Teaching kids how to play the piano can be exciting, rewarding and utterly exhausting. After all, most children have very little of the patience required to master the instrument. As a piano teacher, however, you can make the instruction more enjoyable through including small games and activities that will motivate your students.
Young kids who are just learning how to play the piano often use awkward finger and hand positions. You can improve their positioning with a simple game. Place a quarter right above each of their middle knuckles and challenge them to play a simple piece without letting the quarter fall off. Once they focus on keeping the quarter in place, their hand position will improve tremendously. If you'd like, you can let them keep the quarter when they succeed.
Improv on the Black Keys
Sticking to the notes on the page can bore piano students, so let them have some freedom at times. After a particularly gruelling lesson, show them how to improvise a song using just the black keys. They'll be surprised about how easy it is (since any three of the five black keys easily make a chord), and their originality and excitement will shine through the music that they create. If you'd like, join them in a "black keys duet"!
Change That Key!
One important skill that more advanced pianists need to develop is the ability to translate a song from one key to another. This game will give them plenty of practice in doing that. After they have perfected a piece and can play it almost by heart, challenge them to play it in a key that has only one more (or one less) flat or sharp. For example, if the piece is in C major (with no flats or sharps), encourage them to play it in F major (with one flat) or G major (with one sharp). Students will struggle at first, but they will feel proud at their ability to translate the piece. Then challenge them to play the piece in the corresponding minor scale; in this example, they would play it in A minor, which has no flats or sharps. Discuss the differences between this version and the others.