If you’ve been following my last few posts, you know that my students are in the middle of a Scales Links Challenge. To help them remember the notes for the scales I’ve recorded some original scale songs. You can download the A Major Scale song, “A-A-A I Like To Play” for free here!
Here’s a quick way to help students understand where scales end and how LOTS (most?) of the songs they are learning move:
You wake up in the morning at home and you go to various places throughout the day, but you don’t move in with somebody else at the end of the day – you go back home!
Musical translation #1- when playing your scales you will end on the same note you started with.
Musical translation #2 – Songs often end on their key note. For example if a song is in the key of G Major its last note is typically G.
Some piano students can’t help but play the top note of the scale twice before descending. No matter how many times you tell them not to repeat that note they still repeat it. This happened with one student this week and out of nowhere I said, “Hey make a U-turn once you get to the top.” Now this student definitely does not have a driver’s license – she’s only 6 – but she definitely understood the concept and she did not repeat that top note! You just never know what word or illustration will make it click for a piano student…
Yesterday I came across a set of balls in my studio like the ones you see at places like Chuck E Cheese where the kids can get in a pit and just have a good time. I had purchased them a while ago knowing that eventually I’d get an idea about how to use them to teach music. Well yesterday was the day the idea finally arrived! SONGWRITING BALLS!
This is an activity that can be done with any instrument, not just piano!
The balls conveniently come in 5 colors. I purchased mine at Wal Mart. Of course in my mind the number 5 screams PENTATONIC SCALE. So, I chose one note of the pentatonic scale for each color. C – red, D – orange, E- blue, G- green, and A-yellow and wrote these one the balls. I made 5 sets of each color.
To play the game (which is really writing a song), place all the balls in a large hat or bag.
Then, using a composing worksheet such as the ones you can find on Susan Paradis’ site, determine how many balls to draw from the bag. You will need one for each note of the song.
Each time a ball is drawn from the bag, write the note name in the appropriate space on the composing worksheet.
Since we are only using the pentatonic scale for this song, any combination should sound nice. You could also specify that the first ball drawn will be the first and last not of the song.
Once you’ve got all the notes written on the worksheet, it’s time to play your new masterpiece!
Extensions – Add lyrics!
Use the G and C balls to demonstrate V-I progression. Add this to the end of your song to show how lots of songs end this way. Have your student play G-C up and down the chosen instrument.