JWY! Teacher Resource Blog

Thanksgiving Resource Round-Up

Posted by Merrily James on Nov 15, 2018 12:08:42 PM

Celebrate Thanksgiving with your students using great composing activities, games, and worksheets!

Pre-Reading Composing - download PDF

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On Staff Composing - download PDF 

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Save the Turkey - download PDF

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Chasing the Turkey Board Game - download PDF

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Color Mr. Turkey - download PDF

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Funny Thanksgiving Food - download PDF

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Thanksgiving Crossword - download PDF

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Thanksgiving Harvest (Major or Minor) - download PDF

Thanksgiving Harvest Ear Training Worksheet


Pilgrim's Key Signature Crossing - download PDF 

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Rainbow Robber (Beginning Rhythm Game)

Posted by Merrily James on Sep 26, 2018 2:54:32 PM


Click Here to Download Rainbow Robber PDF

Players: Materials: 2 players one laminated game board, six coins, two dice, 18 playing cards

Musical Objective: To reinforce recognition of note values in 4/4 time

Game Objective: To steal coins from an opponent’s pot of gold

Setting It Up: Players should sit beside one another with the deck of cards placed between. Each player should have a die. Three coins should be placed over the squirrel image and three coins should be placed over the leprechaun image.

Playing The Game:
1) To begin, one player removes the top card from the deck and flips it over to reveal an image of a note value.
2) At this point, the game becomes a race. Step 3 below, while explained for Player 1 only, will be performed by both players simultaneously.
3) As soon as the note value in Step 1 is revealed, Player 1 determines the number of beats the note value receives in 4/4 time and then attempts to roll the corresponding number on her die.
4) The first player to roll the corresponding number on her die wins the round. If the winner is the student, a coin is taken from the leprechaun’s pot of gold and placed on the squirrel’s pot of gold. If the winner is the teacher, a coin is taken from the squirrel's pot of gold and placed on the leprechaun’s pot of gold.
5) Players repeat Steps 1 to 4 until all of the coins have been removed from one pot of gold (the player who has lost all of her coins loses) or all cards are removed from the deck (the player with the most coins wins).

*To speed this game up I give my students 3 rolls with the dice to try to match the note value, and myself one try (they usually win quickly!). No dice? No problem! My students have been obsessed with this free virtual dice from the app store. 

Rock On!

Beethoven in Bits

Posted by Merrily James on Jun 7, 2018 11:55:52 AM

This is a cool printable puzzle activity from WunderKeys that will give your teenagers the break they deserve while improving their sight reading skills and their understanding of motives, motives in repetition and motives in sequence.

  1. Print and laminate Beethoven’s Portrait Puzzle found here. Important: Read the printing tips at the bottom of this post. The portrait is divided into nine “puzzle pieces”. Before cutting out the puzzle pieces, examine the back of the portrait with your student and complete the following steps:
    1. Look at the first musical excerpt (numbered “1”). This is a motive.
    2. Look at the musical excerpt next to this motive. This excerpt is Motive #1 in repetition. This means a portion of the motive has been repeated.
    3. Look at the final musical excerpt in this row. This excerpt is Motive #1 in sequence. This means the motive has been transposed to a higher or lower setting.
  2. Repeat the steps above for Motive #2 and Motive #3.
  3. Next, cut out the puzzle pieces, shuffle them and then spread them out on the floor with the musical excerpts facing up.
  4. On the word, “Go”, start the timer and have your student arrange the musical excerpts in the order that they appeared before the puzzle was cut into pieces. Hint: Remind them that the motive in repetition follows the original motive and the motive in sequence follows the motive in repetition.
  5. When your student believes the puzzle pieces are in the correct order, have her flip each piece over (being sure to keep the pieces in their positions). If the musical excerpts were arranged correctly, Beethoven’s portrait should appear in the correct facial order. If there are any mistakes your student must flip the cards over and make the appropriate corrections.
  6. When the cards have been flipped over and correctly display Beethoven’s portrait, stop the timer. In future games, the student can attempt to beat her time.

Important Printing Tips:

This activity only works if the double-sided printing is done correctly. If done incorrectly, Beethoven’s face will look like a Picasso. So, when manually printing the file, put the paper into your printer with the leading edge first and print Page 1. Then place the paper face down and feed it back into the printer with the leading edge first again. Note: The edge of the page that goes into the printer first is called the leading edge. If it’s easier, mark the leading edge before printing Page 1 so that you can locate it again when printing Page 2.

If this spacial challenge gives you a headache, try this: Download File 2 here. Print it out as two separate pages. Paste the pages back to back, laminate them and cut them out. Note: This method will only work with File 2.

Something's Missing

Posted by Merrily James on May 31, 2018 11:34:59 AM

This is a great game from Pianimation to reinforce counting and rhythm. 


1. Print board, and cut cards

2. Select a card, and identify the note that's missing to complete the bar

3. Move to that note on the board until one player wins


Download Something's Missing PDF

Something Missing

No-Sweat Student Assessment

Posted by Merrily James on May 18, 2018 2:19:45 PM

Playing Through Time: A No-Sweat “End Of Year” Student Assessment For Parents

JWY-0817-1-84Lessons are coming to a close for another year. In the next few weeks most families will decide if they are going to continue on with lessons… so it is really important that piano teachers give them every reason to keep on, keepin’ on. 

And there’s no better way to communicate the importance of piano lesson participation than by sharing with parents the progress their children have made this year.

Keep reading below as we share a simple and effective end-of-year assessment strategy called, Playing Through Time (idea from Andrew and Trevor Dow). 




Nothing demonstrates a student’s progress better than a visual and aural demonstration. When demonstrated, even the most “non-musical” of parents can gain a good understanding of their child’s progress and development. But demonstration is not just for the parents; you can say goodbye to hours of report-writing time!

“Play Through Time” is a simple and effective way to show parents piano student progress. It takes just a week or two of in-lesson prep by going over tunes your students should be playing anyway.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Prior to Demonstration Day have your student select four pieces to prepare: 1) the first should be a very early piece he learned as a new piano student (dig back into your primer method books and have him select a piece that he remembers with fondness), 2) the second should be a piece he learned at the start of the current teaching year (seek out a “September favorite”), 3) the third should be one that your student was playing mid-way through the current year, 4) and the fourth should be one that he is currently working on, but that is ready for a “mini-performance”. If your student is brand new and only began this year, decrease this list by one piece.
  2. During lesson time, help your student review and prepare each of the four pieces. It’s important for your student to do some self-assessment during this process by noticing the changes in difficulty from piece to piece; remembering any struggles he had with the older pieces, and calling attention to his current abilities and how the pieces he learned in the past have contributed to his playing abilities.
  3. Send a personalized email to your student’s parent(s) asking them to attend the first half of their child’s lesson at a specified date (you can use my email template below):
  4. When Demonstration Day comes, welcome parents to their child’s lesson. Working in order of oldest to newest piece, have your student introduce each piece and, before playing it, discuss when he first learned the piece, what he liked/likes about it, and what used to be difficult about the piece.
  5. When all 4 pieces have been performed, ask for feedback from parents. Enjoy the warm-fuzzy sharing that will ensue. You can then continue the lesson as normal after saying, “goodbye” to Mom and Dad or you can invite them to participate in a rousing piano game!


Hi Janet and Steve,

It’s the end of our teaching term (already!) and Aidan and I would love to invite you to attend the first half of his next lesson. I like to provide piano parents with a good snap-short of their children’s progress and I’ve found that the best way to do this is with something that I call a “play through time” demonstration. This will give you the chance to see (in-person) the wonderful progress that Aidan has made on the piano this year.

He’s very excited to share his accomplishments and I can’t wait for you to be amazed by how much he has learned!

Could you let me know if you will be able to attend?

Thank you so much,


Posted by Merrily James on May 11, 2018 2:08:01 PM

Little kids need extra reinforcement with right hand/left hand and with associating each hand with a clef.

This version of Slapjack (from MyFunPianoStudio) is played similarly to the original, but with twist that makes it even more fun- each clef must be slapped by the correct hand.

How to Play Slapjack
The adult turns over one card at a time. Each time a clef is turned over, kids quickly slap the card. If it’s a treble clef, they slap with the right hand. If it’s a bass clef, they slap with the left hand.

This game is great with a single child or a group of kids. If you’re with a group and worried about kids slapping too hard, you can have them slap the carpet in front of them and just check each time to make sure they used the correct hand. If the kids are up for some competition, play it like the original, where the kids race to be the first to slap- but it only counts if they use the correct hand.

Get Slapjack
This is a free printable game. Just click the button below, print (cardstock is recommended), and cut out the cards.

This free piano game is a fast and effective way to help young kids. Give it try- they’ll be laughing and having a ball!

Download PDF of SlapJack


Crossing Galaxies (Score Study)

Posted by Merrily James on Apr 25, 2018 11:52:50 AM

This activity from WunderKeys will help students analyze a piece before they start to play it. This will help students to look at the music more carefully, and not be overwhelmed when starting a new piece. 


How To Play:

  1. To begin, the student looks at his sheet music and names the very first note on the treble (or bass) staff. Next, he searches the Crossing Galaxies Score Study page for the matching letter and colors it in using his colored highlighter.
  2. The teacher repeats Step 1 using her own colored highlighter.
  3. The teacher and student repeat Steps 1 – 2 (alternating turns, moving note-by-note across the music) in an attempt to align three stars of the same color. The three colored stars can be aligned vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Draw a line to connect the three.
  4. When three colored stars are aligned, the player using that colored highlighter scores one point.
  5. Play continues until one of two things happens: 1) Players reach the end of the piece OR, 2) One player scores five points.
  6. If players reach the end of the piece before scoring five points, the player with the most points wins the game.
  7. Notes: 1) If a player cannot find a star because all stars containing the required note name have been colored, the turn is over AND, 2) As the game progresses, the coloring of a single star may result in a number of different combinations of three aligned stars. In this case, one point is score for each new connection of three stars. See above for a game board example.

Download Crossing Galaxies Worksheet


Cut Up a Song Grab Bag

Posted by Merrily James on Apr 6, 2018 11:46:50 AM

Parents often ask me for more techniques to help students practice hard parts in their music without going back to the beginning. I like this game because it makes it impossible for students to start from the beginning and gives them a visual tool to measure their practice. You can also use the Musical Mystery Bag technique if it suits your student's needs better.  

1. Make three photocopies of the music your student is working on. 

2. Use scissors to cut out the difficult passages your student needs to work on. Cut multiples copies of the hardest parts. 

3. Include some "surprises" in the grab bag. This could be the hook of an easy song they love, a note telling them to do something silly like a headstand, etc. 

4. Put everything into a bag and decide how many your student should pick each time they practice.



Student Saver Pieces 

Posted by Merrily James on Mar 20, 2018 12:39:41 PM


Everything is Awesome 5 Finger 
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The Entertainer

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Count on Me (Try playing chords and singing with beginning students. Students with small hands can play triads using 2nd finger in their left hand, and 2nd and 3rd finger in their right hand). 

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Beethoven's Fifth


Dangerous Situation

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St. Patrick's Day Resource Round-Up

Posted by Merrily James on Mar 8, 2018 12:45:59 PM

Add some St. Patrick's day fun to your lessons with the games, composing activities, and worksheets below.  


Pot of Gold Board Game 

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Shamrock Rhythms

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St. Patricks Pre-Reading and On Staff Composing



St. Patrick's Piano Keys


Count Your Leprechaun Gold


Shamrock Music Crossword


Half Steps and Whole Steps 


Leprechaun Note Naming


St. Patricks Circle of Fifths


Lucky Clover Key Signatures