I recorded this tutorial on Facebook live earlier all about teaching preschoolers about keyboard navigation. Finding their way around the keyboard is one of the primary goals for beginning preschool piano lessons. I hope you get some new ideas for your littlest piano students!
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1. Piano Builder
The piano builder is one of my absolute “go-tos” for the first few lessons with preschoolers. This simple printable has been so useful in my studio for tons of activities.
We start out by building a keyboard on the floor, figuring out which group comes after the one that’s there. For preschoolers that are still sorting out patterns this is essential.
I do this at every lesson and then begin to introduce finding certain keys on the keyboard builder once they’re ready.
2. Dogs & Gates
The dogs and gates help my preschool piano students to identify the groups of black keys at the piano. In the beginning stages this is a great first step which gradually leads on to the next activity – finding keys with fuzzies.
Piano Safari calls these little guys “fuzzies”. They’re also called pom poms. But whatever you call them they’re cheap and great fun for activities like this.
I use glittery pom poms like these ones on Amazon. If you prefer not to order online I’m sure you can pick some up in your local dollar store or craft shop.
We use these first to find the all the Ds underneath the Dogs and then the Fs beside the Gates. I’ll repeat this activity at several lessons before trying it without the Dogs and Gates, just finding the Ds and Fs straight away.
Then I’ll give them a pack of fuzzies to take home so they can practice more. Like I said, they’re super cheap so I don’t really mind if they get lost.
4. Keyboard Zoo
The keyboard zoo is the next step up in terms of difficulty. By this stage students have some idea how the music alphabet goes, and they’ve had a lot of practice finding Ds and Fs.
Bet you were waiting for those erasers to make an appearance! I love these things, and I know I’m not alone. Many piano teachers have a collection of the Iwako puzzle erasers, and my students are always begging me to take some home. (Unfortunately the shipping costs to Ireland means that’s not really an option for me.)
We use these for quick key quizzes, and for keyboard races too.
To play a keyboard race:
- Start on the same key. Choose a key closer to one end if you want a shorter game, and further away for a longer one.
- Take turns to roll a die and count that number of keys forward. Ask your student to name the key before moving.
- The winner is the first to reach the end of the piano.
For a variation on the keyboard race, try making a music alphabet die to use instead of a regular one. You can find full instructions and the download for that here.
Are you looking for more preschooler teaching tips and ideas?
The Upbeat Piano Teachers just released an interview series all about piano for preschoolers. You can find out more about the preschooler webinars by clicking here.
There’s also a fantastic series all about connecting with teens, if you want to get both of those you should definitely take a look at the preschoolers and teens bundle for even better value.