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Ask Diane

 

Ladybug Lessons

“I purchased ladybug squeezies for all of my students and I totally love them – each student named their ladybug and the names run from Bob to Piano Bug.  BUT….my lack of imagination stops by having them put their hands over the ladybug and squeeze and the hand formation is totally perfect.  Then they try to release the ladybug without moving their fingers and can’t accomplish that feat.  Can you help please?”

Here are some Ladybug Lessons: 

#1  LADYBUG HAND

Put the student’s dominant hand on the piano keys as flat as they possibly can. (I usually say “flat as a pancake.”)

  • Take a ladybug and help them place it carefully one under that hand. Line up the arch of their hands with the highest part of the ladybug. Make sure their thumb is going around the mouth of the ladybug, not on top with their other fingers. Their thumb should be in the same position it would be if they were playing – on its side. Ask them how it feels. Is it different when it’s flat? How does it feel when it’s on top of the ladybug?

  • Ask them to gently squeeze the ladybug in the this position a few times. Just enough to get the feeling of support under their hand. 

  • Take the ladybug out and ask them to put it back under their own hand themselves. This is usually challenging. You’ll probably have to help them understand where each finger goes and have to help them several times before they’ll be able do it on their own. This might take place over several lessons.)

That’s enough for one lesson. Send them home with a ladybug to put on their home piano. Ask them to practice squeezing it ten times each day with each hand before they practice. 

#2 MATCHING HANDS

Carefully help put a ladybug under each of the student’s hands.

  • Gently alternate squeezing the ladybugs.

  • Remove one ladybug and see if they can maintain the same position in the hand without the ladybug support. 

  • Switch hands and try it again. Usually one hand will be better at this. 
     

#3 LADYBUG PLAYTIME

  • Experiment with gentle playing a few keys with the ladybug keeping the hand in the correct position.

  • Move up and down the keyboard while holding the ladybug

  • Play groups (clusters) of both black and white keys. 
     

I’m sure that you will each come up with your own interesting ways to use Ladybugs. These are just a few that I’ve tried with great success. The most important thing the Ladybug teaches is what a supported, strong hand feels like. With persistence and motivation, this hand position can be internalized.

Ladybugs are successful because kids and adults like the look and feel of them. Students are always happy when I pull one out to use during a lesson. (In great contrast to their response to my previous tedious verbal reminders.)

I put ladybug stickers at the beginning of the piece to remind students to check for “Ladybug Hand” before they start. If there’s a place in the piece where they need a reminder, I’ll put another sticker there. 

Let me know what ways you’ve found to use Ladybugs and I’ll add them to the list! 
 

“Diane, I just wanted to thank you for your wonderful and creative teaching ideas and suggestions.  LOVE the ladybug idea; I ordered a supply and have been giving them to both new and continuing students at all levels with amazing results!  All I have to say is ‘ladybug hand’ and they get it!”

© 2019 by Diane Hidy

You'll wonder how you ever taught without this 32-page book. I made these cards for my students to give them plenty of opportunities to practice all the different skills they were acquiring. This series starts with the simplest possible rhythmic patterns on the Landmark notes Middle C, Bass F and Treble G. Each set becomes incrementally more difficult.

Here are a few of the many different ways to use these cards:

  • Encourage students to write in their own fingering. This paves the way for making true fingering choices later on

  • Circle the thirds before starting to read the flashcards. This helps the student focus on the difference between steps and skips.

  • Help your student write in their own staccatos and slurs. Try them out. Talk to them about why they do or don't like them. 

  • Help the student add dynamics and phrase marks.

  • Print these in their entirety and use them as a book.

  • Print them on heavy paper or card stock and cut them into separate cards. Trying sending home a set with a student and ask them to become proficient with each one. At the next lesson, mix them up and play them in random order. It’s a nice combination of preparation and reading.