Teaching Tip Tuesday: Highlight It!

Teaching Tip #9: Highlight It!

Happy Tuesday! I’d like to thank all my great readers who keep coming back even after such intermittent posting on my part 🙂 I’d like to get back to sharing some simple teaching tips each Tuesday that have helped me in my own studio – and hopefully they can give you some ideas to help in yours! Sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference.

Today’s tip is about highlighters. I love to keep a highlighter marker near my piano to use during lessons. Then I have my students use it to sort of analyze a piece they are working on, and to isolate and highlight a specific thing they need to work on.

I have a student who just learned a piece in their book very well – that is, he learned all the notes perfectly but I didn’t hear much change in dynamic levels. So I had him take the highlighter and go through the piece and circle all of the dynamics.

Slurs are another great one – have your student highlight the slurs or phrases in a piece to help them remember to play them nice and legato.

Whatever a student is learning or struggling with at the moment is a great thing to circle or highlight. Having the student actually do the highlighting puts them right in the middle of the learning process; rather than watch you circle the things that they missed in their music, they have the opportunity to take a good look at their own music and figure it out on their own.

What are some simple ways you involve the student in the learning process? Do you have any particular ways you typically like to mark up the student’s music?

Jennifer Boster

6 Responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesday: Highlight It!

  • I love using highlighter tape or transparent colored post-it tabs. Then when they have fixed the problem spot, they can just pull it off.

  • I recently found erasable colored pencils. I like these more than highlighters, because young students often accidentally circle the wrong thing, or they drop them on the piano keys. I have about 20 colors, and it's fun to pick out different colors for each dynamic level (forte=red, piano=blue, etc.) Yes, I agree that having the student marking the score himself puts him in charge of the learning process and is so much more effective!

  • Thank you for this tip! I often will have them point at things and then I will circle or star it, but having them also highlight it themselves seems like a great way to reinforce it.

  • I also use eraseable colored pencils…and LOVE them. I use them for myself in my own personal piano studies as well. Definitely livens up the page and makes the important stuff pop:-)

  • I love highlighter tape! It comes in such bright colors, and really makes dynamics come to life! I also use it for marking anything else the student tends to miss or not even notice. Cutting a small piece and tearing that into tiny bits works great for staccatos, accents, etc. I've used it on my own music also. After showing my student what needs to be worked on, I get them to practice the piece while always looking at the NEXT pattern/measure. The highlighter tape makes the important things easy to see and take notice of. It's worked wonders in my studio, and the rolls last much longer than I'd ever thought!

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