How To Make Piano Lessons Fun


how to make piano lessons funOne of the great joys about the piano is the art of teaching. This isn’t just about performing for me, although that’s what I love to do. Teaching though is a different animal, and it’s something I’ve become more passionate about over the years.

The fact that you can shape young minds through music has always been intriguing to me. Playing the piano provides many benefits, and it’s a gift worth sharing with others.

After all, I’ve been through the process as a student so I know what it’s like. For me growing up my piano lessons were always fun though. I never found myself incredibly bored or disinterested even when I was working on repertoire by Rachmaninoff and Beethoven.

For every kid that’s not going to be the case though. Sometimes piano lessons can be a real drag on them and they end up hating it. Surely there’s a better way to be successful at the piano that doesn’t involve 7 hours of practice per day and being slapped on the wrist for mistakes right?

I think it’s important that kids see the fun side of music, and if you can make piano lessons fun from either a teacher or parental standpoint that can go a long way.

10 Ways To Make Piano Lessons Fun

So how exactly do we make piano lessons for kids anyway? Well, it comes down to your level of creativity. The best way’s I’ve seen don’t even involve physically playing the piano actually. Sometimes it involves games for the piano where you sit around, ask questions and try to guess the right answers. Other times it’s a project that involves crayons and markers.

Whichever method you try to make piano lessons more fun, it needs to be music based. If you can mold the activity around a central point of learning something musical then it can really work.

Some of your activities can be based on the specific repertoire, others on theory and so forth. The whole point is to drive a connection between everyday life and piano so that it doesn’t come across as some tough task that nobody wants to do.

I’m going to list 10 cool ways to make piano lessons fun below. I’ve tried all of these out over the years so I can vouch for their effectiveness. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, anybody can set these activities up during the child’s practice sessions. Even if you’re an adult pianist that’s looking for inspiration for yourself these will work too!

1. Note Memory Games

A fun piano game I used to play with my students in the Community Music School was based around note memory. You show the student a series of notes and then they have to memorize it and copy it on the whiteboard. The student who replicates the staff the best wins!

An easy way to do this is to prepare your examples on an index card. Give each student 20 seconds to memorize everything there. What I like about this game is that you can also incorporate any music details you want there.

To keep things simple for beginners I usually start with one note and then increase it to a maximum of 8 notes. I ask them to copy down the clef, time signatures, and notes along with accidentals.

2. Rhythm Ball

Rhythm ball is a really simple game that can help establish a student’s ability to count evenly. It’s also a much more engaging game to learn basic rhythms instead of sitting at the instrument and clapping. Getting kids on their feet is really important even during a lesson because it switches things up and keeps students engaged. Here’s how the game works:

  • Get a bouncy ball (a large volleyball works great)
  • Grab a permanent marker and draw different rhythms on it (as many as you want)
  • Bounce or pass the ball to a random person
  • When the student catches the ball they’ll see a rhythm
  • The student then claps whichever rhythm they’re presented with

This game might seem too simple to be fun for a piano student, but kids love throwing and bouncing things so it’ll certainly get some giggles.

3. Guess The Composer

After going through college for my music degree it became really apparent to me that I didn’t get nearly enough exposure to the importance of the composers whose music I was playing while growing up. So I thought it would be an awesome idea to make sure my students had that knowledge early.

For this game to work you should prep your students. Play music for them on a weekly basis either at the beginning or end of their lessons. Also, assign them homework to listen to at least 1 new piece from a list of popular composers.

When it’s game time simply play a couple of random pieces of music and have them guess who the composer is! If they’ve been listening on a weekly basis then they should be able to tell the difference between Mozart and Rachmaninoff!

4. Note Scavenger Hunt

Okay, so I really love this game because it gets the piano students to get around and explore the room. Here’s what you’ll need to make this work:

  • Cardboard paper (multiple colors works best)
  • Permanent marker
  • Tape

Take your paper and draw out a couple of measures of music for each color. Next cut the measure into different pieces and then spread them throughout the room. Hide them of course so they’re not easy to find.

When it’s game time assign your students a certain paper color to look for. For example, one student could have to look for Red paper and the other Yellow paper.

Once they’ve found all the pieces it’s up to them to correctly place the measure together in the correct order. When it all looks right, have them tape it together and then play the measure on the piano!

5. Online Piano Games

Another quick and easy way to make piano fun is to play some online piano games. There’s a ton of really good websites out there for this. Here’s a list of my favorites:

ABC Kids

Pianoiseasy

6. Group Piano Class

So this next idea to make the piano more fun is to enroll in a group piano class. If you’ve hired a teacher that’s well connected to the community then it should be easy to set this up. Group piano classes allow students to engage in their craft with others. I can’t stress enough how important that is to the development of a young student especially.

Sometimes when a student is learning piano it can feel a bit lonely. Besides, you’re in a room usually by yourself working out rhythms and notes without having anyone to talk to. In group piano, the activities are all about working together. The biggest thing you get from it is ensemble playing and making music together.

I didn’t do group piano growing up but I sure wish I did because it’s just a ton of fun to be a part of.

7. Learn Duet Pieces

Whether you’re the parent or the teacher, a duet piece really makes piano fun. Have the student take the simpler line while you take the other. You just might be surprised by how much fun that kind of engagement can be. There’s plenty of fun activities for piano, but none as simple to get into as this. Duet playing is a great way to prepare a student for larger ensemble playing that they would likely experience if they joined a group class.

8. Dress Up Day

This one is really about discovering your silly side. Since a piano student is going to be playing a ton of Beethoven and Bach why not dress up like them? You could even build a recital around this where students all come dressed up as the composer that they’re presenting that day. This adds authenticity to what they’re doing and also makes for a hilarious photo-op for the parents.

9. Play In The Dark

Closing your eyes and playing without looking is one thing, but doing so in the dark is a different animal. Try this out and see how far your student can get in their music from memory!

10. Candy Day

Every now and then I like to treat my students to some tasty treats. I call it candy day, but it’s still something that they have to earn throughout their lesson. Usually, through ear training exercises or some of the other games, I listed here the student has a chance to earn some candy if they answer correctly or win the game.

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s about all I have for this list. There are a million ways you could make piano fun for a student or even just for yourself. Most of this post is centered around some different creative games you could play. However, there are also some innovative ideas in here too; especially if you plan to present a special recital and dress up!

Have fun with these and be sure to leave me a comment and let me know how you these ideas work out for you and your students!

Joshua Ross

Hello & thanks for stopping by! I'm a professional concert pianist and piano instructor. In the United States, I've given successful performances in several places including New York, Florida, Connecticut, & New Jersey, I have also performed internationally in Italy and made my Carnegie Hall debut in 2014. I enjoy blogging about the piano, the art of performance, general music, current events and the latest in music production.

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