Teaching piano lessons is something we are passionate about doing. But what if we don’t have a piano and it is lessons time? Here are a few alternatives that might work.
A Trusty Keyboard
First option, the good old keyboard! I know you might be thinking that some of the keyboards you see today are as big as a piano, and some are. But if you are looking for something portable and easy to use for one of those times that the piano isn’t available, even a small size keyboard will work. A few key things to do when using a keyboard in place of a piano is first to establish for your student where middle C is going to be on this particular keyboard. After that, the note placement is basically the same and you are getting the important lesson of playing a tune and reading the notes on the staff.
The melody will still be correct or incorrect, so the student will be able to know what they are playing is correct. Another step is finding a good piano “sound” on your particular keyboard. Then, for fun, let the student pick a sound that is totally different and fun for a particular song-such as electric piano for a rock song or pipe organ for a hymn. This will definitely peak the interest of a student who plays only on a piano! Keyboards-even small ones-can do the job!
Singing And Rhythm Lesson
Another option is to have a singing and rhythm lesson. In most lessons we are spending a short amount of time focusing on rhythm, so switch it up and have the main part of the lesson focus on rhythm. Clapping out the rhythms is always effective. Practice counting out loud, and then practice clapping the correct rhythm of the notes while you say or sing the words. This adds another layer of concentration to the exercise.
Grab a couple sticks, or even two wooden spoons if you don’t have sticks. Use these to tap the rhythm, or tap the rhythm with a stick on a pot or pan. Sing the melody as you go-this helps reinforce for the student whether or not their fingers would be playing up the keyboard or down the keyboard according to how the melody goes. Timing sometimes gets a little overlooked, and then when it is time to play the song, it is frustrating if everything is correct note wise, but the timing is off. Having a rhythm lesson will be a fun change, and will make the song you are working on that much better once you are back on a piano playing it!
Make A Cardboard Piano
Lastly, a paper keyboard is a great substitute for that time you just don’t have a piano OR a keyboard to use. Using a paper keyboard can help the student learn notes in a different way, and many times that is what makes things stick in our memories. The paper keyboard can also be used to combine a rhythm lesson, with the sense of the actual notes and where they are. When using this, it is also a good idea to sing along, or at least hum along to the song, and let the student get a feel for which direction the notes will be going-up or down. Playing some note finding games on the paper keyboard can be very effective too, and the oversized nature of this keyboard allows for a hands-on game that is easy to make interactive. If your keyboard is big enough, some of the game could even be stepping on the notes and dancing around to the next one. You do the left hand and let your student do the right hand. A little like a game of piano twister!
Don’t Sweat Play Piano Without A Piano
So, if you find yourself in a crunch without a piano, take heart, there are alternatives that can make a piano lesson into a “whole music lesson” covering many of the things we sometimes wish we had more time to cover in our regular lessons!