Have any of your piano students got stuck in a particular five finger position?
Often it can be the notes around middle C which is where a lot of tutor books start. Many gently encourage students to use different fingers so they don’t associate a note with a particular finger. But others stick to thumb on middle C, 2 on D and so on.
When students start lessons everything is usually brand new (unless they have learnt another instrument) and there can be a lot of information to remember. Having a familiar starting position is probably quite comforting but it doesn’t really help in the long run.
When they encounter a piece where the fingers have changed, chaos (or panic) can ensue!
I use a fun game to combat this which my own students absolutely love. I even have leaderboards up in the music studio and they often go straight to the wall when arriving for a lesson to check who is at the top!
Here is a picture of it in action and read on below for how it works …
The game I use is called Fruit Ninja but there are several others that work in the same way. It is completely customisable so teachers can choose notes to suit the individual student.
I pick a note the student knows and ask them to put a finger on it that they might not normally use – so E in the right hand, for example, with finger 2 on it. I then drag the five notes on screen into position starting with E.
Once set up, we use interval reading or steps and skips to play all five notes. Scoring is out of 5 – so 5 points for all correct, 4 if one wrong etc. It’s amazing how much more focused students are on playing perfectly when it’s part of a game score! Sometimes I might ask them to also name the notes to check on note recognition.
After the question comes the game part. The student’s task is to fly the little watermelon to safety without colliding with the fruit ninjas.
The game follows the format of question, game, question, game etc. The question and game score are added together for the final total.
Fruit Ninja is part of a pack of eight games designed specially for music teachers to use in lessons. Notes can be dragged in treble or bass clef so ideal for any instrument (and not just piano). Play games like ‘Don’t Wake Lenny’ or ‘Supercow’ and have total control over the questions in the game.
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