Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Composing Music with Music Dice

 This week we've been making practicing fun by using several different kinds of music dice.  My 6 year old resists practicing more than my other girls so I'm trying to motivate her to enjoy music and that includes writing music.  She has absolutely loved this activity which we spend a couple minutes between chunks of our practice time.

I have this great staff paper that is really big and long.  This is great for the kids who like to write big.  I bought it at Music in Motion and I'd like to stock some in my store soon.  However, there are plenty of free sites where you can download staff paper with a variety of sizes like this one that has three different sizes.

The first step was teaching her how to make a treble clef.  It's so much fun to draw treble clefs, don't you think!  I love doodling treble clefs.   After she drew a treble clef she would roll a time signature die to determine the time signature of her composition. 

The next step was to use the musical notes die to determine which notes to draw.  Since she's a violinist she used the A Pententonic die.  There are other dice available such as the C Pentatonic die (great for pianists and general musicians) and the G Pentatonic die in the bass clef for cellists.  Basically all of the pentatonic dice have the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 8th note of a scale (A, B, C#, E, F#, and A for the A Pentantonic dice.)  These notes generally sound pretty good when arranged in any order.

I let her decide what kind of note (we were only doing quarter and half notes) and she figured out where to put the measure lines.  When her measures were finished she and I would play her composition.  I would play different versions of it as well (different rhythm, different pitches) so she could see that she could develop it into a song.  She got such a kick out of listening to me compose a little piece out of her melody.  I noticed her doing this later on her own.

Here is one such composition (notice the half note is backwards.  :)  This has sparked an interest in practicing again...at least this week.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Twinkle Games

We did it!  My darling daughter finally received her Twinkle Trophy!!  She played variation A and Twinkle Theme at least 100 times and all the others in the middle just as many (but we didn't count.)  She can stand an play all six twinkles in a row with the piano.  She has graduated from TWINKLES!!  Yea!!!

This is such an accomplishment for me as as well as her.   I feel so blessed that this lovely girl loves the violin and I think a lot of it is because practicing has been (for the most part) fun from the beginning.  She loves to get the violin down and play every single day.  It has become a part of her.  I've taught her the beginning phrase of French Folk Song and she plays it non-stop.  This girl was made to play the violin.

With that said - it still hasn't been all cake and cookies along the way.  Here are some of the "games" we have played to keep practicing interesting and fun.  We don't play games everyday, but when times get hard it's always nice to have one of these games ready so practicing can still get done.  I will also use these games in the future because there will be lots of review of these twinkles!

Twinkle Memory
I like to use the Twinkle Flashcards for twinkle memory.  I just make two sets of the cards and shuffle them around and set them up-side down and play memory.  Whenever she gets a match, we play that twinkle!

Meredith Strings Review Cards
I just love these cards to use with all my kids and students.  For the twinkles I just take out the 6 cards for twinkle and put them on one side of me, and when she plays them I put them on the other side of me.  When they are gone - she's done!  Sometimes I turn them over, sometimes I don't so she can pick.  You can also do these with the flashcards above, but these cards are so cute with the pictures - and they are great quality!

Sticker Charts
My daughter is a sticker person and she loves putting stickers on a chart.  I have several different charts to download and use as you're playing your twinkles.  For us, we had to have a folder to keep them all straight, but it was worth it because each time she'd finish a chart I'd let her get a prize out of my prize box (a box full of dollar store items.)  This was a great motivator - especially when she'd near the end of a chart.  She'd end up playing some of the pieces more than ten times a day because she knew she was close to accomplishing her goal.

There are two versions of this game.  Basically it's just the twinkles listed twice and sometimes we'd start from one end and go to the other.  Sometimes I'd just have her put a sticker on the chart and when it was full we were done.  I laminated these ones so we could use them over and over.

This was probably our favorite game.  There was so much chance in this game.  Sometimes it would go on forever and sometimes we were done in a snap.  What I love about this game is that my daughter really recognizes the different rhythms.  This was another game I laminated so we could use over and over.  Sometimes I wouldn't even use the game board and she'd roll the rhythm die to see what twinkle to play.

This is a fun game board that uses all sorts of bright colors and has lots of activities.  This one is a favorite to use with a fun die (really big - or really small - or just really pretty.)  I noticed with a 3 year old attention span it was a bit long, but it could be divided into a couple of days of practicing or would probably be great for a student who is 5 years or older.

There are also lots of blank game boards available to download for free online.  I'd love to hear some of your ideas for practicing the twinkles!