How To Make Your Own Piano Practice Counter

Today I want to show you how to make a handy little gadget to help with piano practice. This practice counter is a great way to help students keep track of repetitions of practice. I’m sure you could find many other uses for it at the piano.

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This practice counter uses 10 beads that are strung in a way where the bead stays in it’s position until you are ready to slide it over. The idea is that a student is assigned to practice something 10 times, so they would slide a bead over for each repetition of practice. Of course, you could use it for any number of repetitions. Sometimes, younger students do well with 3 or 5 repetitions. That’s just fine, you simply won’t move all of the beads over.

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Here’s what you need:

The nice thing about this project is that you can use what you have. Pretty much any string and medium sized beads will work! You just want to make sure the opening of your beads is big enough to fit both ends of the string at the same time.

Here’s what you do; it’s super easy!

    1. Cut about 1 yard of string. (You might want to go a little longer if you are using big beads or if you thing your string will fray easily.)
    2. Fold the string in half and tie an knot approximately 1 inch away from the fold to make a loop.
    3. String a bead on to one end of the string. Pull the other end of the string through the same bead, going in the opposite direction. This is important, because this is how your beads will stay in place!
    4. Pull the bead all the way to knot and repeat step 3 with the remaining 9 beads.
    5. Once all 10 beads are strung, tie a knot on the end and trim the ends of the string.

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That’s it! It’s nice having a loop at 1 end so you can hang it or a teacher or parent could loop it around their finger while supervising.

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Another idea using this same concept is to create longer counters to represent days of practice. Since it takes 21 days to form a habit, using 21 beads would be a good way to keep track of practicing each day. Or, maybe you want to aim for 30 days of practice!

This would make a great activity to incorporate into a group class or camp!

Three Awesome Resources For Adults Who Want To Play Piano

A lot of adults say that they’ve always wanted to play the piano, or that they wish that they had stuck with it when they learned as a child. The good news is that it’s never too late to learn or return to the piano!
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Playing the piano is fun, satisfying, and mentally stimulating. It’s an awesome skill to add to your repertoire. Adults don’t to have to play in recitals or play for anyone else, for that matter! You can move at exactly your own pace and hone in on your own musical interests. Sounds like a win!

If you’re an adult who wants to learn piano and you’re not really sure how to get started, check out these 3 great resources:

 1. Returning To The Piano

For adults who have had some kind of music in their past, I highly recommend Returning to the Piano by Wendy Stevens. (It’s a great deal on Amazon right now!)  Wendy is a friend of mine and an excellent teacher and composer. She carefully designed this book to be just the right level and pace for an adult who is re-remembering their piano skills.

There is a wide variety of musical styles represented in this book. Wendy’s arrangements are beautiful, accessible and creative. This book also offers a good dose of information and music theory to help you put all of the puzzle pieces together.

2. Flowkey

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Flowkey is a Web-based app that has tutorials for hundreds of songs on the piano. (Read all about how it works here.) This would be a great solution for a busy adult who needs to learn piano on their own time.

Flowkey has piano several courses that teach you all about playing the piano, but you can also jump in and try learning one of the hundreds of songs available. The songs are divided into 4 levels, so it’s easy to find something that you’re comfortable with.

3. Recreational Music Making

Recreational Music Making, or RMM, is an approach to learning music where we remove the expectation for performance and high levels of achievement. The focus shifts to playing music for enjoyment in a non-stressful atmosphere. You are truly playing “just for fun”!

This is my absolute favorite approach to teaching adults. All adults can be successful with this approach. If you don’t have an RMM teacher in your area, let’s Skype and I’ll teach you to love playing the piano!

Preschool Music At Home On Long Summer Days

My kids just finished up their year of preschool. We’re super excited about summer and all of the fun activities that it brings. But, suddenly, we’ve lost the rhythm and routine of our normal schedule. When we have long days at home, I always try to break up the day with a few activities, whether we’re out and about or just in our living room. Music activities are always a hit!

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Here are a few ways to keep your little ones engaged with music on long summer days:

1. Concerts, Story Times, Literacy Events

I’m really fortunate to live in a city with a great library system. They put on wonderful, free story times for children all of the city that almost always include music and singing. In the summer, they bring in some great children’s musicians to put on free concerts. Sometimes they are outdoors at a park and sometimes they are at different libraries.

If you don’t have access to a big library system, I’ve noticed that a lot of churches and even retail stores host story times for children. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, Pottery Barn and several local childrens’ boutiques.

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My kids’ preschool puts on a monthly literacy event called Talk Read Sing. It usually includes crafts, music, a story, and lunch. Sometimes a character from the featured story makes an appearance which is either fun or terrifying for kids! 🙂 A highlight of this event is that we get to bring home the featured book to add to our collection. We’ve discovered one of our favorite musical books, Pete The Cat, from this event. (Related: Read this post for musical story ideas! You can read more about Pete the Cat there!)

2. Piano Preschool

Piano Preschool is an at-home music program to introduce preschoolers to piano concepts. It is a cute little yellow “adventure case” that includes a DVD, CD, book, scarves and instruments. The DVD tells a story to teach 10 important musical concepts: Treble, bass, left hand, right hand, patterns of 2, patterns of 3, middle C on the piano, middle C on the grand staff, staccato, legato, rhythm and finger numbers.

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Piano Preschool gifted my kids an adventure case a couple of months ago, and they’re still hooked on it! Paul is totally pleased with himself whenever he gets a sound out of the harmonica and Sophie mastered the goodbye song on the piano. They still asks to watch the DVD regularly.

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I’m really impressed with the quality of the video and the songs. (Trust me, I’ve heard my share of kids songs, and the songs featured in this programs are ones you won’t mind hearing over and over!)

But, I’m even more impressed with how well it teaches the musical concepts. Sophie is pretty immersed in music for a 4 year old. She takes Suzuki violin lessons, I teach her piano, she attends my weekly preschool music class, and she learns about music at her preschool. Now that she’s been using her Piano Preschool Adventure Case, she has really mastered using the terms treble, bass, staccato and legato correctly. These are all concepts that she had heard of before and understood, but she hadn’t quite caught on to using those vocabulary words correctly.

In fact, last week, she tagged along with my to my church choir practice. During part of the rehearsal, the basses were running over their part and Sophie leaned over to me and whispered, “those bass notes are really low!”

She has also gotten really quick at finding Middle C on the piano. Previous she would have to hunt around for it and sometimes she’d accidentally find and F instead of C. Now she goes right to it!

For kids who haven’t yet had much exposure to musical concepts, Piano Preschool would be the perfect way to get started. It’s also a great way to fill in gaps if you have a break from any of your regular music activities.

Piano Preschool is available on Etsy!

3. Learning By Step

If you need some ideas for musical activities to do on your own at home, Kerrie at Learning By Step is your girl! She’s uses her elementary music education experience to create meaningful music activities for young children. All of her ideas are easily adaptable to a variety of ages, so if you have a mix of younger children and older siblings, the big kids won’t find the music too baby-ish.

Every month she publishes seasonal appropriate playlists so that you can build a great collection of kid-friendly music. I love that she includes all genres of music so it’s not just “kiddy” music, but also music that the whole family can enjoy.

She also has Listening Lessons that give parents everything they need to teach their children about specific songs. The most recent one is for Brahm’s Lullaby, which most kids already know and love. Learning some facts about it and having some experiences with the music help kids to deepen their understanding and appreciation for songs they regularly hear.

Kerrie’s blog is a wealth of resources for books, rhymes, songs, activities and more. I’d encourage you to browse to find a few things that might resonate with your family. Be sure to check out her resources page for all kinds of neat stories, props and instruments you can use at home!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.