As a piano teacher it’s good to have a lot of tricks up your sleeve. Try a new practice game or approach, and you instantly perk up your students’ attention!
Teaching can be likened to variations on a theme. It takes a lot of repeating to learn music well. That’s the theme. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
So to change up how you ask your students to repeat (or how to keep track of their repeats) it’s like a variation on the theme. Variations are interesting, fresh and stave off boredom. In short, doing a different kind of practice keeps things playful and fun, and it’s good for the learning process to approach things in different ways.
What are ‘Ditto Drops’? They are glass melts of every colour under the rainbow, from the size of your thumbnail to slightly bigger. Each piece of glass is unique, kiln-fired at a glass studio. ‘Ditto’ comes from a Latin word that means ‘the same thing again.’ So, Ditto Drops help keep track of repeats.
How the practicing works
Ditto Drops help count practice repeats. Line them up on your book rest, choose a spot that needs polishing, and away you go!
You can use them in the piano lesson with your students, and/or send each student home with their very own baggie of Ditto Drops (the latter is more fun).
Today’s FREE Printable explains how to use them. It says:
“Today you are taking home some very special droplets of glass. They’re like little gemstones. When there’s a spot in your music that you want to play better, use them to help you keep track of your repeats at the piano.
Ditto Drops keep practicing fun! Here’s how:
- Line up your gems on the piano. When you notice a mistake:
- Decide where you will start and stop. Hint: keep it short.
- Identify your goal, like, “I want to fix the fingering on the eighth notes.”
- Each time you successfully play the short section, move one marker over. Move them one at a time with each repeat until they have all been moved.
- For a bigger challenge: move one back to the start if you make a mistake.
- You are finished that spot of practice today once they are all moved.”
Encourage your students to play each practice spot all the way to the next beat one. This avoids a pause at a barline and connects the music with what is going to come next. One student calls beat one the “to be continued” note.
In lessons I’ve been writing in my students’ practice notes how I feel their little gemstones can help them, but there is also the option for them to decide on a polishing spot at home on their own.
Perfect student gift?
Piano teachers are often looking for little student gifts. Why not something that helps make piano practicing feel special and fun?
How to do this yourself
You could give your students the choice of taking home three or five Ditto Drops, allowing them to decide how many repeats they feel they can do. Display all the glass melts on a table and let them choose which ones they like.
If you like the idea of getting your own Ditto Drops, let me know in the comments below (on my blog itself). I’m willing to help teachers get them if you want them.
DIY. You can use this idea with your students. Just keep your eye out for little objects that would make counting fun. If you sew, make little drawstring bags to carry the gems and the printable note.
But as I said above, if you’d like a little help and want affordable and beautiful little gifts for your students, let me know how I can help.
What I can offer you for free is today’s FREE Printable for Ditto Drops. Get it and all of my other printables, here.
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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching!
Video of the week
A Jolly Little Jingle. Music to brighten the holidays and an irresistible plan for audience participation that involves a lesson on counterpoint! A must-have! Multi-level trio, 1 Piano 6 Hands. Part I Early Elementary, Part II Elementary and two options for Part III — Intermediate and Early Advanced. Get it in my shop, here!
Hi! I’d love to get some ditto drops for my students! Where can I purchase them?
Hi, Janet! Great question! I’ll include a link here to School Street Studio Glass. The artisan’s name is Tim. You can contact them through their Facebook page directly. One thing I didn’t mention in the article is that the class pieces can be any size. You may want some bigger melts on hand for students who have young siblings (to avoid choking). Here is the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SchoolStreetGlass/
I hope you can order some!