Almost everyone loves stuffed animals.
I’m a grown woman and I may or may not still have some favorite ones stashed around my room.
In addition to their nostalgia and squishy-ness (yes, that is a real word), they are also very useful learning tools for aspiring young pianists.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate these furry friends into lessons with your littlest students, here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Have a Studio Mascot
Designate a special stuffed animal to represent the studio and keep him or her on top of the piano during lessons.
Young students will love seeing their mascot every week when they come to their lesson, and you can tie it into what you are teaching.
For example, if your mascot is four-footed, you can point that out when teaching fourths, four-note chords, or 4/4 time signatures. Visual aids are always helpful!
2. Introduce the Metronome
This is one of my favorite ways to use stuffed animals in piano lessons. My students love bouncing a stuffed animal in time with the metronome at different tempos.
Eventually we will introduce specific rhythms (two quarter notes and a half note, etc.) and see if they can bounce their little friend to that specific rhythm in time with the metronome.
It’s a great way to help them internalize the beat.
3. Play a Memory Game
Tie some flashcards with notes, chords, and music symbols around the necks of a few stuffed animals and put them in a bag.
Have the kids pull them out one by one and see if they remember the name of the note/chord/symbol. As a reward for guessing correctly, let them set up the animals in the studio as an audience for the rest of the lesson.
4. Have a Pretend Recital
Expanding on the previous idea of a stuffed animal audience, this is a wonderful way to help your young students get ready for a recital.
Set up a group of stuffed animals around the piano and have your student practice being introduced, playing their pieces, and bowing.
It’s a fun way to teach performance etiquette while preparing them for playing in front of a group.
5. Have a Real Recital
Take the performance practice one step further and used stuffed animals as a theme for a recital.
The students can play songs about animals, and you can decorate the venue with them and serve animal crackers at the reception.
Bonus points if the kids bring their own favorite stuffed animals to join the fun!
Have you ever tried to use stuffed animals in piano lessons before? What are your favorite ways to add them to a lesson? Let me know in the comments!