When I use the Faber Piano Adventures books with a student, I like to take a timeout during lessons from focusing on the books to play a game. Here are some games I’ve developed for the Faber Piano Adventures Primer Level to test comprehension and improve skills.
Unit 1: Up or Down?
With eyes closed, Student listens to two notes Teacher plays (any spacing). Student must guess whether the second note is higher or lower than the first. Begin with large intervals (one or even two octaves). If Student does well, make the intervals smaller and smaller.
Variation: Teacher plays three notes and Student guesses whether they are all going up, all going down, or up-down-up, etc.
Unit 2: Quarter and Half Notes
Student creates a melody using the black keys while counting “1” out loud for quarter notes. Repeat counting “2” for half notes. Same but “3” for dotted half notes. Same but “4” for whole notes.
Variations: Vary note durations. Play to metronome instead of counting out loud.
Unit 3: Key Recognition
Game #1: On a second instrument, Teacher (or parent/sibling) plays and says the name of a key (e.g. “G”). Student repeats the name of the note back and tries to find and play the exact pitch (e.g. G4).
Variation: Two notes are said and played back by student, then three notes, etc.
Game #2: Teacher says a short word that can be spelled using the musical alphabet. Student spells the word while playing the correct keys.
Words to use: ace, add, age, bad, bag, bed, bee, beef, cabbage, café, cage, dad, dead, deaf, edge, egg, face, fed, gab.
Unit 4: Guide Tone Improvisation
Student improvises using guide tones Treble G, Middle C and Bass F while Teacher accompanies low on the piano with a steady beat and simple (but perhaps interesting) rhythm. An effective accompaniment pattern is the descending sequence C, B-flat, A, A-flat (repeat multiple times).
Variation: Student uses only quarter notes or half notes, counting these out loud.
Unit 5: Time Signatures
Teacher “makes up a song” on the white keys using quarter, half, dotted half and whole notes. Student gets to choose the time signature. Student claps the beat, with the loudest clap on the downbeat. (If necessary, Student can clap with metronome.)
Variation: Student counts the beat out loud, e.g. 1-2-3.
Unit 6: Clef Recognition
Teacher improvises a short melody high or low on the keyboard. Student watches and says which clef(s) the melody should be written on.
Variation: Student closes eyes and decides by listening alone.
Unit 7: Step and Skip
Teacher calls “step” (2nds) or “skip” (3rds). Student creates a melody on the white keys note by note, moving up or down as they like.
Variation: Teacher also calls the direction, e.g. “step up” or “skip down.”
Unit 8: Patterns
Teacher plays a 3 note pattern consisting of steps (2nds) and skips (3rds) on white keys. Student watches and copies 1-2 octaves higher. Teacher then plays a longer pattern, e.g. 4 notes. How many notes can the Student remember and correctly play back?
Variation: Reverse roles to see if Student can “stump the teacher!”