Hello again! We are having a busy summer with many trips and lots of camps so I wanted to take a moment to share an idea we used in our recent piano ensemble camp. Besides playing duets and a few multi piano ensembles, I wanted to center the “off the bench” activities around ensembles as well. After a lot of brainstorming I came upon the show STOMP. I think we’re all familiar with it but in case not, here’s a quick video to refresh.
Isn’t it amazing? When I showed this video to my students, they oohed and ahed over it so I knew this activity would be a hit. Each student brought a few pieces of “junk” from their home. We started with brooms but students wanted more sound so we ended up with jars, boxes, old milk cartons, and oatmeal containers. Then they found ways to make multiple sounds with their objects.
We began our rhythm ensemble with a really simple rhythm sheet I’ve shared below. We divided into 4 groups so each had a different color to watch for. Then big and small arrows referred to quarter and 8th notes (with slight cresc). We tried each part separately before putting it all together. Then in teams of 2 to 3 students, we used the next printable to compose our own rhythm duets/trios. Students found ways to notate the different sounds they could make (shaking, hitting the top, tapping the side, hitting against the ground, throwing in the air and catching it, and so on).
Then after a few practice sessions, they performed for each other. Finally, we put everyone’s all together – we gave each group 4 measures of solo time and then had 8 measures of ensemble time. So cool to hear 12 different parts performed together and the kids loved performing their own rhythm compositions! It took a few tries to keep a steady rhythm as group – so many of our pianists don’t have the opportunity to play in big groups so learning to perform even just rhythm with 12 people was took a bit of practice. Everyone had a smile when we finished this activity!
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