Learn a 5 part progression for teaching rhythms to violin students using the Blue Jello Cards from the Music Mind Games materials + 4 additional ways to integrate advanced students in multi-level classes.
Music Mind Games is a music theory curriculum created by Suzuki Piano teacher Michiko Yurko, and it involves a series of colorful materials and progressive games for teaching music theory to children. The entire curriculum is one of the best I have ever seen for effectively teaching complex concepts in natural, developmentally appropriate ways for children.
As I progressed in my violin teaching career, the reality of limited time pushed me to narrow my music theory offerings, and the one thing I kept teaching consistently from the extensive Music Mind Games curriculum was the Blue Jello Cards used for teaching rhythm note reading. I developed a 5 part approach for using these for violinists and four challenges to engage and integrate my more advanced students in multi-level teaching situations.
On a fun, personal note, I credit the effectiveness of the Music Mind Games curriculum for spawning my career as a composer. After many years of teaching the basics using the Blue Jello Cards, my rhythmic dictation got so strong that I would transcribe different languages into rhythms in my head when I traveled to different countries and use these to compose music.
In this video, learn a progression using the Blue Jello Cards from the Music Mind Games curriculum specific for benefitting violinists. The progression shared in the video is:
1- Speak cards (optional hand symbols).
2- Sing in ascending scale.
3- Air bow while speaking/singing.
4- Play on an open string.
5- Play as an A major scale.
* Add marching to any of these steps.
Have multi-level classes? Learn four additional ways to integrate advanced level students in a challenging and engaging way:
1- Stay on the same open string pitch as the rest of the group but do each card in a different position (i.e., 1st card in III positions, 2nd card in IV position, 3rd card in II position, etc.…)
2- Again, stay on the same open string pitch as the rest of the group but play each beat in a different position (II, III, IV, III, II, I, etc.…)
3- Play a different scale for each card.
4- Improvise a melody.
Learn more at www.MusicMindGames.com.
More Ideas from M4YV for Teaching Music Theory:
Pipe Cleaners & Music Theory/ Blue Jello Cards - Learn a cheap, hands-on, colorful, and easy clean-up activity to support teaching music theory and the Blue Jello Cards to young musicians.
The Magic Bag - a Metaphor for the Learning Process - Learn a "magical" way to create a learner's identity in young students using the Blue Jello Cards.
How do you teach rhythm and/or music theory in your studio? Let us know in the comments below.
I have a magic bag. When I put something in this “magical” bag it makes the object grow into a larger version of itself. For example, if I put a miniature notebook into the magic bag, I get back a large notebook. I started this trick in my teaching to help with review of the *Blue Jello (set 1) rhythm cards. I wanted to fortify this foundation of fundamental rhythms before we learned the second set of this rhythm card series. The Blue Jello (set 1) cards happen to come in both a small and large size which naturally led to this playful idea. This simple trick for reviewing first year material turned into a very captivating way to begin a class and my students never even realized we were doing review.
As the school year went on I realized that the magic bag was more than a way to enchant my students into doing review and actually a metaphor for the learning process. When we come to class our knowledge is small and when we leave class it is bigger - this is the wonder of the learning process. As I realized this parallel I began to state it to my young students so they could be aware that they were growing and be able to feel empowered by this incredible process. I believe that learning and the growth that occurs along the way is one of the most satisfying experiences we can possibly have in this world. The magic bag helps us conceptualize the true magic of the learning process while having fun along the way.
I also did this intentionally to plant in my young students an identity of being a learner and a student. If you have not already read the book The Talent Code by D. Coyle, I highly recommend it for several reasons. One of the reasons I recommend this book for educators and parents is to learn about the incredible studies that have been done correlating identity to success.
In the video below I first share a brief view of how the magic bag works, the concepts and reasons behind it and then a clip of me using my magic bag in the classroom. In this video I reference the importance of mindsets - for more information on this I recommend Sal Khan's article The Learning Myth: Why I'll Never Tell My Son He's Smart. I also reference the power of identity - for more information about this and to learn of some compelling studies involving learning and identity I recommend reading D. Coyle's book The Talent Code.
* To learn more about Blue Jello Cards rhythm cards and the Music Mind Games music theory curriculum click HERE.
What's cheap, hands-on, quiet, colorful with easy clean-up?
Answer = Pipe Cleaners!
A parent recently turned me onto this fantastic teaching tool. Pipe cleaners are economical, colorful, hands-on, quiet and clean up with the swoop of one hand. What's not to love? We have been using these to study the shapes of musical symbols. The hands-on quality makes it a slow and individualized learning tool for young children to study the details of the shapes in musical symbols.
We have also used pipe cleaners to re-create Blue Jello cards with great success (see picture below.). For more information on the incredible Blue Jello cards that are a part of the highly recommended Music Minds Games curriculum please visit: http://www.musicmindgames.com
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!