Magnetic Whiteboard Grand Stave

Magnetic Grand StaveSometimes 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.

Magnetic Grand StaveAway 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.

Looking for a piano or flute teacher near Tunbridge Wells or Crowborough?  I offer lessons for all ages and abilities – look under the Instrumental Lessons tab for more details.


5 thoughts on “Magnetic Whiteboard Grand Stave

  1. Wendy Prevezer 08/02/2014 / 9:05 pm

    This is GOOD Rowena! I’ve been wanting to do something similar for a while but hadn’t thought of spacing it so that it fits exactly with the piano notes. I’m having trouble getting hold of a big enough magnetic whiteboard…and how did you work out the size to print the clefs? These mathematical bits can defeat me and stop me from making lovely props!

    • Rhythm Express 08/02/2014 / 9:11 pm

      Thanks Wendy – I thought it useful to do it ‘real’ sized as it makes the connections much clearer for children who perhaps struggle with the left/right and up/down thing. I got the whiteboard from Hobby Craft and it’s approximately 60cm x 40cm including the border.

      I printed the staves on A4 paper. I’ll add in a downloadable pdf to the post. The quality isn’t great so I coloured mine in once they’d printed out and then laminated them.

  2. earlleonardmusicforkids 09/02/2014 / 12:34 pm

    Reblogged this on Earl Leonard – Music for Kids and commented:
    This idea of aligning a grand stave with a keyboard is just perfect! It’s one of those great ideas that seams so natural it’s hard to fathom not having seen it somewhere before. Another great post from Rhythm Express and a tool I’ll definitely be making to use in my own classes.

    • Rhythm Express 09/02/2014 / 5:55 pm

      🙂 I can’t claim ownership of the idea having first came across the concept when I attended a seminar about teaching dyslexic and dyspraxic pupils (although they were using printed examples – I think it was tutor book which had some sideways staves aligned to a diagram of a keyboard). Having something life-sized and tactile is really helpful for all students as it covers visual, kinaesthetic and aural aspects of learning. I love it.

      • earlleonardmusicforkids 13/02/2014 / 1:32 am

        Ah nice one, well I love your adaption of the idea (and the term ‘aspects of learning’ which is far more accurate, fairer, balanced and less loaded than ‘intelligences’). Thanks again. I’m 2 weeks in to my new classroom teaching job after years of ‘just’ being an entertainer, and your blog and others like it have been a big help in planning/making the switch.

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