Thursday, June 16, 2011

Question of the Week: Explaining Arpeggios

Even though my students span a wide range of ages and skill levels, it always seems that I'll find myself in a pedagogical rut- ie- invariably there will be a chunk that's learning a certain concept all at the same time or within a relatively short span.

This time it's arpeggios. I've taught the concept of scales and arpeggios countless times, but as I've found myself doing so with increased frequency recently, I was curious to see how other teachers explain the idea of an arpeggio for the first time. Do you have any magic analogies that seem to work really well for presenting the concept? Do you use the same formula, or cater to each student's learning styles, teaching some the concept visually and some aurally? Do you approach arpeggios in lessons before they're introduced in music books, or wait until it's been covered?

I'd love to hear other teachers' thoughts- and look for a follow-up post from me tomorrow on more about this issue.


  1. I teach 5 finger scales the first year every week for months and then it seems natural to do arpeggios starting with white keys and we do them week after week for months until they know them well. Then we go back to ther 5 finger scales and pick up all the keys and then back to arpeggios. I do this the first 3 minutes of the lesson.

  2. I use the Dozen a Day technique books (which are adorable and kids of all ages love them - including me!) They naturally transition from simple technique exercises right through full formula pattern scales and arpeggios. They are great exercises for introducing arpeggios, and you can have a lot of discussions around the pieces.

  3. Thanks for your suggestions! I typically use the PA technique books and supplement with 5-finger patterns, then move on to scales/arpeggios when I feel the student is ready, but that's always been something I've done on my own- not with any kind of method book. I might have to check Dozen-a-Day out more carefully. I have used it in the past...