This article was originally written in April 2016 and was updated in April 2019.
Group classes are a great opportunity to make piano social, and have fun together. I hold a group workshop about 3 weeks before every concert to make sure everyone is ready to perform.
We start these classes by doing a trial run of the concert. We talk about what makes a good performer, and also what makes a good audience member. I want my students to not only be comfortable performing for others, but to also be good listeners, and respectful of each others’ performances.
After the concert run-through, we have a short juice break, and then we get to play some games.
How to Make a Floor Staff
I have been meaning to put together a floor grand staff for a while now, and decided this group class would finally give me the push to get it done!
I made the floor staff from cotton calico with black ribbon applique lines and clefs. Then I padded it with some quilting. The padding is not strictly necessary but it does make it more comfy when we’re climbing around on top of it.
The space between the lines is 11cm (which just happens to be a perfect fit for these foam circles which I get from a discount store called Mr Price).
There’s a small line to represent middle C and I didn’t put extra space between the two clefs so it’s similar to the version of the grand staff used in many younger beginner books where middle C is equidistant from the treble clef and bass clef.
This is a pretty simple project if you’re a reasonably confident sewer. If you’re not though, don’t let that hold you back! I’ve seen DIY floor staffs created using tape or permanent marker on plain sheets or table cloths. It doesn’t need to be fancy. 😉
Here’s an example from a Vibrant Music Teaching member, Laura, who used a 5×7 rug and 1/2 inch electrical tape.
Another member, Austin, asked a friend to crochet a smaller floor staff to suit his space.
And Brenda is a sewer like me so she created this beautiful floor staff out of an old tablecloth and black ribbons. Romeo the cat definitely gives it the seal of approval.
What to do with your floor staff
I plan on using the floor staff for lots and lots of games in private as well as group lessons, but below are a few of my favourites.
If you’re looking for a fully planned out group workshop for your piano students, you’re in luck! In this mega post I detail everything that goes into planning one of my piano party workshops.
Grand Staff Twister
We played Grand Staff Twister with four players, two in the treble clef and two in the bass. I think four is a nice number, but you could probably squeeze in six depending on the size of your staff.
I was surprised by how easily even my weak note readers were able to find the right note in grand staff twister! I really think this will be a fantastic tool for struggling students to see the staff in a new way.
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If you need help putting together the spinner, follow the instructions for the scale spinner here. If you have pre-made spinners you can just cut off the part of the pdf with the arrow, and throw it away.
Grand Staff Beanbag Toss
For this game players need to be in two teams. The teams can be as big or small as you like.
- Take turns to throw a beanbag, trying to get it inside the grand staff.
- The thrower attempts to name the note it landed on, if they’re right their team gets 2 points.
- If the thrower can’t name the note but their team can, the team gets 1 point.
- That’s it! The winner is the team with the most points when the time is up (you decide how long you want the game to be).
Grand Staff Races
The floor staff is also great for working with intervals.
- Place a small toy for each player at the bottom of the staff.
- Players roll the die and move up that interval. E.g. if they roll a 5 they move up a 5th.
- The winner is the first to reach the top line F.
Are you looking for more games for group classes? There are so many more fantastic games that are great for groups and solo lessons inside the Vibrant Music Teaching library.
Join the community today and see what Vibrant Music Teaching could do for you.
Do you have a floor staff?
What are your favourite games to play with it? Do you use it more in one-on-one or group lessons?