24 ways to use the Grand Staff Magnetic Board every day in piano lessons (Part 2 of 2)

24 ways to use the Grand Staff Magnetic Board every day in piano lessons (Part 2 of 2)


Last week, we discussed the first 12 ways to use the Grand Staff Magnetic Board to teach the keyboard and staff, sight-reading, and theory basics.

Today, we’re digging deeper into 12 (or more!) other ways to use the Grand Staff Magnetic board with teaching intervals, chords, inversions, scales, and so much more!

PLUS for this week I'm giving you a free printable to use with your Grand Staff Magnetic Board: word cards. They utilize the color dot magnets for specific review and can be used on the keyboard or grand staff.

>>> Get your free printable word cards!

Missed last week’s post? Read ideas 1-12 here.

13) Teach intervals
Intervals can be taught from basic (3rds, 5ths, etc.) to more advanced (major 3rd, diminished 7th, etc.) on the Grand Staff Magnetic Board.

Idea 1: This can be taught on both the keyboard and the staff. Quiz your students’ knowledge of basic intervals by creating an interval with the color dot magnets then having them solve it. You can flip the activity around by asking your student to create their own 3rds, 4ths, 7ths, etc.

Idea 2: Teach interval qualities by starting with basic intervals and adding sharps or flats to create major, minor, diminished, or augmented intervals.


Idea 3: Help your students visualize interval inversions by using the color dot magnets to create a 5th then inverting to a 4th. If your student works best hands-on, have them move the lower color dot magnet to the note an octave above to change the inversion and interval.

14) Build chords
Easily teach chords by using the color dot magnets on the keyboard and staff. 

Idea 1: On the keyboard, students can put color dot magnets on the keys they play for each chord. If a student struggles to remember what notes to play, have them put blue dots for the keys they would play and red dots for the keys they would skip (of course, use any color you or your student would like). 

Idea 2: On the staff, start with color dot magnets in triad position. Students can add or remove the accidentals needed and write the quality of each chord with the dry-erase marker. 

Idea 3: It is easy to expand the students’ knowledge of chords by adding a fourth color dot magnet to create a seventh or adding accidentals to change the quality from major to minor, diminished, or augmented.



15) Create inversions

Teach the root, 1st inversion, and 2nd inversion using color dot magnets.

Idea 1: Create a root chord with three different color dot magnets (e.g. root = purple, third = yellow, fifth = pink). Student must create the 1st and 2nd inversions by rearranging which color dot magnet is on the bottom.

Idea 2: Place color dot magnets on the board for various inversions then have the student identify the inversion with the dry-erase marker.

16) Review triad inversion fingering

Instead of fighting finger number battles on the keyboard, take them to the Grand Staff Magnetic Board for more interactive and visual practice.

Idea 1: Review triad inversion fingering on the keys by having the student place the correct finger numbers on the keyboard.


Idea 2: Student can first create the correct inversions on the staff with the color dot magnets then add the number magnets on the side for correct finger numbers.

17) Teach Pentascales

Help your student master their half and whole steps with learning the 12 pentascales. 

Idea 1: Walk a student through the whole and half steps needed to create a pentascale on the keyboard. Ask them to create pentascales in various keys by using the color dot magnets on the keyboard.

Idea 2: When the student has mastered the pentascale on the keyboard, transfer the notes to the staff using color dot magnets.

18) Teach scales & scale fingerings

You can start with the basic C scale and progress to more advanced scale techniques and theory concepts.

Idea 1: Build major or minor scales on the keyboard and on staff with color dot magnets and adding accidental magnets as needed. Students can also build scales starting on other scale degrees (example mediant to mediant).

Idea 2: Strengthen students’ scale finger numbers on both the keyboard and the staff. Students can place number magnets on the correct keys on the keyboard or on the staff. 

19) Teach Scale Degrees

When the student has the basic scale concepts nailed down, bring it to the next level by teaching them scale degrees. Students can use the dry erase marker to write the correct degrees on each scale tone (e.g. Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, etc.).

20) Teach Modes

Modes can be confusing for some students (and teachers!), but visualizing it on the board can make it easier.

Idea 1: Start with the concept of “white-to-white” modes with color dot magnets on the keys or staff (Dorian is D-to-D, Lydian is F-to-F, etc.) and have student identify the whole and half steps. Then, create modes starting on different notes (Dorian starting on G or B). 


Idea 2: Start with color dot magnets creating one mode (e.g. ionian) then add or remove accidentals to create other modes.
21) Teach chord progressions

Add to your student’s working knowledge of chords and scales with chord progressions.

Idea 1: Teach basic chord progressions by first building a major scale with color dot magnets and accidental magnets. Then, build triads from each of the scale tones. Have student identify the quality of the chords for each scale degree (I - ii - iii - IV - V - vi - vii°). From there, you can rearrange the chords to create a composition.

Idea 2: Start with basic chord progressions in any key by placing a color dot magnet for the bass note and having student write the chord progression (e.g. I - IV - V - I). Gradually make the assignments more challenging by creating full chords for the student to identify.

Idea 3: Write a progression with a dry erase marker and have the student create their own voicing. This can be done even at an advanced level with figured bass.

22) Teach cadences

Help your student further establish the cadence knowledge they are learning from their lesson or theory books. 

Idea 1: Teach basic cadences (I - IV - V inversions) by using the color dot magnets. If needed, have the student solve the cadence by writing the correct chord underneath with the dry erase marker.

Idea 2: Teach more advanced cadences by assigning the student a key signature and type of cadence to create with color dot magnets (perfect, plagal, half, deceptive). 



23) Teach key signatures

Any level student can review and master their key signatures on the Grand Staff Magnetic Board.

Idea 1: Call out a key signature (major or minor) and student must put the correct sharps or flats in place on the Grand Staff.

Idea 2: Use the back of the board to minimize distraction. Mix up the letter magnets and have the student rearrange the letters to the correct order of sharps or flats. When student is confident in this, time them to see how quickly they can get the correct order.


24) Transposition

Students can easily practice transposing to both different keys and octaves/clefs.

Idea 1: Select a portion of melody from the student’s music and ask them to transpose it to a different key using color dot magnets on the Grand Staff.

Idea 2: Have your student compose a four-six note melody then transpose it to a completely different key using the accidental magnets.

Idea 3: Rewrite the melody in the same pitch on other clefs (e.g. Create a short melody in Treble Clef and rewrite it in Alto Clef).

Idea 4: Rewrite the melody in a different octave. Start with the melody in the Treble Clef and have student place color magnet dots in the Bass Clef or vice versa.

Bonus ideas!

Here are even more ideas to utilize in your piano studio!

25) Color coded learning

The nine different colors match the colors for diatonic bells or Boomwhackers®. The Grand Staff Magnetic Board can be an extension of your current teaching method.


26) Solfege activities

The eight solfege magnets provide the perfect foundation for solfege activities on the staff or keyboard–and can be used for voice lessons in addition to piano lessons.


27) Rhythm activities
Create simple rhythm games with the color dot magnets. One idea is to give students 5 color dot magnets and have them create 1-measure rhythms in 4/4 time. How many variations can the student come up with?




28) Utilize the back of the board

The blank back of the board has the same erasable & magnetic surface as the front of the board and provides many opportunities for writing or teaching various concepts. For one example, you can make a customized spinner game by drawing a circle, adding the various concepts on the “pie slices,” and attaching a magnetic plastic arrow spinner. Additionally, you can use Rhythm Magnet Tiles to expand your activities and have students create rhythm segments on the back of the board.



29) Use the Grand Staff Magnetic Board in virtual/online lessons

Virtual students succeed with solid visualization. You can do almost all these activities virtually, and if your student purchases their own Grand Staff Magnetic Board, they can still benefit with hands-on activities.


30) Bring the Grand Staff Magnetic Board to college

The Grand Staff Magnetic Board doesn’t need to be limited to in-studio use for 8-year-olds. Even college students can benefit from using the Grand Staff Magnetic Board to help them visualize theory, counterpoint, and composition assignments.


Do you have more ideas?

The more we think about the Grand Staff Magnetic Board, the more ideas we come up with! I’m sure you have your own ideas that would make this a great teaching tool in your studio. 

How would you use the Grand Staff Magnetic Board in your studio? Please comment and share your ideas! We’d love to hear what else you think of!

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 And don't forget!

This week you can get the free printable word cards to use in your studio!

 >>> Get the word cards here

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