Sometimes students have difficulty in working out how the musical stave applies to the piano. After all you travel from low to high on the piano by moving left to right but read it on the stave from bottom to top. It’s not immediately apparent how the two link to each other.
I wanted to create a teaching aid that would connect the grand stave with the keys on the keyboard so I made this using a magnetic whiteboard and 3mm grid tape. The clefs are laminated and have a strip of magnetic tape on the back so they can be removed and repositioned.
As you can see from the picture below the stave lines match up with the keys on the piano – using magnets the student can play a key then place the magnet on the corresponding line. Return the stave to its upright position and this gives visual learners a real connection between what they hear and what they see.
Away from the piano, I use the stave with beginners to establish an awareness of pitch – there’s no knowledge of note reading required at this stage as the student just places the magnets higher or lower on the stave depending on the pitches they hear.
The stave is also helpful for developing a sense of melodic outline and for working on intervallic reading. Once the landmark notes of G (treble clef) and F (bass clef) and middle C are understood we work out melodic outlines. From a given starting note I’ll play a series of notes – the student places the magnets accordingly. I just use steps initially, then progressing onto skips (thirds) and then a mixture of steps and skips. Often I’ll use excerpts from their current pieces.
For more advanced students we play interval games where I will play a starting note and then an interval above or below – the student has to place the magnets on the correct intervals. I do this using both melodic and harmonic intervals.
Finally I use the stave for composition exercises as it’s quick and easy to place the magnets on the correct pitches before transcribing the piece onto manuscript paper.
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