted on Jan 9, 2019 in Featured, Methods, Piano Camp

Why Science?

For the past few years incorporating S.T.E.M. into every day learning has been popular in public schools. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  S.T.E.A.M would add an Art component to the mix.

You can find all sorts of ways to add these subjects to your classroom activities and a great debate could ensue regarding the pros and cons of this collaboration.

I like to think back to my son’s preschool and kindergarten days.  Mixing up subjects in order to understand the relationship of things was quite normal.  Planning a complete week based on a theme that would include all subjects was just common sense!  But as he progressed through each grade the subjects became more specialized and isolated, not to mention more boring and tedious.

Could this be the same thing that is happening in our piano studios?  Are we just flipping the page to the next song in the book?Shouldn’t we want to encourage wholistic learning so that learning to play the piano does not become boring and tedious?

As I asked myself these same questions I answered, Yes!  I emailed my son’s chemistry tutor who also happens to be a musician and after brainstorming for a few days the concept for Musical S.T.E.M. was born.

How does it work?

This past summer my group piano students had a blast making connections between music and science! In a nutshell, this is how it worked:

Who? Piano students ages 7-11 (mixed ages and abilities)
Where? My studio (no extra rent payments!)
How often? Once a week or Four days a week (I did both with different sets of kids)
What did they learn to play? All of the pieces where learned by rote – for everyone.  I did not give a single piano score to a student.
What about the science? That was the best part! We explored patterns, vibrations, bending sound, dissonance and built a celery piano controlled by a computer!

Why is this important to group piano?

It was such a pleasure to see students take in all this information and make sense of it.  Even now, six month after the class I hear them talking about dissonance, finding patterns and wanting to explore more and make those connections.  Plus, the goals of community, making music together and just feeling good about learning to play the piano without the pressure of practice was an important tool in promoting group piano at my studio and student retention.

Can I peek at your lesson plan?

I thought you would never ask!

Tune it! is a fun lesson that includes playing a super easy song at the piano and tuning your rubber band instrument. Enjoy!

Let me know if you tried this lesson with your group piano class!

6 Comments

  1. Beth Keller
    January 15, 2019

    Awesome idea!

    Reply
  2. Lois
    January 15, 2019

    I would very much be interested in seeing more of the activities that you used in your camp! I teach summer youth classes, and this sounds like something that could be a lot of fun.

    Reply
  3. Karen
    January 18, 2019

    Hello Dorla,
    I love your summer STEAM camp idea! Do you sell your lesson plans? I saw you posted the “Tune It” plans and it just left me wanting more. I would love to offer something like this, this summer! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Dorla
      January 19, 2019

      Karen, thank you for your interest in these lessons! I had a blast teaching them and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. I am in the final stages of publishing a set of lessons – which will be quite affordable, so stay tuned!

      Reply
  4. What is Musical S.T.E.M.? -
    February 16, 2019

    […] I mentioned in a previous post  our teaching and learning has become increasingly segregated. We separate the arts from the […]

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