10 Ways to Use Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

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10 Ways to Use Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons blog post

I love regularly incorporating sight-reading games in piano lessons. One of my favorite and most frequently used resources within my piano studio is the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games Bundle.

I’ll cover the many different ways to use these sight-reading games in piano lessons.

These Feed the Music Monster games can be used for sight-reading practice, ear-training, group piano classes, music theory, online lessons, and even for your tween and teen students who may not be interested in the “feed the monster” aspect.

I find this bundle of sight-reading games so valuable that I have both the printable Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games Bundle and the online Boom Cards Ear Training Bundle, and use them to play sight-reading games in piano lessons whenever I can.

What the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games Bundle Includes:

This printable bundle of Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons includes the following:

  • Pre-reading – 24 cards
  • F-A-C-E Treble clef – 20 cards
  • E-G-B-D-F Treble clef – 20 cards
  • G-B-D-F-A Bass Clef – 20 cards
  • A-C-E-G Bass Clef – 20 cards
  • C-D-E-F-G Bass Clef – 20 cards

To use these sight-reading games in piano lessons with the interactive Music Monster to feed, check out our blog post, Feed the Music Monster Game for Piano Lessons.

 

Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

1) Use these sight-reading cards as a supplemental resource to fill in note-reading gaps

Usually, a new unit will introduce new notes and hand positions (e.g. F Major hand position songs), and students have few opportunities to practice those notes before a lesson book introduces another unit a few pages later.

‘Pausing’  to focus on targeted sight-reading practice will ensure the student is indeed accumulating these skills and knowledge before moving onto something new.

 

2) Use these sight-reading games during those last few minutes of lessons

This is really the way I am able to incorporate the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games in piano lessons so often.

Sometimes there are just a few minutes left for a lesson and it would not make sense to try to squeeze in something new to practice.

So I pull out a few sight-reading exercises and the student gets to have fun while strengthening their sight-reading by playing these quick and easy sight-reading games in piano lessons.

3) Use these sight-reading activities for targeted clef practice

Mnemonic devices can be helpful, but sometimes students can get bogged down by them.

(Examples of mnemonic devices include: All Cows Eat Grass, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, Great Big Dinosaurs Fall Asleep, FACE.)

While mnemonics may work for some piano students, for others, it becomes a separate thing that needs to be memorized and can add confusion.

That’s where the Feed the Music Monster sight-reading resource really allows students to get thorough practice on each distinct set (be it treble clef spaces, etc.) by just focusing on specific letter names.

In that sense, this resource is unique because it answers the question: “How can I help my piano students remember their treble and bass clef line and space notes?”

The repetition of reviewing bass clef and treble clef will help your students commit those lines and spaces to memory after playing these sight-reading games in piano lessons for a few weeks!

 

Using Feed the Music Monster in 10 Ways to Use Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

 

Ear-Training with the Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

4) Review Solfege singing with these sight-reading games in piano lessons

Learning to sing solfege in different keys using movable ‘do’ is so valuable when it comes to being able to transpose.

  • F-A-C-E treble clef cards can be used for singing solfege in the key of F Major. (F is Do)
  • E-G-B-D-F treble clef cards can be used for singing solfege in the key of G Major. (G is Do)
  • The rest of the sets can all be sung in the key of C Major. (C is Do)

Strategies:

  • Student sight-reads (sight-plays) a card.
  • Figure out the solfege together (in the beginning stages of introducing solfege) or the student figures out the solfege.
  • Student sings and plays a card.
  • Student is given the tonic and then sings the solfege with no piano assistance.

*You can string together more than one sight-reading card to create 2-4 bar phrases to work on as you play these sight-reading games in piano lessons.

 

5) Strengthen ear-training with these cards 

  • Place (2) cards on the music rack.
  • Student sight-reads both cards.
  • Have the student close their eyes while the teacher plays one of the cards.
  • Student selects the correct card.

 

Group Piano Classes with the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games

For these tips, I will assume you have a way to display the PDF file on a big screen/monitor or overhead projector. Otherwise, each student will need printed cards.

6) Sing and play activity as a group

If you are set up for each student to have their own keyboard or piano in group lessons, Feed the Music Monster makes a great group activity!

Here are some tips for playing these sight-reading games in piano lessons with a group of students.

  • Display one card (if using Adobe, zoom into 200% and adjust as necessary)
  • Have the students identify the notes as a group.
  • Establish your tempo and have students play together.
  • As a secondary step, have the students sing the note name while playing the card all the way through.

Tip for sharing PDF files on screen: if using Adobe Acrobat, View > Show/Hide > Uncheck Tools Pane. This will give you more room to zoom in.

 

7) Clap rhythms from the sight-reading cards 

No special keyboard setup is required for this activity!

If you have rhythm instruments on hand, you can mix things up and give each student a percussion instrument such as a triangle, bongo, rhythm sticks, etc., to perform the rhythm on.

  • Display 1, 2, or 4 cards (one page) and have the students count and clap the rhythms.

 

8) Mix and match sight-reading cards with 2-part ensemble playing

  • Display cards from two different sets using a 50/50 screen split.
  • For example, you could display Bass C-D-E-F-G on one side, then the Bass Clef A-C-E-G on the other.
  • All students play through each card together as one large group.
  • Divide students into two groups and have half the class play one card while the other half plays the other card.
  • Try other combinations: you’ll be able to see which ones might work together better than others.

You can have fun with this as some of the melodies will sound better together than others, and it’s an opportunity to talk about the theory of what makes music sound better.

“How could we make this sound better? What if we switched out some of the notes?”

10 Ways to Use Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

 

Music Theory with the Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

In addition to teaching sight-reading games in piano lessons, you can use the short melody segments in the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games Bundle to teach brief theory lessons.

9) Teach associating hand positions with key signatures

  • Ask students “What position is this?”
  • For example, depending on the card, the A-C-E-G bass clef cards could seem like C Major or A minor. It’s all about associating general hand positions with different keys.
  • This discussion could segue into key signatures. You can display a key signature flash card, and then ask the students to position hands based on the key signature card.

 

10) Harmonize melodies from these sight-reading cards

  • For young students not yet playing chords, play different chord combinations and ask them to choose what sounds better. Can they articulate why? Does one choice make it sound incomplete? A fun discussion!
  • For older students, you could display a group of 4 cards, and have each student take turns harmonizing one or two measures. This is a great chance for students to learn about chords and simple chord progressions if they haven’t already – or to learn about new chords, such as 7th chords.

 

Online Lessons using the Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

I find myself teaching online piano lessons quite often.

These online piano lessons are a wonderful opportunity for playing sight-reading games in piano lessons.

This bundle of sight-reading cards can become a go-to resource that you may decide to use strictly for the occasional online lesson, as a special treat.

Most of the activities described above can be adapted for online lessons through the screen sharing option.

Even ensemble activities listed above can be adapted for an online class. The key is to have students muted during this part.

Here’s an example:

  • Follow the procedures for #8 (see above)
  • Spotlight each student to “check” their melody.
  • Divide the class and the teacher plays one part while singing the other, thereby helping both groups.
  • Have the students switch parts.
  • Ask them to self-assess if they were able to keep a steady beat and play the correct pitches.
  • Of course, we realize that the students can’t hear each other, but they still get to hear the teacher singing and playing both parts, and they get to practice singing and playing each part.

Tips for online lessons:

  • If possible, have the student sign in with an iPad/tablet AND another device which provides the teacher with a sideview of the student.
  • The iPad/tablet should be kept on the student’s music rack so the student can easily sight-play the cards.
  • Try screen sharing with the PDF zoomed in to 200% so the student has the best chance of being able to read the cards easily.

I personally use the Boom Cards™ Ear Training Bundle anytime I use this resource for online lessons.

Feed the Music Monster piano sight-reading Boom Cards

For online lessons, I prefer the Boom Cards™ version (even though the cards are the same) because the sight-reading game is already built into the cards with voiceovers and audio tracks, which makes it so easy for the teacher.

It’s also engaging for the student because “someone else” gives directions.

Simply log in to Boom Learning on your browser, go to ‘Library’, find the deck you are looking for, and share the screen.

If I know I’m teaching an online lesson, I’ll usually get this ready before my teaching day begins so it’s ready to go and I just need to share the screen.

If you’ve never used Boom Cards™, check out Getting Started with Boom Cards™ in Piano Lessons.

 

Teaching Teen and Tween Students with Sight-Reading Games in Piano Lessons

Don’t let the “Monster” part of the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games have you thinking this is only a resource for young students!

Most of my students are between the ages of 7-14, and I’ve found that many of them are not interested in the “feeding the monster” aspect after sight-reading a card.

It helps to let the students know that our next agenda is to complete 5 (or any reasonable number of) cards.

My teen and tween piano students enjoy the challenge of sight-reading and because the cards are short, there really is an end in sight.

And they get excited as they notice their own reading skills improving!

For elementary-aged students who aren’t interested in “feeding the monster” but might like to have an added incentive, I let them choose a sticker for their Mini Piano Sticker Books after they complete a certain number of cards.

After all, while it’s fun, learning to read can feel like work so this still allows us to play the Feed the Music Monster Sight-Reading Games in piano lessons so they can enjoy sight-reading.

 

How will you use Feed the Music Monster sight-reading games in piano lessons?

In addition to all of these ideas, you can use the Feed the Music Monster cards to help with The Great Sight-Reading Challenge.

While certainly not an exhaustive list, I hope this has given you ideas on how you can use the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games in piano lessons.

Use the Feed the Music Monster Piano Sight-Reading Games in piano lessons today so you can easily teach sight-reading and ear-training skills during in-person and online piano lessons!

 

Need even more games & activities for piano lessons?

Check out these blog posts with even more ideas & tools:

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Picture of Michelle Madasamy

Michelle Madasamy

Michelle Madasamy is a pianist and teacher who is passionate about instilling a love for music in her students through learning, studying, and cultivating skills with care. Michelle holds a Master of Science in Music Education, a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance, and is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through the Music Teachers National Association. She earned state certification as a K-12 music educator and received her training at a district designated by the NAMM Foundation as one of the ‘100 Best Communities for Music Education’. She has over a decade of teaching experience and has taught a wide variety of students, from preschool group piano classes to undergraduate music courses. Michelle teaches school-aged children of all abilities in her piano studio.

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Welcome!

Hi! I’m Melody Payne, a pianist and piano teacher, educational resource author, a fun-loving wife to the most wonderful and talented hubby I could ask for, and a lifelong learner who loves to share. I want to make your life as a music teacher easier by writing and sharing helpful and relevant music teaching articles, and by creating educational resources with your very own students in mind. If you are a parent who wants to enroll your child in piano lessons, I’d love for us to get started building those skills that can give your child a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

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