Great Tools for Your Classroom

Posted on Apr 24, 2015 in Logistics, Methods

A few months ago I “met” Debra Perez, co-author of Musical Moments and Way Cool Keyboarding on Facebook and after chatting online we talked some more over the phone. We have yet to meet in person, however we speak the same group piano language and I was so delighted that she has supported this blog by sharing her expertise.  Debra has a great Recreational Music Program and Kids Piano Camps in her two schools in South Texas and has trained hundreds of group piano teachers around the country.

In this post Debra shares a list of six “things” that will insure that you have fun teaching musical concepts!

  • Digital Keyboard: A quality teacher instrument is the number one recommendation! There are so many things you can do with a digital piano.  Recording, sequencing, playback of accompaniment tracks, rhythm styles, and experimenting with other instrument sounds, including keyboard percussion are just a few things that you can have fun with in your group piano program.
  • Floor Keyboard: Indispensable! Use for teaching white key letter names, intervals, chord building, and more! Students can jump on the keys, throw bean bags on the keys, put flashcards on the keys, etc.


  • Floor Staff: Another great tool for reinforcing concepts (lines and spaces, steps and skips, notes on the staff, triads, etc.) away from the piano.  One easy group game is “Simon Says”:  Simon says stand on the bass clef line 1, etc.  This is good when they’re fist learning the lines and spaces.  Then you can later graduate to tossing a bean bag onto the staff, and name and play the note it lands on.
  • Floor Circles: Often, just gathering students in a circle, especially sitting on the floor, will work wonders to fully engage students in the learning process.  Here are a few ideas of things that can be done while sitting in a circle on the floor:  practice tapping out a new fingering pattern, tap a rhythm on their laps, or mock play chords while listening to the teacher play, or to pre-recorded accompaniment.  Sit on the floor when playing rhythm games or using percussion instruments, also.


  • Rhythm Cups: The gist of Wendy Steven’s hot seller “Rhythm Cup Explorations” is as follows: students must master rhythms by tapping favorite beverage cups on the table, with their hands and even on their foreheads.  In addition, all rhythm geniuses must pass and pickup the cups while maintaining the meter and the tempo.  The rhythm drills are sequenced nicely, progressing from quarter notes and half notes up to triplets and sixteenths.  This is a reproducible resource so you only have to buy it once for a lifetime of fun!  Students also enjoy creating their own cup patterns to play with their favorite songs.
  • Assorted Percussion Instruments: these are wonderful tools for teaching beat, rhythm and style, especially for tactile/kinesthetic learners.  Use echo play to learn a new rhythm pattern. Use team play to help students hear the difference between quarter note and eight note rhythms (half class tap/beat the quarter pulse, the other half do the 8th notes, etc.)  Use for rhythmic improvisation – have students make up a rhythm using their name.  Instruments can be purchased or homemade.  A wide array of percussion craft ideas for all ages can be found online.

   I have always enjoyed sharing my passion for playing the piano with others. Throughout my career as a pianist and teacher, I have taught private, partner and group lessons to students of all ages and levels.  And I have also played the piano as a soloist, accompanist, ensemble member, church musician, and even in a band. I love playing the piano.

In 1995, my musical journey took a turn when I placed a very simple poster in the window of The Piano Gallery in Corpus Christi, Texas.  The poster read:

           Make Your Dreams Come True — Learn to Play the Piano
Piano Lessons for Adult  Beginners
                                            Classes Forming Now

That’s how it started. No beautiful classrooms like we have now, no amazing books like we have now, just a poster in the window and a desire to help adult hobbyists play and enjoy the piano.  During the next ten years, I had the joy of teaching hundreds of adults how to play, trained numerous teachers how to teach group  piano, developed two music schools, presented at several music conferences, and began forming the concepts that would later become our Musical Moments Adult Recreational Music Making program.

 Visit to learn more about Musical Moments and Way Cool Keyboarding piano programs.

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