Who Lives in the Doghouse? Darlene Irwin September 07, 2014
It's September...time for music lessons to start again. I'm sure that many of us have new students who are just starting piano lessons. It's so important that their first lesson be a very positive and enjoyable experience. I'd like to share with you a fun game that I play at their first piano lesson. My younger students really enjoy this activity and they are learning so much while they are having fun. I call this game "Who Lives in the Doghouse?"
Here's how it works:
Using the right hand, have the student tuck their thumb, 4th and 5th fingers together so that you only have fingers 2 and 3 showing (like 2 stork legs)!
- Have them play all the '2-black keys' on the piano with fingers 2 and 3. Start on the right side of the piano and go to the left.
- As they play, ask them what they notice about the sound (the notes start high and get lower and lower). Remind them to drop the arm weight forward into the keys as they play so they make a nice sound.
- When they have finished playing the 2-black keys, have them tuck the thumb and 5th finger behind fingers 2,3 and 4 on the left hand and have them use those fingers to play all the '3-black keys', starting on the left side of the keyboard and going to the right. Again, have them listen to the sounds of the notes and tell you what they notice.
- The next step is to make 7 ‘doghouses’! They especially love this part! Take 7 various coloured 3x5" file cards and folding them in half. I have the student decorate these with dog stickers. Place a doghouse over each of the '2-black keys’ on the keyboard.
- At this point, I ask the question…."Who lives in the doghouse?” And they answer - "The dog, of course!!"
- I then tell them that the white key between the 2-black keys is called a D.....D for Dog!
- In the right hand, have them place their thumb behind the first joint of the 3rd finger and play all the 'Dogs' on the piano. Start with the low, grouchy dogs and play up to the high dogs!
- The thumb behind the 3rd finger helps to support the joint so that it doesn’t collapse. It also gives a nice, rounded hand position and helps them to feel the arm weight drop into the keys. Take care that they don’t raise the 5th finger as they play.
- Next I ask ”OK….what note comes BEFORE D in the alphabet?" They usually have to think about this one for a bit!!
- Finally they say C. I tell them that the note to the left of D is the Cat (C)! He lives under the dog house because the dog won't let him inside!! Have them play all the Cat's on the keyboard.
- "Now...what note comes AFTER D”? “That’s easy….E!” “E is for Elephant. He won't fit inside the doghouse, so he lives on top of it!!” Have them play all the E's on the piano.
- You can alternate between starting high or starting low on the piano.
- I call the "3-Black keys" the big house! “What note comes before C?” “B is for Boy. The boy lives on the roof of the big house because he feeds the cat!”
- The rest of the game goes like this.....Father (F) went to Africa and came back with an elephant! He lives in the basement of the big house so he can feed the elephant!
- The Grandma (G) lives downstairs in the big house because she doesn’t like the stairs. However, the Aunt (A) lives upstairs.
- I usually embellish the story as we go along! They like to add to the story as well. Students also love to ‘practice’ their doghouses at home!
My beginner student came for her second lesson this morning. Her mother said that she absolutely LOVED the doghouses! She had placed cat stickers on the back side of the cards. When I asked her why, she said "Because the cat lives beside the doghouse!"
I play this game with my students for several lessons until they have a solid knowledge of the keys on the piano. My older students tell me they still remember their first piano lesson when we played this game! It’s a great way to make the first lesson special. Have fun making doghouses!
♥︎ Remember - Great Music Comes From the Heart ♥︎