Piano Games - why they can be useful for practicing
I use piano games in my lessons; not all lessons and not every lesson, but I do use them. I find them helpful to get students to relax and concentrate on a topic we have been learning - and I find that if students bring the games home it reinforces the topic even further. In school teacher lingo - it's extending the learning.
My younger students tend to have access to the games in our studio - and I find it helps them immensely. And my older students often get a "treat" when we play games in lessons. Overall it's a strategy that has helped me keep students attention, extend the lesson and engage students who otherwise may not be interested that day.
If you have a student at home who is struggling with their practice games can help get you back on track. I have a number of piano practice games that I employ and here are 3!
1) For doing repetitions and drills: get 7 coins, legos, action figures (whatever it may be but 7 is the magic number) and put them on one side of the keyboard. Every time a drill/repetition is done well they move an item to the other side of the keyboard. When they have moved all of the items they are done that job for the day.
2) For reinforcing keyboard awareness - if students are telling you they can't remember what the keys on the piano are, use this game (magically they remember!). Cut out 14 smallish pieces of paper and write the musical alphabet on them (one letter per piece) so you have 2 sets of letters. Choose two game markers (one penny and one dime work well) and your student puts the marker of their choice on one end of the keyboard while you put yours on the other. Place the two piles face down and at the same time turn over the card. You and your student each move your marker to the key identified on your individual cards moving closer to the middle of the keyboard. Do this until you have gone through your cards. The individual who has their game marker closer to Middle C is the winner. (Susan Paradis has a great pdf for this game, from whom I originally heard of the game!)
3) Gather a bunch of legos or your Mr. Potato Head. For every job done well (repetitions, playing a number of pieces, etc) during practice, the student gets to add a lego piece to their creation or add an item to Mr. Potato Head. This works well with repetitions for students who are learning how to move their hands around the piano as they have to find their spot again after they add to their creations.
I'll post more practice strategies for reluctant practicers so check back for more!