JWY! Teacher Resource Blog

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

The Entertainer.jpg

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). 

Count On Me.jpg

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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