JWY! Teacher Resource Blog

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 



Three Intermediate Pop Piano Solos

Posted by Merrily James on Jan 3, 2018 2:25:56 PM


Download "Hallelujah" Piano Solo

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Download "Piano Man" Piano Solo

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Download "All Of Me" Piano Solo

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Find The Mistake: Christmas Carols

Posted by Merrily James on Dec 8, 2017 2:26:27 PM


These two sets of activity cards from Pianimation, challenge students to awaken their “inner music teacher ears.”   Each card shows 8 measures of a familar Christmas melody.  On the first set of cards, each melody is printed correctly.  I handed these out to students along with a handful of small gemstone “markers.”  I played the melody, adding a few mistakes, as they followed along on the cards.  I first challenged them to drop a marker on each measure where they heard a mistake, and then played again and challenged them to drop the marker on the exact note that was missed. 

The second set of cards uses the same melodies as the first cards, but these have typos in the printed music.  Since they had just heard these songs (and they were familiar to most of the kids anyway), I challenged students to find and mark mistakes on these cards without me playing the melodies.  They had to rely on their internal hearing to compare how the song should sound with what they saw on the page and find discrepancies. 

Both versions of each song print on the same page; you’ll want to cut them apart and make sure students only get one at a time (otherwise they’ll be able to use the correctly printed version to find the typos in the second!).

Download Find My Mistake