7 ways to make lessons fun using the big grand staff

7 Ways to Make Lessons Fun With The Big Grand Staff

If you’re familiar with the Cascade Method, then you know that we are all about making piano lessons FUN! If you’re new here, then welcome! What better way to make your piano lessons exciting and engaging for students than incorporating games into your lessons? One great resource that can be used to make your lessons fun is our Big Grand Staff printout. Today I’m going to explain what this Big Grand Staff is and seven different ways you can make lessons fun while using it! 

What is the Big Grand Staff? 

The Big Grand Staff is a printable download that fits horizontally on two letter-sized sheets of paper. This simple teaching tool can be used in a bunch of different ways to help your students learn, and not to mention, have fun! I recommend laminating the papers so that you can write on it multiple times with dry erase markers, that way you can get tons of use out of it. Another fun way to use this resource is by adding magnetic sheets to the back (I got mine on Amazon) and purchasing the compatible note magnets. These magnets fit with the piano reading tool, NoteMatch but they are slightly smaller. 

Seven fun ways to use the Big Grand Staff during your piano lessons!

1. Practicing Notes 

The Big Grand Staff can be used for single-note identification or for practicing landmarks (the C’s, G’s, and F’s). Once you print and laminate the sheets you can simply use dry erase markers to write on it for all of your students or incorporate the magnets to make it even more fun! The Big Grand Staff is the perfect resource to use along with your NoteMatch to really help everything “click” with your students. Here are some images to show you how to use the NoteMatch and Big Grand Staff together to teach the Landmark Notes:

I personally like to teach notes using sentences and acronyms like FACE — “Elephants Go Bowling Down Freeways, All Cows Eat Grass, and Good Burritos Don’t Fall Apart!” 😂👏🏻 You can use these fun sentences to teach notes by having your student place the magnet on the “F” of the FACE, or the 4th line on the bass clef. This way they’re learning terminology and reinforcing notes. 

You can incorporate NoteMatch by placing one magnet on the Big Grand Staff and asking your student to place the corresponding magnet on their NoteMatch. This can really help them get the big picture of sheet music reading and help it all click! 

2. Practicing Chords 

Chords are one of my favorite things to teach and using the Big Grand Staff, NoteMatch, and corresponding magnets can make it a breeze for you and your students! Again, you can teach chords by either using the magnets or by having students draw them in on the Big Grand Staff and then color the corresponding notes on NoteMatch! 

When it comes to sharps and flats, having the option to use the magnets and handwrite the notes can help teach a lesson in music writing. If your student draws out the notes, they will have to write the sharp or flat symbol in front of the note, as you would see it when reading traditional sheet music. If they’re using the magnets, the sharp or flat symbol will come after the note. Here are some images to help make more sense of it! 

3. Practicing Inversions 

Teaching inversions can be piggy-backed onto chords. Once your students start learning chords, helping them understand inversions is so easy! All you do is use the SAME THREE NOTES, but you keep flipping the bottom note to the top! 

So if you have a C, E, G… to invert it, that bottom C gets kicked up to the higher C, giving you an E, G, C. It’s fun for students to see it visually on the staff, and then they can do the same on NoteMatch, and practice those chords in root, to the first inversion, and to the second inversion. I would have kids do it going up, and then back down. Watch these videos to help visualize it!

Explaining Inversions Part 1

Explaining Inversions Part 2 

4. Practicing Key Signatures 

Key signatures represent the arrangements of sharps and flats placed on the lines or spaces that correspond to the given note. So basically, you can place a sharp magnet on the line that represents middle C, to represent C sharp, and so on. This is a great way to show students the order of the sharps and flats. 

When teaching key signatures, I also make sure to have my “scales method” diagram out as well. This useful diagram was created by Leslie from Creative Keys Studio, which is also one of the teachers who completed our program! 

I always have these diagrams on hand when practicing key signatures, and I have my students draw out the key signatures too, just for extra reinforcement! When drawing out sharps by hand, always make sure that the empty space in the middle of the sharp symbol shows the line going through it for a line note or is aligned in the space for space notes. 

5. Practicing Scales

Teaching scales is one of the exciting and fun aspects of my piano workshop! By placing magnets on the NoteMatch and corresponding notes on the Big Grand Staff, they’ll be mastering their scales in no time. 

6. Reinforce Note Names Through Mini Composition

You can have your students randomly place the magnets on the staff, and then play the mini composition. I would recommend starting with one note at a time, but if they want to take it up a notch, they can do intervals or chords, stacking two or three notes at a time. This all just depends on your students level of knowledge! 

7. Practicing Intervals 

Another fun way to use the Big Grand Staff and NoteMatch together as a teaching tool is to practice intervals. Start with one note and add different notes above it each time and have your student name the interval as you move up! You can also add the interval to the NoteMatch or have your student add it to the NoteMatch, after viewing it on the Big Grand Staff. This can help with visual learners since they’ll see the physical distance of the notes on the piano. 

Watch this short video to see how I would teach Intervals! 

Make Piano Learning Fun! 

Using the NoteMatch and Big Grand Staff to play games with your students is one of the best ways to get them excited about their lessons and motivate them to practice! The NoteMatch package and the Big Grand Staff are the perfect teaching tools to spice up your lessons and really help everything “click” for your students. 

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