This year the studio held its third annual piano party, and over the years I have learned some dos and don'ts. I hope this post will be a help to you as you plan a fun-filled get-together for you students.
1. Ask yourself: Who is the piano party going to be geared toward?
Choose one or two of the following age groups: adults, young people, or children. Defining who the party will be geared for helps you determine the kind of games that you will have at your party. Personally, I have found it works well to combine young people (ages 12-17) and children (ages 4-11) at my summer piano party where they enjoy outdoor games, and to host a separate winter/spring piano party for my adult students (ages 18+) where we play musical board games.
2. Plan, organize, and prep age-appropriate games. A successful piano party doesn't just happen, it is planned and organized. Since the games are a very important of the event, be sure to have the games (and the supplies they need like tape, balls, glue, buckets, markers, towels, water balloons, etc.) ready the day before. To accomplish this, I use an old-fashioned pen and paper, write down the title of each game, and list every little thing I need to play the game. As I get the materials, I check them off my list.
3. Alternate the kind of the games throughout the party. At summer piano party, I start with a music game such as What Note Am I? to introduce all the students to each other. Next, is an energetic game such as an obstacle course; I always have it soon after the party starts because it needs to be set up before they arrive and takes up most of the backyard. After the energetic game, switch to a more relaxing game like Musical Chairs, and so forth. By alternating your piano party games in this manner, you will ensure that your guests stay engaged during the party and do not get overheated (if it is hot outside).
4. Use at least one game with water balloons or a sprinkler, if you are having a summer piano party. This lets the guests get cooled off, and helps reduce the chances of guests overheating. However, make sure you do these games in the middle of your event so guests have time to dry off. :)
5. Use Pinterest to help spark your creativity when it comes finding group games. Remember, many group games can be adapted to be "musical".
6. Use a tote bag or small bin to gather all the "little" stuff for the games/crafts. The day before the party, begin placing all the "little" stuff you need (pens, paper, card games, craft supplies, etc.) into a tote bag or small bin. On the piano party day, I place the bin on a card table in a corner of the yard/room for easy access, and store larger items for the games (i.e. balls, pool noodles, hula-hoops, etc.) underneath the table. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the day will go.
7. Be flexible. Even though I spend hours planning everything in great detail, I have learned that some games are more successful than others. For my students, the obstacle course, musical chairs, and water balloon baseball are super fun games that we play every year; however, to keep things fresh, I do change up the obstacles of the course. This year, water balloon baseball lasted so long that we ran out of time for the other game I had planned, but I didn't mind because the students were all enjoying the water balloons (and so was I).