This is a guest lesson by Katrina Proctor, Content Manager at Midnight Music.
Learning basic piano is one of the most important foundational skills for any beginning music student. Understanding basic chords, scales, harmony/melody, and even just simple hand-eye coordination are all things that we want our students to grasp and have practice with. But as most of us have learned during the midst of the 2020/21 chaos, latency issues, and physical equipment make learning music a little bit more challenging these days.
Google has recently released a new Chrome Music Lab experiment called, “Shared Piano” which does a decent job at conquering latency issues, thus allowing music making to feel more authentic across digital platforms & devices.
In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to practice piano with an optional partner or small group using Chrome Music Lab’s latest experiment, “Shared Piano.” Students only need to have access to a computer, iPad, or mobile phone. By the end of the lesson, students will have a better understanding of how the piano keyboard is set up, how to play a C-Major scale, how to build a simple musical phrase using notes of the C- scale, and how assemble simple musical phrases into an optional partner/small group song for a mini recording.
MUSIC TECH LESSON PLAN
C-Major Musical Phrases on Shared Piano (Chrome Music Lab)
Beginner Piano/Music Students, Best for 4th/5th Grade & Up
Students will understand how the piano keyboard is laid out.
Students will be able to: play a C-Major scale, build a simple musical phrase in the key of C-Major, and (optional) record a collaborative piece with a partner using their musical phrases.
- Copies of the student worksheets (either digital or physical)
- Student devices: iPad, tablet, Chromebook, Laptop, or mobile phone (mobile phones are harder to use just because the screen is small)
- Individual Chrome Music Lab Links:
- Go to Chrome Music Lab’s Shared Piano Experiment
- Click “New Room”
- At the bottom of the page it will list a random room code. Click “Copy Link”
- Paste room link into individual emails or individual shared “view only” Google Docs for students.
- Repeat creating new rooms & pasting links for each additional student in your class.
- Keep a record of room links for students.
2-5 lessons depending on depth of instruction, free-play time, & optional partner recording.
Students will need to be able to open a link created by the teacher. Can be distributed on a shared Google Doc or via email.
Students will need to be able to fill out the student worksheets (either physically or on a PDF annotation app like Notability/Goodnotes/etc) or be able to discuss as a class via Webex/Zoom/Google Meets/etc.
Part 1: Piano Layout
- Distribute Piano Keyboard Intro Worksheet (optional: can discuss instead of filling out if holding classes virtually.)
- Discuss the pattern of white/black keys: show students a picture of a piano. Ask some questions:
- What do you notice about the groupings of black keys?
- How many white keys are in between black keys?
- (Optional): Can discuss the pattern of whole/half steps that form the major scale (WWHWWWH)
- Have students label note letters on the piano.
- Discuss what an octave is and the difference between high sounds (right end of the piano) & low sounds (left end of the piano).
- Fill out the worksheet together.
- Discuss what a tonic note is.
Part 2: Musical Phrase
- Distribute Musical Phrase Building Worksheet
- Review the notes of the C-Major Scale and how to play it on a piano.
- Explain to students that they will be building random musical phrases that begin & end on the tonic note: C.
- Reassure students that they do not need to know what the examples will sound like. They only need to put down ANY letter of the C-Major Scale on the blanks.
- Optional: students can also copy down their random musical examples on a piece of scratch paper. They just need to be able to see the examples they wrote when they are playing on Chrome Music Lab in the next 2 sections.
Part 3: Introduce Shared Piano
- Display Shared Piano’s webpage virtually or from your computer in your classroom.
- Show a simple tutorial video or explain some of the main features yourself. Here is a simple tutorial video example.
- Show students how to set up their piano with letters ON & in 2-octaves.
- If using a phone or tablet/ipad, students will be able to click the keys on the screen. If using a computer/laptop, here is a guide:
- As a class come up with a short example that begins and ends on C.
- Play the example for the class on your teacher device.
- Show students how to re-record the song if you make a mistake.
- Distribute student codes (Note: don’t distribute codes before the lesson. Students can get easily distracted.)
- Invite students into their personal rooms to play around and get used to the piano.
Part 4: Individual Recordings on Shared Piano
- Have students take out their musical examples from the Musical Phrase Building Worksheet.
- Remind students how to re-record if they make a mistake.
- Show students how to share their completed example by clicking on “Save”, copying the link and pasting it into an email or into a virtual assignment.
- Give students time to record their musical phrases (examples 1-6 from their worksheet) into one long recording.
- Remind students not to close the tab if they are happy with their work. It will erase their recording unless saved.
(Optional) Part 5: Collaborative Recording on Shared Piano (works best for in-person collaboration on multiple devices, but can also be done using Breakout Rooms on Zoom/Webex/etc.)
- Have students pair up with another student or two. Have students decide which student’s room to join (doesn’t matter, they will just need the link).
- Have students each share their musical phrase examples from their Musical Phrase Building Worksheet with their group members.
- Students will then determine who plays which line in each member’s example.
- Group will record each member’s examples 1-6 from their worksheet collaboratively.
- Allow students to play around with collaborating using different instrument sounds (drums, strings, etc.)
- Distribute basic piano duets and have students collaboratively learn & record.
- Have students work on putting their compositions onto staff paper.
- I have several units of composition activities available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store which are perfect through guiding students through the process of writing rhythmic and melodic compositions:
Students will submit a saved recording of their piece once they are happy with it by clicking on “Save” from their room and emailing to the teacher or submitting it via a virtual assignment.
USA Music Education Standards
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.
Australian Music Curriculum Standards
4.3 Create, perform and record compositions by selecting and organising sounds, silence, tempo and volume
6.3 Rehearse and perform music, including music they have composed, by improvising, sourcing and arranging ideas and making decisions to engage an audience
8.3 Practise and rehearse a variety of music, including Australian music, to develop technical and expressive skills
10.2 Manipulate combinations of the elements of music in a range of styles, using technology and notation
10.3 Practise and rehearse to refine a variety of performance repertoire with increasing technical and interpretative skill
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About the Writer
Katrina Proctor is the Content Manager at Midnight Music and is also a music teacher from Colorado, USA. She has taught middle school music for nearly 10 years in northern Colorado where her passion is low-income students in Title 1 schools. Currently, Katrina teaches 5th-8th grade chorus, advanced-level chorus, class piano, and general music. She has her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education & Master’s Degree in Music Education-Choral Conducting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. You can connect with Katrina on Facebook or via her website, She The Teacher.
Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?
Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.
I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.
I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.
If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.