Monday, April 4, 2011

New Scale and Arpeggio Visual Teaching Aids

Here are some new studio aids I'm in the process of developing. Over the past year I've been using strictly visual aids for teaching scales to my students. I've found that picturing the scale patterns by seeing them laid out on the keyboard is much more effective than trying to read the scale books. This was most dramatically demonstrated this spring when I had some transfer students who used scale books and were struggling with learning and executing new scales as we got to the keys that had more accidentals. One week I decided to remove the scale book and replace it with visuals- and what a difference it made!

I just recently discovered Natalie Wickham's excellent scale charts on her Music Matters blog. I'd been using visual scales before, but was a bit disappointed that the version I was using didn't have all the sharp and flat key signatures. Natalie's version has every key! I'm excited to start using them with my students- thank you Natalie for your work. :)

I love these visual scale aids, but I had been unsuccessful with finding any type of visual aid for learning I'm making my own! Here is a picture of how they're turning out. If you notice, I use the 'traditional' 5-3-2-1 LH fingering- any thoughts on that? I'd be happy to revise to include 5-4-2-1 if some teachers prefer that...

I've gotten through all of the Major keys at this point. It's taken me a bit longer to work these up than I originally anticipated, but I hope to move on to minors soon. If you think these would be helpful for your students, please feel free to print them out! My only stipulation is that you let me know how they work and give me some good feedback! :)

In addition to this, I've designed my own scale spinners! WOOHOO! I've wanted to do something like this for a while. I love the musical dice that Joy has over at Color in my Piano, but as I teach from two locations and in students' homes and take a bag(s) with me, anything 3-D isn't likely to last too long! You're welcome to use these as well. They're a bit more detailed (they have all the flat and sharp key signatures on them) so if you're looking for something a bit more simplified, please let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Both of these documents are available under the printables tab of my blog.

I didn't get nearly all the work accomplished last week that I was hoping to, but I got some projects started. Stay tuned for more updates and hopefully some completed projects this coming week!


  1. My teacher taught me that if the arpeggio begins on a black note, then use finger 4. Otherwise, use finger 3. (The exception to that is the Gflat/Fsharp arpeggio.) That is what seems to work for me, but its also what I was taught! I don't necessarily make my students do it that way, depending on their individual hand size, etc.

  2. Thanks for your feedback Nicole. That's the way I learned as well. I usually start with this fingering, and then if it seems to be a problem I offer my students the other fingering option.