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Piano

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Piano Activity

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, a popular English nursery rhyme, is one of the very first songs a toddler learns to sing. And it makes them so happy when they can learn to play this song on the piano. While it is not the easiest first song, it is not the most difficult. And because children already know the melody so well, their ear can help guide them to play the correct notes. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Piano Sheet Music with Letters makes this song accessible on piano to even the youngest preschoolers.

Music Alphabet and Note Names

Very young children are not ready to read music notes right away, so it is helpful to use music alphabet letters to help them play this song. Sheet music with alphabet letters give kids a visual to follow (an more importantly help parents guide their kids!)

I like to use piano keyboard letters on the piano for all young children. These visuals help them learn the groups of two and three black keys and they also see which alphabet letters line up with the black keys.

Learning Middle C

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star begins on Middle C. Middle C is the very first note many children learn. One reason is because this note is singable, and many early childhood songs begin on this note. Middle C is also a white key and many beginner songs play on white keys.

I like to play games at the piano and always ask kids to sing the sound of Middle C. We then check to see if the pitch they sing is correct by playing the note. Eventually kids DO learn the sound of Middle C and that is the beginning of developing perfect pitch.

Right Hand and Left Hand

Little children begin learning about right hand and left hand as they learn to color, draw, cut and write their name. I always look to see which hand is dominant and encourage children to start playing little piano songs with the dominant hand. But I always challenge children to learn to play with their other hand, too, so both hands fingers get strengthened.

Fingering

When teaching very young children, they are still learning how to use their fingers independently. It is easier to teach this song with only one finger. The index finger (pointer) OR middle finger are the two best fingers to begin playing piano with as young children can use the thumb to brace the knuckle joint and help develop the proper hand shape for playing piano.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a wonderful five finger piano song, but when kids start playing, using all five fingers can be a huge challenge (or even obstacle). The pinky and ring finger do not like to cooperate and so some fun finger games may be needed to get them working well (even older 7, 8, 9, and 10 year olds may struggle getting these fingers strengthened).

Patterns in Music

One of the first things I ask kids to notice are the patterns in the music. Finding patterns in sheet music helps kids see that the song may only have a couple different parts to learn. Piano lessons become less about just looking at notes and practicing long sequences of notes and more about finding “shortcuts” in songs.

For instance, you can save time by practicing the opening line of Twinkle Twinkle and learning that really well instead of playing through the whole song everytime. Also, in the middle of the song, GG FF EE D pattern repeats. Learning the different patterns of the melody help beginners practice more efficiently.

I like to play games with the patterns and ask kids to play them with different fingers! You can also ask more questions: Can you play the beginning melody notes with index finger? What about with middle finger? Can you play with the Left Hand? and so on.

Pattern identification is also essential to math skills in school. Isn’t it wonderful when we can use music to teach academics!?!

Piano Keyboard Fun

Because Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has patterns, I designed a fun little composition activity based on the many patterns you find in this song. I thought it would be fun for kids to take these patterns or notes ideas and place them in any order they’d like to create a NEW song.

Mixed Up Little Star Piano Activity

First, I recommend learning how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Young children should be comfortable playing this song well and if possible learn to play this song with the music alphabet letters. Learning where the white key music alphabet letters are in C Major will help them be able to play the little patterns for the mixed up song. It takes time for beginners to learn the music alphabet, so don’t rush this process.

Kids LOVE to create their own songs on piano. A fun little melody or a repeating jazzy rhythm is fun for kids to discover so I always look for opportunities to allow kids to MAKE their own music! Afterall, isn’t that what enjoying music is all about? And even the youngest children should be encouraged and allow this opportunity!

As a piano teacher, my goal is to help every child fall in love with making music and playing the piano. And I hope by creating these resources for parents and teachers of young children, that you too will be able to encourage kids to fall in love with music!

How do you play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano?

Piano Lessons for Parents

For those of you who need a little help knowing how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I have created a video (below) that you can use to teach yourself how to play Twinkle Twinkle piano. You don’t have to be a piano teacher to learn how to teach your kids songs they know and are excited to learn! And here are 10 ways parents can help their young children get ready for piano lessons.

Music Alphabet Sheet Music

Twinkle twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky, Twinkle twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are.


Piano Race Game

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    Develop Fine Motor Skills for Piano Lessons

    Many parents want their young children to have a head start with piano lessons. This article will show some ways parents can encourage fine motor skills for toddlers and preschoolers. I will also show you how I like to adapt early childhood education toys to develop more advanced skills that will, at the same time teaching basic piano skills.

    toddler piano lessons

    Fine Motor Skill Development

    Why is fine motor skill development important? Toddlers and preschoolers need to develop fine motor skills to be successful in school. Five fine motor skills kids need for Kindergarten include:

    • Grip
    • Name writing
    • Letter Formation
    • Number formation
    • Use of scissors
    fine motor skills

    Children build fine motor skills through a variety of childhood activities. Encouraging a child’s fine motor skills not only prepares kids for school, but also for playing the piano! You can help your child improve hand muscle strength and coordination of the fingers. is extremely important for beginners.

    What Do Fine Motor Skills Involve?

    Fine motor skills involve developing the small muscles that school aged children need for success in school. These are more complex skills that young kids need work to develop. Most kids need lots of repetition with fine motor skills. Some examples, everyday tasks, or fun activities that encourage fine motor development include:

    • dialing a phone
    • using a remote
    • using a computer mouse
    • turning doorknobs
    • buttoning and unbuttoning clothes
    • tying shoelaces
    • brushing teeth and flossing
    • using a toilet
    • picking up small objects, for example cheerioes
    • eating with utensils
    • opening and closing containers
    • turning the pages of a book
    • playing musical instruments
    • coloring
    • drawing
    • cutting construction paper
    • stacking blocks
    • finger paint
    • play dough
    • playing board games

    Fine Motor Development for Piano Lessons

    Most children will need to work on hand muscle strength, hand eye coordination, wrist stability, pincer grasp, and independence of thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger and pinky fingers. Fine motor skills develop only when kids have the opportunity to practice fine motor skills. Developing fine motor skills, as shown above, need not be isolated exercises. However, children develop these skills and refine them with parental intentionality.

    When parents approach me to teach their four or five year old, an assessment of their motor skills is one of the first things I look at to see if a child is ready for piano lessons. Often I can encourage parents to build fine motor skills at home for a while if the child’s development isn’t where it needs to be. Of course at this age, developmental milestones are individual and we need to allow kids to develop at their own pace. But the development of fine motor skills can be nurtured with daily activities and games.

    Games for Fine Motor Skills for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    There are a lot of early childhood education games that teach math skills like sorting, patterns, numbers, counting, etc. Often these games can be augmented to support learning basic musical concepts needed in piano lessons because there is math in music.

    Sneaky Mouse Card Game

    sneaky mouse fine motor skill game

    Sneaky Mouse Game is an augmented game based on the Last Mouse Lost Game. The Sneaky Mouse cards help develop finger independence and also teach the finger numbers for piano lessons. You can check out this blog post and watch this Youtube video for more information about this game. It’s even fun for beginners age 5-8 years old.

    Muffin Music Game

    Muffin Music Game is an augmented game based on the Learning Resources’ Mini Muffin Match Game. Squeezie tweezers will strengthen the hand muscles. Colors, numbers, and sorting are all educational features of the game. And this game easily turns itself into a preschool piano game as Music Muffin Game highlights note values: quarter note = 1, half note = 2, dotted half note = 3, and whole note = 4 counts.

    See how to play Muffin Music Match!

    What if my child isn’t ready?

    Every child progresses at their own pace. Activities that include a lot of movement (gross motor skills) are also age appropriate and often more fun if your child struggles with the more complex fine motor skills. I always recommend group music classes or online classes (Like my online class with Beethoven, the adorable, pancake lovin’ sheep dog!) to help teach basic musical concepts that will also help prepare your child for piano lessons!

    If this sounds like something you and your child are interested in, then check out my free music class here!

    online toddlers music class

    Get your FREE Music Mini-Class

    Your toddler or preschooler will love this Music Mini-Class.  Join me and Beethoven, an adorable pancake loving sheepdog as we sing, dance and play together!

    Ocean Sleep Music to Help You Fall Asleep Fast

    This ocean sleep music video and blog post has been created to help MrBeast in an effort to clean 30 MILLION pounds of trash out of our world’s oceans before the end of 2021. Please help in this effort at #TeamSeas.

    Ocean Sounds and Beautiful Music

    ocean sleep music

    Fall into a deep sleep with ocean sounds and beautiful music. This relaxing music will help you unwind so you can fall asleep quickly. This sleep music ocean waves is one hour of soothing and peaceful music that is perfect for naptime, bedtime, meditation, prayer, study music or just background music for chilling out.

    Check out this blog post for more lullabies that calm and put your baby to sleep OR this blog post with 50 gentle sleeping songs for kids that you probably have never heard before! These are all great resources to have on your device for instant access!

    Follow Music Time Kid Youtube channel for more videos created for relaxing, peaceful atmosphere for bedtime or relaxing.


    High Tide Calm Music

    Deep Sleep Music for Everyday

    Check out the Calm and Relaxing Music for Parents Playlist on Youtube. This youtube play list provides several hours of relaxing and soothing music. It’s the perfect playlist to add to your device for naptimes, car rides, study time and bedtime.

    Also follow us on Facebook.

    Tuck Me Into Bed Music

    “Tuck me into bed,” most kids beg! But bedtime is probably one of the biggest struggles for parents. They wonder, “How do I get …
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    Join the Music Time Kid Community!

    Now you can download a FREE piano game that I play with EVERY piano student at their first lessons. It’s my way of thanking you for joining the Music Time Kid Community where you can expect to receive more amazing content that is created just for parents and teachers of young children. Easy to understand instructions and videos will help you teach basic music concepts to your child at home!

    Get My First Preschool Piano Game for free!

    Do you want your child to learn preschool piano?

    This is the first game I play with every one of my students. Now you can play at home!

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      How Parents Can Support Their Preschoolers When They Take Piano Lessons

      I am excited to share this Guest Blog Post with you! Thank you to Liz, from Modern Musical Parenting for writing this article for the Music Time Kid community. I know you will get so much help as you read her 5 tips for parents.

      Piano Lessons for Preschoolers: 5 Tips for Parents to Help Their Child Succeed

      Have you ever thought about enrolling your toddler or preschooler in piano lessons? Or any music lessons for that matter? Perhaps, voice, violin, or guitar?

      Well, you definitely aren’t alone in wanting to introduce your young child to music through lessons! In fact, while only 34% of children aged 6-7 years old’s are taking lessons, that number increases to 50% for 8-10 year olds![1]

      piano lessons for preschoolers

      Now, that percentage of children enrolled in lessons will decrease as children get older, but  many of those children continue to play instruments. So, lessons can be a wonderful tool to help your child learn to read music, which can then be carried on in later years. By enrolling your preschooler in lessons, you are giving them a solid foundation to continue in music.

      Maybe your preschooler is already enrolled in piano lessons. Most piano teachers see an increase of student interest right around the start of the school year. So, if your preschooler has been going to lessons now for a few weeks, you might be wondering just how you can support them!

      So, before we take a look at how you as a parent can encourage, support, and help your child in their musical endeavors, let’s take a look at some of the important questions regarding piano lessons and your preschooler.

      What kinds of piano lessons for preschoolers are there?

      In short, lessons are a particularly wonderful way to introduce your child to music. And many parents are familiar with the traditional type of lessons where their child will work 1-to-1 with a teacher. But for younger children, especially preschoolers, 1-to-1 lessons might not be the best for your child.

      That’s where the different types of lessons come into play!

      Group Lessons

      Many parents opt for group piano lessons, particularly with younger children. Group lessons offer the benefit of playing and learning with a small group of similarly aged children. This is particularly helpful to younger children because they can learn together as well as from each other.

      Plus, in those group lessons, the parents are typically required (or sometimes just encouraged) to sit with their child. So, you are learning right along with them, and this is wonderful support – again, particularly for preschoolers.

      And yet another advantage of the group piano lessons is that they usually occur with keyboards. Keyboards are a much more accessible instrument for younger children, especially consider the overwhelming size of even an upright piano. And many more households can access keyboards more readily than pianos. So, all around, these are quite a good option for young children.

      Child & Parent Lessons

      Another option for piano lessons is that you both take lessons from the same teacher at the same time! It’s a slight variation on the 1-to-1 lessons but your teacher will work with both of you at the same time. Perhaps, you would like to remember how to read music or would just like to know the basics. Either way, taking these types of 2-to-1 lessons with your teacher is another perfect example of the types of lessons available to your child (and you!).

      One-on-One Lessons

      If you do decide to start with 1-to-1 lessons for your child, the Music Teacher’s National Association has a few questions to ask your teacher before you start with music lessons. These kinds of questions can help you find a good teacher for your child.


      Why are piano lessons so highly recommended over other instruments for preschoolers?

      Now, I’ll be honest. I’m a bit biased because I am a pianist myself! I do think that learning piano holds some advantages over other instruments for beginners. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Just take a look at these advantages that the piano offers over other instruments!

      However, the main reason I suggest piano (and with that, I also mean the keyboard as well) for preschoolers is that this particular instrument can produce tuned pitches with the push of a finger. All other instruments will require the learner to listen and tune a pitch – something most preschoolers cannot yet do without some practice.

      And while listening is an important skill for anyone learning about music, it can be a challenge for such young learners. So, your preschooler can learn simple melodies, like “Hot Cross Buns” or “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” without having to learn about tuning. And, this can give them the confidence to continue in music.

      How can I find piano lessons for preschoolers near me?

      One of the easiest ways to find a recommended piano teacher near you, is to ask your local friends or family for any recommendations! Don’t be afraid to ask those in your local community, like at churches, community centers, and in the neighborhood. Those with a good reputation are generally always highly recommended by their students’ parents.

      Another way is to search online for a music teacher through the Music Teacher’s National Association website. You can search for teachers of all instruments (from accordion to woodwinds!) and easily see how close they are to you, whether they are accredited teachers, and how best to contact them.

      Don’t be afraid to reach out at any time of year. They will generally let you know quickly if their studio is full and whether you can be placed on a waiting list.


      Now, with all of this information at hand, let’s take a look at the top 5 tips and suggestions for encouraging your child to continue in their piano lessons. These are easy for any parent to do, regardless of your own musical upbringing.

      Tip #1: Find the right type of music lesson for your preschooler.

      parent and preschooler

      As outlined above, you can see that these days there are many types of music lessons for young children. You can consider if your child is a bit more social, or perhaps they are always shy with other children around.

      Now, another benefit of group lessons is that the parents are asked to attend (at the very least) and sometimes even help their children. This gives you are particularly good opportunity to engage with them and learn right along with them!

      Once you’ve found a music lesson for you child, make sure you talk to them about it! Ask them what they like about those lessons. Ask them what they dislike about those lessons! Once of the best ways is to find out from them what they think.

      Tip #2: Build connections between music and other topics.

      Now, perhaps I’m a bit partial with this particular tip. But, I do feel that as soon as we can show our children that music is not it’s own unique bubble, they start seeing and hearing it everywhere! They can hear the rhythmic patterns in words. They can be reminded of a song when a bird sings or they see pumpkins. Or perhaps they can even remember how to count backwards from 5 with the help of a song!

      preschooler playing

      Most often, you’ll see how music can help your young children with math and language skills. Counting songs help your child learn number sequences, while the rhymes, alliterations, and rhythmic texts of nursery rhymes and children’s songs help them learn the basics of language.

      Just take a look at the 30 ways you can engage your child with a single song! These activities include other musical activities, math activities, language activities, and others. You can also use these activities with any children’s song. And chance are, one of the first melodies your child will learn on the piano is a well-known children’s song, like “Hot Cross Buns” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

      Tip #3: Engage your child with music outside and beyond their lessons!

      Despite what style of music lesson your preschooler is taking, learning more about music outside their lesson will be incredibly beneficial. And for this particular tip, there are two simple ways to do this.

      First, consider playing simple games that reinforce the concepts they are learning. Music Match and Memory Games are an excellent choice for reinforcing musical concepts your child might be learning! There are even a few different ways to play musical memory depending on your child’s age. 

      Second, play a wide variety of music for your preschooler! It doesn’t have to be just classical music or just children’s songs.  A mixture of all kinds of music will work well. Throw in some of your own favorite tunes and tell them why you like that song. Try to fully experience the music you are listening to by talking about it, dancing to it, or even just sitting and listening together!

      Think of listening to music like reading to your child. You wouldn’t only read them Shakespeare! You’ll read many different types of books, like picture books, story books, short poems and nursery rhymes, and even a snippet of what you are reading sometimes! Mixing it up makes it interesting for them, as well.

      Tip #4: Help to make their practice part of their daily (or almost daily) routine.

      One of the most important things to remember with practicing, especially for preschoolers, is that short, regular practice sessions are best. Even 5-10 minutes once a day will work well. You really can’t expect a young child to sit focused for more than that. And, you (and the teacher) are likely to see more progress with these short, daily practice sessions when compared to 30 minutes once a week outside lessons!

      Also remember that practicing does not have to occur at the piano! And it also doesn’t mean simply playing a song they are learning from beginning to end. Practice can also be done away from the piano.

      Try having them “play” their piece they are learning while sitting at the table and playing an imaginary piano. Or have them sing the song to you. Or even tell you the note names that they play. There are many ways to get them to think about their music even when they are not sitting at the piano. If you want other ideas, just ask your child’s teacher for other ideas.

      You could also take a few minutes time to sit with them while they practice, especially when they practice at the piano. This will help them realize that you are there for support and enjoy hearing them practice and play. Have them show you or play for you what they learned in their last lesson. Your support and interest will be amazing for them.

      Tip #5: Ask yourself why you are enrolling your preschooler in lessons and be sure to communicate that to your child’s teacher.

      There are a multitude of reasons why you might want to enroll your child in piano lessons. And, without a doubt, piano lessons can help your child in a multitude of ways!

      preschool piano lessons

      But you do have to be honest with yourself about why you are enrolling them in music lessons. You’ll want your child to show interest in music. Otherwise, it will seem like a constant battle to engage them with their music and to even have fun at lessons! So, if music isn’t part of your regular routine, then your preschooler might not be that interested.

      Your child will generally show interest in music by singing songs they have learned, creating rhythmic patterns by hitting objects together, or dancing to a song they particularly enjoy. By engaging with them when they are making, listening to, and dancing to music, you are showing them that music is also a source of enjoyment for you, too!

      Also important to remember: if one of the main motivators is because you wish you had lessons when you were younger or that you regret that you stopped your lessons, then consider one of the other lesson formats mentioned above (like, the group lessons or the parent-child lessons). In any case, ask your teacher! Maybe they’d be willing to try a 2-on-1 lesson.

      Communication with your child’s piano teacher is key. You’ll want them to know your child’s likes and dislikes, as well. This can certainly help shape the lessons for your child.

      And with that, my readers, you now have 5 tips that you – the parents – can use to help your preschooler enjoy, progress, and succeed in their piano lessons. Don’t forget that you play a crucial role in the development – particularly in these first few years.

      Happy music making,

      Liz

      Liz Hepach

      Liz Hepach is the creator over at Modern Musical Parenting, where she creates all kinds of printables and games, specifically designed for parents who want to engage their children with music. She believes that all parents – regardless of their musical background – can have a profound impact on their own child musically. For more information of the multitude of ways you can engage your child musically, make sure to check out her blog or signup for the MMP newsletter and get access to all the free printables in the Resource Library.

      Can Preschoolers Play Songs on Piano?

      play songs on piano

      Yes! Preschoolers can play songs on the piano. Most kids at this age are not able to play basic chords, but they can play melodies with their left hand or right hand. They are eager to learn piano and try to figure out how to play easy piano songs they already know. So let’s take a look at preschool piano playing to discover ways you can help your preschooler play the piano today!

      What piano playing skills do preschoolers have?

      1. Eagerness to learn – More than anything else, the desire to play easy piano songs means kids can learn!
      2. Seeing patterns – Preschoolers are taught to see patterns in math and this translates well to piano
      3. Gross motor skills – Moving their body, stepping, moving arms to the beat of a song, and clapping rhythms are all things preschoolers love to do!
      4. Fine motor skills – Kids are developing their fine motor skills at this age. So often kids will play piano with whatever fingers they have that will work for them. This is fine. As they learn piano, more fingers will strengthen and will get used.
      5. Learning to differentiate the right hand and left hand – Often when kids start playing piano they have trouble differentiating the left hand from the right. It’s okay. We can find ways to help them with this at this age.
      6. Listening ear – When kids play easy piano songs they already know, like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, their ear will help guide them to play. Sometimes they may need to figure one note out and their ear may help them hear if the note should be higher or lower. Playing easy piano songs kids know is so helpful in the beginning.
      7. One finger – Kids always have one finger they can play piano with. In fact, several of the first handful of songs I teach only use the pointer finger. This let’s kids focus on other things than the fact that their fingers need to exercise more.
      8. Imagination – Kids love to pretend and use their imagination all the time. Creativity is so important. Playing their own songs is good practice right from the start. I’ve never had a piano student give up once they have become a master of playing their own compositions!
      play songs on piano with one finger

      A few songs most preschoolers know

      Pop Songs

      Kids are always eager to play a favorite popular song that they know. Kids today love the “Baby Shark” song

      Traditional Songs and Nursery Rhymes

      Happy Birthday

      Jingle Bells

      Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

      Itsy Bitsy Spider

      Patriotic Songs

      Yankee Doodle

      5 Easy songs to learn with one finger on the piano for beginners

      Because learning piano finger numbers may be difficult for preschoolers, here are one finger songs. And if you are interested in learning how to teach “rote music” to a beginner check out my youtube video. (That means teaching by imitation without reading any sheet music).

      Hot Cross Buns

      This song is great to teach on the group of three black notes or on the white keys C-D-E. The video below has a fun learning activity with a free pdf download for “Sweet Treat Cards” which provide other words to this song. The cards are a fun springboard into getting kids to be creative!

      Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

      Kids love the Mixed-Up Little Star activity that is linked in the video below. Without actually making up their own song, kids can mix up the melody to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, creating their own song. It’s lots of fun!

      Itsy Bitsy Spider

      This article provides lots of ideas for teaching Itsy Bitsy Spider song.. The sheet music provides music alphabet letters so kids can learn to play the notes to this song without actually reading rhythmic notes. This simplifies the learning in the very beginning!

      Charlie the Chipmunk

      Learn this song by rote and then teach it to your child! I love using videos for reminders. It helps you remember where to place your hand on the piano and which piano notes were played.

      I Love Coffee

      Your child may not know this song, but I guarantee it will become a favorite! Playing one note at a time, this song has lots of little patterns using black key/white key patterns that make it easy to learn. Practice only one part at a time. Only add an additional part when the previous part is securely learned! (BONUS: the little ending of each part is the same, always ending on the black note f-sharp).


      What kind of sheet music is right for preschoolers?

      It depends upon each child. I have taught so many preschoolers and each child is unique. Some kids have a difficult time sitting still long enough to play a one finger song at the piano, while others are mastering note reading and playing from books. And remember, a preschooler’s attention span is the same number of minutes as their age. So don’t expect practice sessions to last more than 5-10 minutes at a time.

      You definitely can’t go wrong by making music reading fun and easy for kids. So no matter what abilities your child has, please let them have fun. Don’t push progress too fast at the expense of your child’s enjoyment. I’ve seen kids quit because playing the piano was too hard, and even later, they never got over the fact that piano was just too hard.

      So knowing that kids this age are still pre-readers, let’s just say, you can’t go wrong offering them rote music (teaching by imitation), pre-reading music which includes music alphabet sheet music, play by color song sheets, play by finger numbers (which assumes kids know finger numbers and where to place their hands on the piano), and pre-reading notes with rhythm notes.

      I have taught from all of these kinds of music pages and it’s okay to mix, match, jumble it up, and find what works. As long as the song is something a child already knows, learning a song off a page of music usually works pretty well with adult help.

      I feel strongly about NOT pushing note reading at this age when there are still so many fun activities kids can have that lay a great foundation for learning to read notes on the staff in a few years. Check out this easy preschool piano lesson game here.

      Why is listening to music so important?

      Kids can easily learn songs they already know. So when they begin piano lessons they take right off playing songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb on the black keys, learning finger exercises, finding different five finger notes in C Major, playing piano games and more.

      But when they begin to learn to read sheet music and advance to higher levels many kids hit a roadblock because they are now learning to play unfamiliar music and classical music. Many kids have never listened to this kind of music, and unfamiliar music isn’t as easy to play.

      Let’s fix that! I can recommend songs your kids should be exposed to while they are still young. This is just the tip of an iceberg, but it’s a great place to start,

      Listen to these songs long before your child is ready to start playing them

      This is a plethora of music links. Add some to your child’s playlist. Play the songs in the car, while you are sitting quietly doing other things, or before it’s time to go to sleep. Then when your child is older, they will KNOW these songs too and not only popular songs!

      Bach’s Prelude in C Major

      Bach’s Prelude in C Major is a study of chords. Once kids learn how to play chords, this song becomes easy to learn because it is made up entirely of broken chords (notes of a chord played one at a time). Because the rhythm is so repetitive through out the song older kids can to play this piece. It is completely composed of basic chords.

      This version is a harp sound version and is a wonderful addition to a naptime playlist.

      Here is even a guitar version of this song. You will see that the right thumb always plays the first note of the chord and the other fingers play the other pieces of the chord. I think this tune sounds just beautiful on the guitar too!

      Bobby McFerrin jazz version is where he is actually singing the broken chords! This is a fun video to listen to!

      Mozart Sonata in C K.545 (Allegro)

      This version is set to a forest sound background and a quieter, almost harp like quality. Perfect for adding to a naptime playlist.

      This version is also soft and harp like.

      Handel

      This is one of my favorite newer arrangements of Handel’s Suite No. 7, g minor, HWV 432 (Piano Cover for arrangement by J. Halvorsen)

      Handel is well known for his Water Music. This video is Handel’s Water Music for piano.

      This has child friendly sounds of Handel’s water music. My kids were well acquainted with this music as they were avid Baby Einstein Music Video lovers.

      

      Beethoven: Für Elise

      Fur Elise is one of most loved and favorite songs for piano. Kids love the melody of Fur Elise, and many of my piano students practice hard to get to this level so they can play the whole song.

      This version has music box sounds.

      Debussy’s Clair de Lune

      Kids love the imagery of the moon shining in the night. This song has great potential for extended learning including learning about nocturnal animals and moon phases.

      nature sounds and electronic piano version

      Here is a lullaby version

      Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite

      Most people think of the Christmas Season when they hear Nutcracker music. I do too! Many of the little songs in the Nutcracker Suite are playable for beginners, so this is a great collection to listen to! Plus there are lot of easy arrangements of sheet music for this music!

      This video features nutcracker tunes that sound music box-like. Normally I am not a huge fan of music box music but I think it is a great thing with the nutcracker music.

      How can I add classical music to my child’s life?

      There are lots of arrangements and performances of old classic piano songs. As you can see above, searching Youtube fives you many piano song variations to choose from. Creating playlists is a wonderful way to add piano songs to your child’s life. Listen in the morning, while you ride in the car, before it is time to sleep, or while you are doing other things as it is great background music.

      Listening to music helps babies’ brain development according to Mercy Health website. And it is never too late or too early to begin to incorporate listening to music into your child’s life!

      What if my child is still too young?

      No worries… all kids are different! If your child is still too young to sit for a few moments and pay attention, then there are so many other kinds of musical activities that you can do with your child to actually prepare your child to play piano. Go to my blog post, “10 Ways to Get Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons.”

      And while you are at it… grab my free game below. Piano Race Game is the first game I play with every single piano student. I know your preschooler will love it!

      Get My First Preschool Piano Game for free!

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        Learning About Patterns is Easy with Music!

        As a piano teacher, I have discovered the secret to helping kids memorize music is in learning about the patterns in the music. Have you ever noticed kids who are not confident? Many times they approach learning bit by bit, one by one, random notes. But when kids begin to notice patterns in music, they take off at lightening speed and never slow down.

        What are the Early Math Skills?

        This article from the preschool plan it website states, “Children use math all day long! 

        During every activity from counting the steps they climb, to sorting blocks and stating “there are more red ones”, to separating the carnivores from the herbivores (for the dinosaurs’ own safety of course!), children are using math.

        Knowing the math skills your preschoolers are developing and should be developing will help you plan math across your curriculum and throughout your classroom.

        16 Basic Preschool Math Concepts

        16 of the basic preschool math concepts are:

        • Observation
        • Problem Solving
        • Language
        • One-to-One Correspondence
        • Number Sense
        • Shapes
        • Spatial Sense
        • Sets and Classifying
        • Ordering/Seriation
        • Comparing
        • Patterning
        • Counting
        • Measurement
        • Parts and Wholes
        • Numbers and Symbols
        • Graphing

        Preschool math concepts overlap and are interrelated with preschool science concepts. In the field of Mathematics, the skills of classifying, comparing and measuring are referred to as Math Concepts. In the field of science, these skills are referred to as Process Skills.”

        How Music Relates to Preschool Math Skills

        Music relates to early math skills in multiple ways. Children can find patterns in rhythms, patterns in melodies, patterns with finger numbers at the piano, and more. Music is full of patterns. Patterns can be visual (see), aural (hear), or kinesthetic (move) and thus musical patterns help every student learn in their preferred learning style. Because discovering patterns is something that kids develop as they prepare for the the classroom, learning patterns in music helps reinforce this concept for preschoolers.

        Young children do not usually have the background to associate the meaning of a music note to the note itself, so in teaching patterns, I find it is helpful for teachers and parents to use images to teach patterns. For instance, children love animals. Learning how to identify a pattern using animals is a great teaching tool. These animal cards make a great piano game!

        For example, you can teach basic rhythm and patterns with a fun, hands-on pattern activity like the Animal Lovers Short & Long Rhythm Activity. This resource has pictures of animals. Each picture represents a short sound or a long sound. Kids learn how to see, hear and feel patterns by looking at pictures they are familiar with in their daily lives.

        Notice, I mentioned music can teach in three learning styles… visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. Below you will find more teaching ideas that provide more information on the benefits of teaching kids in multiple learning styles.

        Learning About Patterns

        Many products on the market that help children learn about simple patterns focus on visual patterns. They may ask children to identify shape patterns, number patterns, color patterns and the like. They ask children to practice and understand patterns by finding patterns, completing patterns, and making patterns. Identifying patterns is very important before kids move into more advanced math concepts.

        However, music has a huge advantage over regular math education because music can meet different learning styles of young children. Not all children learn visually. Patterning skills can be taught kinesthetically with music as children move, clap, or play musical instruments to rhythmic patterns. Repeating, echoing, or clapping back a pattern allows children who are great aural learners to hear a pattern and demonstrate understanding. Because music can help teach patterning skills in fun ways, young children enjoy these math lessons.

        Teach Patterns Visually

        I personally prefer to stay away from pre k pages while teaching patterns. This is because I know kids love to create patterns themselves. Having tangible objects, like blocks (which may have different shapes or colors), legos (ditto), or other small toys that kids can move around, allows them to not only identify or complete patterns, but allows them to create patterns which ultimately demonstrates their mastery of the concept. Tangible objects also involves some movement which is kinesthetic in nature.

        I love turning the tables on the young child and ask them to be the teacher. I have them create patterns that I will complete and they will check to see if I did it correctly. Kids love this!

        Ways to Teach Visual Patterns

        Art Activities can be a fun way to teach visual patterns. For example, this Rainbow Art Activity allows children to color patterns or glue objects onto paper in order to create visual color patterns. This is learning through play! Children learn to instantly see patterns in this fun activity.

        Colorful blocks are another great visual used for teaching patterns. Red, blue, and yellow are the basic colors preschoolers are learning and using color which preschoolers are already familiar with is helpful in teaching patterns.

        Little Pom-Poms from the dollar store can be used in a muffin tin or egg carton to create patterns. Picking up the little pom-poms also helps develop fine motor skills which helps kids get ready for piano lessons.

        Duplo blocks are a learning toy that children just love. When my own kids were preschoolers they loved learning how to sort, count and create patterns with them from the time they were 18 months old. I see this again with my grandkids!

        Teach Patterns Aurally

        Teaching patterns using sound is teaching patterns aurally. Some kids learn best when they can hear things, so when we teach kids with sound patterns, some children have a better understanding than they would if only visuals were used.

        Ways to Teach Aural Patterns

        Some learning activities that teach patterns through sound are:
        – Drums and other percussion instruments (when beating out the rhythms kids can be learning how to count each pattern)
        – Movement learning activities using music (walking, skipping, hopping, clapping, and so on)
        – Clapping learning games (Songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” teach a two clap pattern at the end of each musical phrase. You have to listen to hear this, but then the movement also adds another learning style!)
        – Repetitive Songs like Baby Shark have a repetitive rhythm that kids love to sing. This song is easy to teach to toddlers. For more ideas on favorite songs I use in early childhood music classes you can click here and here.

        Teach Patterns Kinesthetically

        Moving to music, clapping, playing instruments is learning kinesthetically.  Kids can learn to move their bodies with the music and experience different patterns. Many teachers do not encourage kids to move while they learn. Most education happens by sitting still. But I firmly believe that preschoolers learn by moving. So teaching math using music gives kids a better hands-on approach and reinforces basic math in fun ways.

        Ways to Teach Kinesthetic Patterns

        Moving or marching to the rhythm of a song. The classic rock song “We Will Rock You” is an example of a song that has a repeating short-short-long pattern to it. Jingle Bells has the same pattern! Guess what!?! If you listen to your playlist I bet you will find more patterns. What songs do you already listen to with your child that have patterns that repeat? Sometimes there are even two patterns in a song. That’s a fun discovery!

        I also love to play a fun echo game. I will clap or move to a rhythm and kids will repeat what I do. Make sure they don’t change the tempo (the basic beat) on you! Some kids love to speed things up. Make sure their echo is a match!

        Teach Kids in Ways that Motivate Them

        Kids love music! Let’s face it… when you add music to any kind of task, it is more fun. This is no exception in child development and patterning skills. What young child… baby, toddler, preschooler, or kindergarten kid isn’t excited to beat the drum or march around the room? When I have taught early childhood classes for the preschool classroom every child is delighted to make music! They eagerly echo patterns, clap to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and practice ringing bells to the well known rhythm of Jingle Bells (short, short, long) without educational purposes. They just naturally do it! So help them discover the patterns in that! Because, kids love hands-on everything when it comes to music!

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        Learning Piano Fingers Number is Fun for Kids!

        piano fingers number

        Do you have a child that wants to learn how to play piano? If so, you know that they are going to need to learn the piano fingers number on their hands for playing notes. Piano fingering can be quite frustrating for kids as it is difficult to develop the finger coordination and finger independence that they need. In addition when the hands are at the piano keyboard, the finger numbers go in opposite directions. This can be confusing even for older beginners. In this blog post, we will talk about ways in which parents and teachers can teach piano finger numbers in fun ways so that children are more likely to remember them! Let’s get kids ready for piano lessons!

        Piano Fingers Number

        You have five fingers! So you will count from one to five on each hand beginning with your thumb. The thumb is number one, index finger is two, middle finger is three, ring finger is four, and pinky finger is five.

        finger numbers

        Mirror Images

        When you put your hands together you can practice wiggling your thumbs, wiggling pointer, and so on. You can play a little piano game imitating what you want the student to do. With your hands together and wiggling finger one (your thumb) ask, “Where is finger number one?” and have the student copy you by wiggling the thumb and they will say “Here is finger number one.”

        Kids love playing this game! Make sure to keep a steady rhythm as you speak and make sure the student copies with a steady rhythm too! You can try to trick them by wiggling the same finger more than once, or skipping the fingers And you can also let them be the teacher and ask you where a finger number is. They will need to check to make sure you wiggle the correct finger!

        Finger Number Direction

        You will notice that when you open your hands up to play the piano the finger number for each finger is a mirror image (they go in opposite directions).

        Because children are taught to read from left to right, this really confuses them because the Left Hand finger numbers don’t read from left to right. The left hand fingering moves right to left.

        Remembering the left hand finger numbers move right to left becomes increasingly important when kids are ready to play in a five finger position (using all five fingers with each finger placed over one piano key).

        How do you know which fingers to use when playing piano?

        When you learn to read music, the finger numbers are often written into the music. If they are not, the piano teacher will generally write the finger numbers into the music score. Most piano teachers don’t like music filled with finger numbers because they want to teach piano students how to read the music notes and music that is filled with finger numbers is considered a crutch.

        However, for young beginners, learning to read finger numbers is very important, so it is wonderful to use some pre-reading materials to teach this! Helping kids identify the Right Hand, Left Hand, and finger numbers move in contrary motion takes a lot of time to understand when beginning piano students are playing the piano.

        It’s also important to bridge new ideas with things kids already know, so using songs with actions, like “Where is Thumbkin,” is helpful.

        Here is a video showing how early beginners can play with only one piano finger.

        Five Finger Position

        Beginning piano books introduce a few songs that do not need to play all five fingers. The younger the student, the more important this kind of music is. I believe most piano teachers look for more of this music for very young kids because music books pretty move quickly into note reading.

        Toddlers and preschoolers are usually not ready to play in five finger positions as their hands are smaller and they need to develop a relaxed arm, stronger fingers, and finger independence.

        So when I first teach toddlers and preschoolers, I allow them to play with the fingers they are most comfortable with and we practice strengthening the ones they don’t like to use.

        Eventually, with enough games, fun activities, and rote music, they will develop their five finger position. Just keep in mind that a three or four year old, it could take several years for this to happen and that is okay!

        Piano Fingering

        Here is a downloadable pdf piano finger chart. Feel free to print this and use this at the piano with your student as a kind of cheat sheet. Kids will eventually memorize the finger numbers for the correct piano hand position for each of the major five finger hand positions.

        Piano Keys Letters for Beginners

        Click here to get this free PDF!

        Pre-reading Songs for Piano Lessons

        Pre-reading songs provide notes off the music staff. I use pre-reading music with all beginners so we can learn how to read rhythms, piano fingering, hand position and fix any bad habits that might develop.

        With pre-reading music notes with stems pointing up will be right hand notes, and notes with stems pointing down will be left hand notes. Sometimes I will circle groups of right hand or left hand notes into little bubbles. Kids can practice these bubbles by themselves and then when they are good at each bubble they can practice playing the song.

        Practicing these little bubbles helps them develop muscle memory (their fingers know where to go) and allows them to play tiny parts of the song without being overwhelmed.

        Rote Music for Piano Lessons

        Providing rote music (music that is played by imitation and not note reading) allows students to learn many concepts like finger numbers and keyboard geography (where the notes are located on the piano) without the requirement of note reading.

        Although some newer piano methods encourage rote music so students can learn to identify patterns, and play bigger sounding music all over the piano without reading notes, it may be hard to find a piano teacher who actually encourages this kind of creativity and learning.

        keyboard and finger numbers

        Hand Positions and White Keys

        The first note most students learn is middle C. And the first five notes most kids learn is a five note C Major scale. Middle C is easy to identify because it is just to the left of two black keys. The right hand thumb plays on Middle C, pointer finger is a step higher on D, middle finger is a step higher on E, ring finger is a step higher on F and pinky finger is a step higher on G.

        C Major piano fingers

        Hand Positions and Black Keys

        There are groups of two black keys and groups of three black keys. Many little beginner songs can be played on just two notes or three notes. The most important thing to remember is that the black keys are easy for kids to identify. So I start preschoolers on the black keys and not the white keys for the first several lessons.

        We can begin learning about the music alphabet at the same time as playing on the black keys, but general guidelines for many piano primers focus on black keys first.

        Use Finger Names Instead of Piano Finger Numbers to Begin

        Toddlers and Preschoolers may have a difficult time with finger numbers because they may not even understand the basic names of the fingers yet. So learning finger names is a really important foundation to lay.

        Playing games that ask kids to find middle fingers, pinky, thumbs, ring fingers and so on are a fun way to help kids learn piano fingerings.

        Use Ordinal Numbers to Identify Fingers

        Ordinal numbers for finger numbers are first, second, third, fourth, and fifth fingers. Making sure students understand that the thumb is finger one and is also the first finger is important. Five Busy Honey bees (video below) is an example of a song that uses ordinal numbers.

        What is fingerplay?

        piano fingers numbers

        Finger play is moving arms, hands and fingers to short rhymes, stories, or songs. Kids learn many finger plays, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider, when they are very young. Finger plays help develop gross motors skills (like arm and hand movements) and fine motor skills (more detailed finger movement).

        What about Fingerplay in Piano Lessons?

        Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy fingerplay as a part of their piano lessons. Finger play activities help kids make the correlation between something they already know and the piano. These fingerplays are also helpful in providing the repetition kids ages 3-8 need.

        “Open Shut Them”

        “Here is Beehive”

        Get your free piano finger number activity

        “Itsy Bitsy Spider”

        “One Little Finger”

        “Where is Thumbkin”

        “Baby Shark”

        “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”

        “Five Busy Bumble Bees”

        “Baby Bumble Bee”

        “I Built a Little Snowman”

        Fun Finger Number Piano Games

        There are piano learning games that make piano playing a little more fun for kids. These games can be used as an extension of piano lessons or they may be played at home with parents or by the child on their own!

        Piano Activity: Fidget Spinner Finger Builder

        Play Doh and the Hokey Pokey

        Sneaky Mouse Game

        Five FIngers Game

        five fingers game

        Five Fingers piano game will leave beginning students wanting more… more piano lessons!
        Students have several ways to play this Five Fingers Piano Game.  The most exciting variation has students rolling the dice as fast as they can to be the first to cover all their hands.  They can also race against the clock.  Or multiple players may take turns to see who can be the first to go out.  Fun and easy game to add to a piano lesson.  Kids learn/reinforce Right Hand, Left Hand, Finger Numbers, Counting, and Counting on dice.

        The First Fingers for Young Students

        In this video a new student is learning a song with left hand fingers 2 and 3. Notice how the first knuckle joints collapse. The student starts to notice at the end of the clip and you will see an attempt to correct this.

        Pointer Finger

        Finger 2 is the easiest finger for kids to play on the piano. Songs like Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Charlie Chipmunk, I Love Coffee, and so many more can be played with only the pointer finger.

        Lesson plans that teach a student to play an entire song in one lesson make kids feel so accomplished! They can leave their very first piano lesson with a song they can share with their family and friends.

        Middle Finger

        Finger 3 is not as strong as the pointer finger, so I generally have the student put their thumb behind the first knuckle joint to the finger stays curved and doesn’t collapse (like in the video above).

        The middle finger can play all the same songs that pointer finger can play, so it is good to go back and play those songs again using the middle finger.

        Ring Finger

        The ring finger is the most difficult finger for young children to use. This is normal because of how the tendons for the ring and pinky finger are connected in the hand.

        Fingers rarely move in isolation and so this generally works itself out as kids begin playing songs, playing games, and building finger strength.

        I like to add in the ring finger to pointer and middle finger after those fingers are playing songs well. Ring finger is difficult so I look for ways to minimize it’s use while actually allowing it to play.

        Conclusion

        In conclusion, I want to encourage you! Learning the piano fingers number takes time. It’s okay to write some finger numbers into your sheet music. It’s okay to let kids learn to play piano using piano fingering. And just know… note reading will also come along in the journey as young students get older.

        Let’s meet young students where they can shine! Where they can feel good about making music and sharing their musical talent with friends and family. Play games, use finger plays, learn some rote music, learn some easy piano songs with pre-reading song sheets.

        And if you’d like to get my favorite FIRST piano game I play with every new student, be sure to join the Music Time Kid community below! I know you will have so much fun playing this game and you’ll be surprised how much learning can be taught with just one game! Enjoy!

        Get My First Preschool Piano Game for free!

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        This is the first game I play with every one of my students. Now you can play at home!

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          Practice Chart: Piano Preschool Lessons

          Discover how having the right practice chart for piano can turn kids who are bored into kids who love to play piano!

          Kids love music! And preschoolers are eager little students who love the fun activities in piano lessons. But practicing at home can be a struggle for a few reasons:

          Frog Theme Practice Chart for Piano

          1. Parents are unsure what their child should do in practice
          2. Parents may not be prepared for how much energy at home practice requires from them.
          3. Kids may love the piano, but practicing at home can be a challenge if their only assignment is to play one or two songs over and over again. Kids want to have fun at the piano every day!

          So learning how to make practice at home interesting, fun, challenging, and rewarding week after week takes effort on the parents’ part. Together kids and parents can find a way to mark progress in their daily practice and enjoy the process of making music.

          practicing piano

          Piano Lessons for Preschoolers

          Teachers of preschoolers have to have a different approach and teach them differently than they teach an 8 year old beginning piano student. A preschooler’s attention span is approximately the number of minutes for how many years old they are. So a 3 year old has a three minute attention span, a 4 year old has a 4 minute attention span, and a 5 year old has a 5 minute attention span. There are always exceptions to the rule, or one amazing activity that transfixes a child for 10 minutes, but generally these young kids need LOTS of activities that reinforce the simple concepts they are learning. And teachers need an arsenal of activities!

          Repetition

          Preschoolers need a lot of repetition. There are now method books for young piano students as young as 3 or 4 years old. However, the mistake I see over and over again is that parents and teachers expect preschoolers to learn musical concepts the first time they are taught. Afterall, that is how older kids learn. But preschoolers are different. They need multiple layers of learning the same concepts. And that is why I teach outside the box of method books to little ones. You can too! So how do we do this?

          Find as many teaching resources as possible and add them to lessons. It’s okay with me if these resources all come from different places. I really haven’t found just one company, teacher, or website that has it all. The good news… I am curating a lot of great materials for you. AND I am creating content that fills many missing holes. You can benefit from all that I have learned over the years.

          preschool piano activity
          preschool piano game for practice at home
          preschool piano practice activity
          preschool piano finger game for piano practice

          Activities

          Preschoolers learn through movement. So kids need lots of body movement and gross motor skill activities as they develop the fine motor skills needed for playing the piano. Here are some ideas you can use to structure lessons and practice time at home. It’s okay that practice isn’t perfect at this age… practice should be fun!

          How do Kids Learn to Keep a Steady Beat?

          Provide one song each week a student can play an instrument to. Perhaps they are even going to march around the room as they play their instrument. Select music that is pretty straight forward and easy to tap a beat to like the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baby Shark, and more. Here is a video to help you see what I mean.

          How do Kids Learn Short and Long Rhythm?

          Preschoolers are at the age where they are just learning the alphabet letters and learning to read some simple words. They may not be ready for music notes. I recommend that you first begin with pictures that represent short and long sounds (like these). This will help you teach the concept in a context that is easily understood by a young child. Then when kids are successful with that activity, you can move to the most simple music notes: quarter note, half note, and quarter rest. Try creating rhythms and rhythm patterns with these simple notes. If a student isn’t quite ready for the notes, put them away for a couple months and try again later.

          Kids love making patterns and long rhythms on the floor with these fun short and long animal cards.

          Teach Finger Numbers with Rhymes and Games

          Select a finger rhyme or a finger game that a student can practice at home. It takes a while for kids to really learn these rhymes and games so I recommend using only one or two per month. It’s great that some students will memorize the rhyme, as that will help prepare them to memorize music. It generally takes a while for fingers to cooperate and strengthen. Get more ideas for finger play here.

          Charts and Printable Resources for Piano Practice

          I like to use different printables for different seasons. I think kids love that too! I always have had my piano students use 3 Ring Binders to keep their practice chart, sheet music, and other printables in. I divide the binder into sections with tabs so they can easily locate the different sections, but many still need parental help with this. I put the piano practice chart for the current week in the very front so it is the first thing kids see when they open their binder.

          How to Organize a Piano Three Ring Binder

          Like I said, I put the piano practice chart in the very front of the binder. Then the next section will be any sheet music that I printed for the student. Other printable resources will go in the third section. I use post it notes as tabs for the pages kids need to see that week every day. This makes it easy for parents to know which pages are for piano practice at home. The binder is key for students and parents to find success at their home practice.

          Piano Practice Chart

          It’s okay to write on your practice chart and customize it for each student. Most parents appreciate detailed information and love it when you take two minutes toward the end of the lesson to explain what the child should do for practice at home. If you use any of the piano practice charts I have created, write in which rhythm cards they should practice, the name of the song they should play for keeping a steady beat (moving and playing with musical instruments), the finger rhyme they should practice, the piano game they are playing, and the names of the songs they are currently practicing . These activities will help teach your child so many things they need to know about playing the piano.

          Plus! The first 100 days are crucial to setting the tone for your family. Establishing good habits and great attitudes right from the start help keep practice time enjoyable and fun for kids.

          Piano Challenge Printables

          Sometimes I like to run piano challenges in the entire studio. I generally will put a piano challenge chart in the front sleeve (right on the cover) of the three ring binder. Because it is front and center, students and parents can see and remember (hopefully!) to practice for this challenge. Some challenges I have run in the music studio include learning all the note names on the grand staff in one minute (for older kids!), challenge to learn all the five finger patterns on the white keys, composition challenge to create their own song, and so on.

          practice piano

          What Piano Practice for Preschoolers Should Look Like

          Preschoolers learn by moving, so piano practice at home should be a combination of playing some songs at the piano with some movement activities and games sprinkled in. I try to have at least 10 activities for a 30 minute piano lesson for a 4-5 year old. So a short 10 minute practice time should have at least 4 activities. If you practice for 15 minutes, plan on at least 5-6 activities.

          Your piano teacher may not assign these kind of activities. It may be because they aren’t trained in working with young children, but teach piano to these kids because parents are asking for it. Piano lessons for preschoolers need to include more activities to help them learn at the level they are at. One example of games and activities for the song Itsy Bitsy Spider can be found here.

          Often kids decide they don’t like piano because it isn’t fun, and that is generally not true. It’s just the experience they had wasn’t fun. So parents… you can help provide a successful experience for your child! Whether your teacher does this for you or you do it for yourself! So let’s discover ways you can simply add more fun to at home practice.

          Fun Activities for Home Piano Practice

          1. Let’s build finger strength and fine motor skills through games, finger plays, and rhymes.
          2. Join in on the fun and play musical instruments together with your child’s favorite songs. You can find more ideas here.
          3. Move to the beat by walking, marching, stomping, jumping, hopping, skipping, etc.
          4. Use stuffed animals as practice pals. Put three on one side of the piano and have your child move one animal at a time to the other side as they practice their song. So this for each song.
          5. Use piano printable resources like charts to mark the practice for each day. This will help you monitor kids progress.
          6. Piano games are other printable resources you can use in your every day piano practice.
          7. Allow your child to learn to play songs they want to play!

          Games for First year Concepts

          The concepts most preschool students learn in the first year of piano will include:

          1. The difference between high and low and where they are located on the piano
          2. The difference between long and short sounds and that these sounds can be made into patterns
          3. The difference between soft and loud sounds and how to play these sounds at the piano
          4. How to identify the music alphabet within the groups of 2 and 3 Black Keys structure at the piano
          5. How to name, wiggle and play the different fingers: thumb, pointer, middle, ring, and pinky fingers
          6. Strengthen fingers, practice making rounded and curvy fingers, and how to sit at the piano with great posture
          7. Playing simple songs they already know like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Baby Shark

          If you concentrate on playing games that provide a lot of repetition and reinforcement of these concepts through out the first year of piano practice, your student will have so much fun and will learn so naturally. All of these basics make good piano practice for new students.

          Technique

          Preschool Students are all over the place when it comes to technique because their tiny hand is just not ready for playing all five fingers like a beginning 8 or 9 or 10 year old is. So focus on games like mentioned above and expect to use pointer finger a LOT!

          Talking about Technique is another article, but playing games that focus on fine motor skills will help your child make quick progress.

          Creative

          Why do people want to learn to play the piano? Well…. the answer is usually because they want to learn to play songs they enjoy.

          And no one wants to take piano lessons for YEARS before they can ever play something they want to learn. It is SO important to find music for new students or teach them in a way that gives them access to music they love. This is the key to longevity in playing a musical instrument.

          If a teacher’s teaching style is set and the method books are set, I can usually predict the outcome. Eager kids usually begin to dread lessons and they never want to practice.

          One way to solve this dilemma is to let kids create. They love making their own songs! If they are learning about soft sounds, kids can create a song about a sneaky mouse or the frog that lost his voice. If kids are learning about low sounds, they can create a song about an elephant parade, or climbing down a mountain and going into a valley. Creating music means there is no right and wrong and kids can be successful EVERY time! This makes learning fun! When we let kids explore the piano and make music on their own they make discoveries and the learning is genuine.

          Keeping Track of Practice

          I think keeping track of practice is helpful for parents and kids. Even little children can see that if they work hard and practice they will make progress. If kids do not practice much, then a practice chart helps with personal accountability. Until kids are about 10 years old, it is so important that parents are involved in daily practice. And it is unreasonable to expect new students to do this on their own.

          Every single parent of my own piano students WANTS to know what their child should be practicing each week, so some kind of practice chart is helpful.

          For the very young piano student, I provide a chart like this so parents know how to work with their child at home.

          The First 100 Days of Practice are Important

          I mentioned earlier and I think it is important enough to restate: The first 100 days of practice set up the student for success. I wrote an article about the 10 Ways to Get Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons. Preparing for piano lessons and then being ready for the daily commitment of practice help everyone have a good experience: students, parents, and teachers.

          Piano Practice Chart for the Young Child

          I have created a set of piano practice charts for young children. These are simple to use. Each day your just cross off one of the icons to the right of the assigned item.

          If your teacher does not provide you with these kinds of activities, then go ahead and implement them at home. Too many parents just do not know what their new beginner should be doing other than practicing the songs in the book. But having these other activities will keep a light in your child’s eye and keep the joy of discovering about music alive!

          If you are interested in getting these free piano practice charts by joining my music community, then fill in your email below. I know you will love all the content I am creating to help you discover how you can be the best parent for your budding musician.

          Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Activities & Games

          The highly imaginative Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Song lends itself to many different piano activities and games. Because kids learn this nursery rhyme as toddlers, they know it already and are eager to play a song on the piano that they know! Interested in learning this as your first piano song? I will show you some of the ways I teach this nursery rhyme to young beginners!

          So many preschool and beginner piano music books progress in a manner in which there is very little opportunity for repetition. I often hear teachers of preschool piano students wonder what they should do when a child doesn’t grasp a concept in the lesson because they worry about moving forward in the book. This is where easy piano activities and games are important. Music concepts can be taught over and over again in different ways until the students understand.

          Itsy Bitsy Spider Song

          Itsy Bitsy Spider (actually I learned this as Eency Weency Spider and yes! there is another version Incy Wincy Spider) is one of the first nursery rhymes young children learn. They love the finger play! Actions include climbing higher, then water coming down the water spout, making a big sun, and then climbing up and up and up again! How fun!

          Itsy Bitsy Spider (free download)

          The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
          Down came the rain and washed the spider out
          Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
          And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again

          First Piano Lessons

          Beginning piano students want to play music they already know. Sometimes those songs are a little more difficult than the first songs they would sight read in a piano music book. But, with a little practice, most kids easily learn songs they already know because their ear will guide them and they have a strong desire to learn.

          Beginners benefit from playing easy piano songs of familiar music because they can be successful without even reading a note. Plus piano lessons can focus on foundational piano skills before note reading is introduced.

          Toddlers and preschoolers are eager to explore the piano and young children must have plenty of movement activities and piano games ( I have a lot of piano games for beginners in my SHOP) to reinforce musical concepts. They need lots of repetition!

          Printable Sheet Music with Alphabet Letters

          sample of itsy bitsy spider piano song with alphabet letters

          I prefer young students play music with music alphabet letters at their first lessons. This allows me to teach the keyboard geography and basic rhythms before getting to the notes on the music staff. Because Itsy Bitsy Spider is a familiar nursery rhyme, I do not provide notes for rhythm in this piano music. I will let them play the rhythm by ear.

          Here is one example of sheet music that has no notes. This easy piano music only has music alphabet letters and the student will play and sing along (and the rhythm is usually spot on!).

          Printable Sheet Music with Notes that have Alphabet Letters

          Another easy piano sheet music I like to use will have notes (so yes, students can see the rhythm) but you can write the music alphabet letters next to the note. This version also has finger numbers for kids who can play with all five fingers. If they are not ready for that, just cross them out.

          What sheet music I give a student really depends on the age of the child and if they have played any other songs already. So it depends if I give them the printable easy piano sheet music with notes or only letters.

          Printable Sheet Music with Notes on the Staff

          The piano sheet music above is what I will use to provide the staff with regular notes. I will give this music to a student who is currently learning to read music notes on the staff. However, it is harder than a song like Hot Cross Buns. The fingering is included but can be changed. If a student knows where to place their hands on the piano and which finger is placed on each note, they will be very successful.

          Some teachers criticize the use of finger numbers, but I am a firm believer that kids need this kind of instruction for a couple reasons.

          First, learning the finger numbers can be tricky. We read from left to right, but the fingering for the left hand goes right to left. The hands are a mirror, so the fingering in the left hand is often difficult for beginners.

          Secondly, kids need some easy wins. If everything is about moving forward and always making progress, kids can get discouraged. They need to have lots of successes and feel good about learning piano, so writing fingering in songs is not a crutch. It is educational and motivational.

          Incy Wincy Spider

          The incy wincy spider went up the water spout
          Down came the rain and washed the spider out
          Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
          And the incy wincy spider went up the spout again

          Piano Games for Itsy Bitsy Spider

          I am always on the look out for fun games for kids. Games that can teach keyboard geography, rhythms, note values, music alphabet, and the like. Math is strongly linked to music, so I also teach patterns, counting, adding, etc.

          I believe kids learn best through games. Sometimes they don’t even realize they are learning! So when you combine easy sheet music with fun games it is easy to teach many many concepts at a time!

          The games I created in the Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Games & Activities Book include:

          Music Alphabet Path Game – This game provides a forward moving alphabet, but the path moves right to left. This is intentional to provide opportunities for kids to track going the opposite direction of reading.

          Tic-Tac-Toe Game – This game provides an opportunity for kids to build a relationship with the teacher.
          Pattern Cards – You can also use the cards to make patterns and sequences which is an important math skill for Kindergarten.

          Music Alphabet Memory Game – Alphabet letters can be matched to the corresponding piano keyboard cards for a memory style game. Alphabet cards can also be used separately to teach the music alphabet forwards and backwards as well as teaching skipping.

          Music Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

          Movement Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

          1. Move fingers, hands and arms to the nursery rhyme.
          2. Puppets or stuffed animals can be bounced to the nursery rhyme.
          3. Students can practice moving with their whole body!
          4. Tapping! Kids can tap on their lap or bounce a stuffed animal to the steady beat as the song is sung. (See this blog post or this video for more ideas on teaching a steady beat)
          5. Most instruments like shaker eggs, hand bells, tambourines, drums can be played to the beat or rhythm while singing the nursery rhyme. (See this blog post or video about short and long rhythm)

          Piano Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

          1. Learn to play the song Itsy Bitsy Spider
          2. Make up your own Spider Composition
          3. Tap your finger along with the nursery rhyme
          4. Play with rhythms – short and long sounds of Itsy Bitsy Spider

          Preschool Learning Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

          Learning activities for beginners may include worksheets (shown below) that help develop fine motor skills, math skills, music alphabet skills, coloring, and more. Hands-on learning games also help preschoolers and toddlers develop fine motor skills.

          Here is another fun finger builder activity to help develop curvy fingers. I am not a huge fan of too many worksheets at a time because I believe children learn best by moving and playing games.

          Eency Weency Spider (free download)

          The incy wincy spider went up the water spout
          Down came the rain and washed the spider out
          Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
          And the incy wincy spider went up the spout again

          Plastic Spider Rings

          Plastic rings are fun for kids and I like to use them to play finger number games. How fun is it to play music with pointer finger wearing a little spider ring!

          Some links may contain affiliate links which means if you click through the link and make a purchase I may make a small commision at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

          Kids love these colorful rings! Use them to identify finger numbers or make patterns!

          Little Miss Muffet Lyrics

          Little Miss Muffet
          Sat on a tuffet,
          Eating her curds and whey;
          Along came a spider,
          Who sat down beside her
          And frightened Miss Muffet away

          Another spider nursery rhyme! Use this nursery rhyme to have kids create another original song they compose on their own!

          Conclusion

          I hope you have found some of the ideas I have on this blog post useful. I started this blog to help parents and teachers introduce music to young children. I’m convinced parents can teach their own young beginner many musical skills with a little help. And I know many teachers value the ideas of other teachers who have years of experience.

          Leave me a comment below what you found helpful or useful in this post. And share any ideas you may have for a future post!

          The resources I am creating are great for a beginner. You can purchase this Itsy Bitsy Spider Game & Activity Book on my website here.

          Easy Songs to Play on Piano: HOT CROSS BUNS

          There are many easy songs to play on piano. But most beginners start with the song, Hot Cross Buns. This simple three note song can easily be taught to even preschool piano students.

          Activities for Easy Piano Songs

          When I first began teaching piano to preschoolers I was always watching for easy songs to play on piano and ideas to extend the concepts that were being taught. There were few resources that actually focused on teaching piano to young children. So when I created this blog I wanted to share resources and teaching ideas that I wished I had when I first began teaching young children.

          For Hot Cross Buns, I am including a music alphabet song sheet, a movement activity, a play-doh mat for a finger building activity, and sweet treat cards to inspire children to think of other foods they can change to words to.

          I created a YouTube video to demonstrate these activities. The video can be found at the bottom of this blog post!

          More detailed instructional video on learning to play Hot Cross Buns and how to teach this song to your child is found below!

          Music Alphabet Song Sheet

          The Music Alphabet song sheet gives young students an instant win. This song is easily taught by rote (rote= watching how someone else plays this on the piano). But a music alphabet song sheet shows the notes on the piano that are to be played and give young students and parents a visual of the song. Because young students do not read music, but ARE learning their alphabet letters and beginning to learn to read words, the music alphabet song sheet is very helpful (but completely necessary if the student has an adult that can show them how to play the song).

          Movement Activities for Hot Cross Buns

          The words to Hot Cross Buns have this pattern: Hot Cross Buns = short, short, long. So I recommend moving the body like this: step, step, jump. One a penny, two a penny = pitter patter, pitter patter OR tippy toeing, tippy toeing.

          You can even have the child move like certain animals. What animals walk? Or jump? And what kind of animal makes a little pitter patter or tippy toeing sound?

          Young children learn by moving so this movement activity is VERY important!

          Play-Doh Finger Building Activity

          Children of all ages love Play-Doh. Squeezing play-doh helps strengthen the hand. Poking little fingers into play-doh helps to make fingers work independently (very important for piano playing) and strengthens the joints in the finger making curved fingers stronger.

          Rolling Balls, poking balls, rolling a couple flat pieces and smashing balls is a lot of fun!

          Sweet Treat Cards

          Kids love to tell you their favorite foods. You may hear foods like Mac & Cheese, Rice & Beans, Cheese Pizza, Spaghetti, and more. I have created little Sweet Treat Cards (there are also a couple healthy options like broccoli and tomato) to help springboard three-syllable food ideas.

          Sweet Treat Cards will give that tangible element to extend practice time. Because most easy songs to play on piano take virtually seconds to play, imaginative practice is required for little hands to strengthen up.

          If you place the cards upside down and you draw five different treats, the student can play five times (once for each treat).

          There are also blank cards for students to draw their favorite three-syllable treat. And of course, you make a really silly treat that is waaaay too many syllables. Just have fun!

          Hot Cross Buns

          & More Sweet Treats

          This easy piano song has a movement activity, a finger building component with Play-Doh, and Sweet Treat Cards to extend practice time!

          Get this easy song, movement, finger builder and sweet treat practice extender for only $4.95 and it is on sale now for a limited time. Get your copy for only $3.95.

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