Aren’t the Olympics exciting?!
I love how they bring people together – across nations – to recognize and celebrate hard work, excellence, and achievement.
These are things I want to celebrate in my students.
So, inspired by this year’s Winter Olympics and drawing on the five colored rings in the Olympic logo, I created a piano festival based on five key aspects of musicianship:
Blue – Sight-Reading
Gold – Memorization + Performance
Black – Aural Skills (clap-backs, sing-backs, play-backs)
Green – Creativity (improvisation, composition)
Red – Technique
This festival is based on a series of weekly “events” – students will have the opportunity to choose which events they would like to “train” for and participate in.
My goal is to focus on one ring at a time, for teaching efficiency and to keep students from getting overwhelmed. Together, we will choose events (2-3 per category); I will give students practice materials to take home so they can prepare for the events. Most events are designed to take place in the lessons.
Once students successfully complete the required number of events for a given category, they will earn that Olympic ring. After all rings have been earned, the student will receive a certificate of achievement and perhaps a small prize for participating.
The events are as follows:
Olympic training: sight-play something new 7 days in a row
Sight-Reading Events: Choose 2
Halfpipe: sight-play two contrasting short pieces
500m Freestyle: sight-read two contrasting rhythm exercises, counting out loud
Remix: sight-play a short exercise with RH, then LH
Short Track Relay: sing, speak rhythm, and play new piece on your own
Gold: Memorization + Performance
Olympic training: practice 7 days in a row
Memorizing + Performance Events:Choose 2
Speed Skating: polish and memorize 1-2 pieces from earlier in the year
Giant Slalom: learn a continuous technique sequence from memory
Semifinal: perform two pieces from memory for friends or family
Black: Aural Skills
Olympic training: copy tonal and rhythm patterns from recording – sing-back or clap-back
Aural Skills Events: Choose 2
Curling: perform two contrasting rhythm exercises, counting out loud
Free Skating: create your own rhythmic series for practice – minimum: four bars
Qualifying: sing and play a new song by ear – choose something you know
Olympic training: transpose three short pieces to a new key this week
Creativity Events: Choose 2
Freestyle Skiing: compose a new piece
Bobsled: perform a structured improvisation with teacher or family member
Figure Skating: compose or improvise a duet with a friend
Olympic training: practice a different technique exercise every day for 7 days
Technique Events: Choose 3
Ski Jumping: play five continuous 5-finger or one-octave scales in steady tempo
Cross-Country Skiing: play three major/minor triads (Prep B/Level 1: with inversions), HS
Biathlon: play one 5-finger or one-octave scale – one hand legato, one hand staccato, HS
Snowboarding: play two 5-finger or one-octave scales, descending first, then ascending, HS
Ice Dancing: play two 5-finger or one-octave scales in contrary motion, HT
Piano Olympics Planning & Resource Guide
Download this free guide, complete with helpful resources and materials for facilitating
these events with Preparatory A, Preparatory B, and Level 1 students (based on the levels
of the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Music Development Program).
Let the Games begin!
Resources used in this project:
Gig Harbor Music Teachers Association
Chanson Voice Studio
Joy Morin/Color in My Piano
Keyboard Musicianship for the Adult Beginner (Frances Clark)
Music Tree Activities, Part I (Frances Clark)
Royal Conservatory of Music, Music Development Program
Developing Musicianship Through Improvisation (Azzara/Grunow)
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