JWY! Teacher Resource Blog

Merrily James

Recent Posts

Music Truth or Dare

Posted by Merrily James on Mar 5, 2019 3:14:22 PM

Anyone up for a game of truth or dare?  Don’t worry… unlike the version of the game you might have played in junior high, this new musical rendition won’t require any red-faced confessions or pranks. It will give you a fun way to review note names and intervals with your students! 

This game from Pianimation challenges students to demonstrate their knowledge of theory concepts in 2 ways – by naming answers “flashcard” style (for each truth card), and by performing tasks at the piano (for each dare card).  

Level 1
Grand Staff Note Names (Bass F – Treble G)
Piano Key Names (white keys)
Steps & Skips

Level 2
Grand Staff Note Names (Bass C – Treble C)
Piano Key Names (black keys)
Intervals (2nds – 5ths) 

Level 3
Grand Staff Note Names (all lines & spaces)
Intervals (2nds – 8ths)
Whole & Half Steps 

Each level also includes a set of bonus cards that make the game adaptable for use in either a private lesson or group/classroom setting.   


To play in a private lesson setting (non-competitive):
This game can provide a fun alternative to traditional flashcards in a private lesson. Select the cards from the deck you want to use and place them in a hat or bag. Since there’s only one player involved, the only bonus cards you’ll need to include are the “treat” cards (2-3 treat cards make for a nice surprise in the middle of a bag of flashcards!).   Let your student draw cards from the hat one at a time, answering each with a “truth” or “dare.”  

Download Truth or Dare PDF 

Valentines Round-Up

Posted by Merrily James on Feb 11, 2019 12:22:06 PM



Download Valentines Songs (5 Levels)

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Download Chase My Heart Game (steps and skips)



Valentines Composing Pre-Reading


Valentines Composing On Staff


Valentines Day Cards



SuperJAM Practice Aids

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 14, 2019 11:09:39 PM

SuperJAM season is upon us, and that means asking students to practice lots of repetitions. Below are 3 practice aids to help make it fun! 

1. Have students collect signatures of each person they practice their piece from. You can even print on stickers so that the student can put it on their workbook.  

Download Showcase Signatures


2. Reward your students with 4 types of "WunderMoney" : Fantastic Focus, Marvelous Music Making, Remarkable Rhythm, and Wonderful Work.

Download WunderMoney 


3. Use punchcards for each song to encourage repetition. 

Download Punch Card PDF 


Note Reading Ruckus

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 8, 2019 12:17:58 AM

Note Reading Ruckus Game File 1

Note Reading Ruckus Game File 2

Players: 2 players

Musical Objective: To move a game marker to any square on the top row of the game board

Game Objective: To reinforce note reading in G position

Setting It Up: 

Players should sit beside one another with the game board placed in front and the deck of playing cards placed to the side. Player 1 should place his game marker on the square in the bottom row marked with a green dot and Player 2 should place her game marker on the square in the bottom row marked with a white dot.

Materials: One game board, two small game markers (buttons), 18 Note Cards

Playing The Game:

  1. Player 1 draws the top card from the deck of playing cards, names the note on the back of the card, and then performs any one of the following moves:

    1. He moves his game marker forward to the closest square containing a note name that matches the note image on the playing card.

    2. He moves his game marker to the left to the closest square containing a note name that matches the note image on the playing card.

    3. He moves his game marker to the right to the closest square containing a note name that matches the note image on the playing card.

    4. He moves his game marker backward to the closest square containing a note name that matches the note image on the playing card. This move usually represents a “last resort” option.

    5. He uses the dry erase pen to color in any square on the game board containing a note name that matches the note image on the playing card. This creates a “blocked square” that players must move around in subsequent turns.

  2. When moving his game marker in a selected direction, Player 1 must go to the closest matching square; sliding (skipping) over squares that do not match the name of the note image on the playing card.

  3. During any one turn, Player 1 may only move his game marker in a straight line. He cannot move diagonally 

A Hero Returns

Posted by Merrily James on Dec 17, 2018 1:04:37 PM


1. Teach your student the Rhythm 1, if they get it quickly teach Rhythm 2 as well. 

2. Play the piece while your student performs the rhythm

3. If the piece is an appropriate level for your student, teach them to play the piece while you perform the rhythmic parts. 

4. Leave them a copy of the rhythms so that they can perform with family and friends. 

Download A Hero Returns

A Hero Returns

A Hero Returns piece

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,