Every teacher has a few tricks up their sleeves to help students notice those dynamic markings right?! Here’s one of my favorites: Dynamic Skiing! It comes from doing the same activity in Choir in high school and college. One day, I tried it with a student whose piece had lyrics and it was just the right activity to help him connect his body to the music. When he sat back down, we kept singing along and suddenly his dynamics were amazing!
So here’s how you can do it. First trade your student spots – you will be playing the piece while he or she sings along and follows the dynamics. When playing piano, the student will rise just above out seats, still in an almost sitting position. Slowly as the music crescendos, the student will reach a standing position that is forte. Through the piece, students will continue moving up and down in this position. They never sit down completely so don’t pick too long of a piece or their muscles may become exhausted! Make sure the singing follows the dynamics with their body movement so they really internalize the dynamics.
Once you’ve finished the piece (or section), trade places and let the student play with their new awesome dynamics! It’s great with younger students’ pieces that still have lyrics written in but some students have sung “La la la” along to much more complicated pieces with this activity as well. So the next time you need an activity that internalizes the music and helps students feel the music they are playing, try this one!
Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at 4DPianoTeaching.com