Kids love these voting paddles. It makes ‘aural tests’ so much fun…just don’t tell them they’re called aural tests. That can be our little secret.
The animals mean that they don’t need to be able to read yet either, so these are great for preschool piano students.
Same and Different
First we simply look at the paddles together. Depending on the age of the student, same and different may not be a concrete concept to them yet – so I start by talking about how the 2 elephants are the same and the elephant and the mouse are different.
Then we relate this information to the piano, playing the same note twice, and then two different notes. Next the student gets the two paddles, one for each hand, and as I play notes they need to hold up the corresponding paddle.
I encourage them to hold the paddle high in the air up above their head, just because it makes us giggle! We usually start off with them facing the piano so they can see the keys I’m playing, and then we turn their chair around so they need to rely on their ears.
Lastly, we swap rolls and I take the paddles and hold them on my lap. As I hold up one they need to play their own example of same notes or different notes. This reinforces the concept, and gets them exploring the piano.
High and Low
The next concept we discuss is high sounds and low sounds. We repeat the same process with these cards, usually in lesson two or three. First they hold the paddles, I play notes and they need to hold up the correct sign, high in the sky like a bird, or low deep down in the sea like a fish.
We then do the same test “blind”, and then swap roles again. When they are playing the notes themselves I encourage them to use their right hand to play the high notes and their left hand for the low notes.
Long and Short & Soft and Loud
I normally discuss these two ideas in the same lesson, in week 3 or 4. Using same method as before, we first talk together about the concepts and how the animals reflect them. Then we do the voting at sight, followed by ear tests.
When it’s time for them to play and me to hold up the signs, we either start at the bottom or top of the piano, using the right or left hand as appropriate, and work our way towards the middle.
This not only teaches long and short sounds, and soft and loud sounds, but also starts to introduce them to using their peripheral vision to play the piano whilst keeping their eye on the paddles.
This is a great additional benefit of this exercise. Although some kids get this instinctively when they start to read music, others can really struggle with it so I use every opportunity to introduce it early.
Make Your Own
You can download the aural training paddles here.
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I printed 2 copies of each, laminated them separately and then glued them together, sandwiching a popsicle stick in between to create my paddles.
Preschool Piano Resources
If you’re looking for more fun ideas for you preschool piano lessons, try these posts:
- 4 Fun Ways to Teach Keyboard Geography
- Top Tips for Keeping Preschoolers Focussed
- 5 Quick Brain Breaks for Wiggly Preschoolers
Do you have a favourite way of introducing aural skills?
If you have any questions about my aural training activity, post them below and I’ll do my best to help.