In September of last year I made several sets of scale blocks. I’ve been using them periodically during lessons, but I decided to make more of a concerted effort to use them as a teaching and reinforcement tool with my students. Joey just finished learning all of his major scales, thanks to the aid and motivation of the scale chart in the front of his assignment book. Before we move on to the minor scales I told him that I want him to be able to immediately recall how many sharps or flats each key has and what they are. For example, I would say, “A Major” and he would reply, “3 sharps – F#,C#,G#.” I decided that step one toward that goal would be memorizing the order of sharps and flats. Enter: scale blocks!
After discussing how to figure out the pattern initially, Joey arranged the blocks in the correct order. I timed him and it took 25 seconds. I gave him 2 more chances to beat his time and he decreased it substantially each time, with a final time of 7 seconds. Next week at his lesson he’s going to see if he can beat that record! We repeated the same process with the flats. Part of his assignment this week is to write the complete order out on the staff in his manuscript book each day of the week in both bass and treble clef while saying their names out loud.
We both had fun and decided that using scale blocks is a great way to memorize the order of sharps and flats!
I’m going to continue trying to squeeze out my creative juices to come up with other fun ways to use the scale blocks. Does anyone else have any ideas they’d be willing to share?