As I mentioned last week, I love to incorporate a variety of games to reinforce and evaluate music theory concepts with my students. This week we tried a Speedy Scale game to help students develop visual-spatial skills (they weren’t allowed to look at the piano keyboard, but had to visualize it in their mind) and put their music scale theory knowledge into practice (they’ve all been memorizing scale patterns this year to earn Mental Miles as part of our Vanishing Voices practice incentive theme)!
Daniel caught on really quickly, so I talked him into doing a step-by-step video of how to play this game during a lesson:
Here’s a snapshot of the supplies needed:
- Two complete octaves of scale blocks (see here for a post on how to make your own scale blocks!)
- A set of plain blocks with each one containing only one note name
- A block with Major and Minor written on alternating sides
- A block with a sharp, flat, and natural sign drawn on alternating sides
This is a quick, fun activity that is easily adaptable to students of all ages and levels. Since Alyssa just started lessons last fall she is just finishing up learning all of her Major pentascales. So in her case, I just had her select a block with a note name and then roll the sharp, flat, natural sign block, then arrange the scale blocks according to the pattern for the Major pentascale.
After students had drawn a note name block from my hand and rolled the other two blocks, I walked them through this process for figuring out the arrangement of the scale blocks:
- Find the two scale blocks with the given key name (Stephanie’s was e-flat minor, so she found the two e-flats and placed them at the beginning and end).
- Fill in the remaining note names in alphabetical order with no regard for which ones are sharps or flats.
- Review the pattern for the given type of scale (we just used the Major and natural minor scales today) and write it out on the board if necessary.
- Begin with the “tonic” and work your way through the whole and half steps, rotating the blocks as necessary to represent the scale (a couple of times when students were tempted to switch out a block for something else – especially those pesky white key flats and sharps – it was essential that they remember they could only use the block that was next alphabetically!).
Each of the students thoroughly enjoyed this activity, and it was neat to see how much they improved just in the short 5-10 minutes we used at the beginning of the lesson!