JWY! Teacher Resource Blog


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




Valentines Day Round-Up

Posted by Merrily James on Feb 13, 2018 12:34:06 PM


Download Pre-Reading Composing PDF


Download On Staff Composing PDF



Download Steal A Heart

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Download Hearts and Clubs Notes

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Pre-Reading Valentines Songs

Primer Valentines Songs

Elementary Valentines Songs



Pre-Reading through Elementary Valentines Worksheets 

Detailed Practice Supplement 

Posted by Merrily James on Feb 2, 2018 1:51:30 PM

This chart allows you to write out a list of very specific tasks for your student. This can be helpful to use for more advanced students that tend to practice on their own. 

Download Blank Practice Chart PDF

Brag Tags

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 26, 2018 12:31:13 PM

Click Here to download Brag Tags PDF (by WunderKeys)

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Pouring on Pouring (Beginning Ear Training)

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 18, 2018 12:30:38 PM

My beginner students have been loving this eartraining game from WunderKeys. This is a great quick game to work on hearing higher and lower melodies. 

Download Pouring on Pointer Game Materials 

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One game board, one Teacher Master Sheet, 18 playing cards, 16 buttons or dimes

Game Objective:

Musical Objective: To identify sounds moving higher, sounds moving lower, and sounds staying the same

Game Objective:  To flip over as many cards as possible before the umbrella fills with rain (buttons)

Setting It Up:

The student should sit on the floor with the game board placed in front. One button should be placed over each of the 16 raindrop images on the game board. The 18 playing cards should be spread out around the game board with the “raindrop side” facing down. The teacher should be seated at the piano with the Teacher Master Sheet.

Playing the Game:

1)  The teacher begins by playing any one of the 18 measures of music on the Teacher Master Sheet. After the measure of music has been played, the teacher crosses it out using a dry erase pen.

2)  The student determines if the notes played by the teacher in Step 1 are moving higher, moving lower, or staying the same, and then turns over a playing card displaying the corresponding label. For example, if the teacher plays a measure of music with the notes moving higher, the student locates any card labelled with the word “Higher” and then turns it over. Pre-reading students can be prompted to select a card by identifying the initial letter “H”, “L”, or “S”.

3)  On the back of the selected card will be an image of a raindrop labelled with a number. The student takes a number of buttons from the raindrop images that corresponds to the number on the back of the selected card, and places the buttons over the circles on the umbrella image. For example, if the student flips over a card to reveal a “2”, the student takes two buttons from two raindrops and covers two circles on the umbrella.

4)  Next, the student removes the card selected in Step 2 from the playing area.

5)  Steps 1 - 4 are repeated until all eight circles on the umbrella image have been covered with buttons. At this point the student counts how many cards were removed from the playing area and records his score. In future games, the student attempts to beat this score.

Nuts About Birthdays - Improv Duet

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 10, 2018 1:42:05 PM

Playing the Game:

1) Print this Nuts About Birthdays Improv Pack (double-sided).
2) Have your piano students practice saying and clapping the Nuts About Birthdays phrases on the back of the improv cards. These phrases provide the rhythm your students will be using when they participate in the improv duet. Note: If you have creative kiddos who want more freedom, we have included two blank cards that can be used to create their own phrases/rhythms.
3) Have your students choose their two favorite Nuts About Birthdays improv cards.
4) With their hand in C position, have your students experiment with various combinations of notes (using only C, D, E, F and G) to match the rhythms on the cards selected in Step 3. Encourage them to continue their explorations until they decide on a preferred melody for each card.
5) Begin playing your teacher accompaniment. When your students feel ready to hop in, have them begin repeatedly playing one of the melodies they created in Step 4. Encourage your students to add in the second melody from Step 4 when they feel comfortable. Instruct your students to switch back and forth between their two melodies.
6) Once your students are jamming away without a care, have them expand on their improv skills by experimenting with more card combinations, extra notes, improv “on the fly”, harmonic intervals or chords, and articulation changes. The sky’s the limit… be creative!

Download Nuts About Birthdays Improv Duet