The Difference A U-Turn Can Make In Playing Scales


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…


DIY Music Theory Manipulatives!

I found this bucket of dominoes on a recent trip to Tuesday Morning for around $5! If your local store doesn’t have it you can get it on for $14.99. The bucket comes with 250 blank dominoes in 5 different colors. I am using the dominoes to help piano students learn to spell scales and build chords.

Using a sharpie, I wrote the letters of the music alphabet on individual dominoes. Then I drew sharps and flats on the dominoes as well. You will notice that I chose to use orange for all the sharps and blue for all the flats. There are more than enough dominoes to make a complete set of each of the 12 major scales without even using all of them. I ended up having a whole set of red dominoes left over to use for something else. I might use one side for numbers 1-7 and the other side for Roman Numerals to help students learn the scale degrees.

It took me about an hour to draw all the letter names and symbols, so if you’ve got an hour to spare now for this project it could save you several hours in the future because you can surely use this for teaching lots of theory concepts. An added bonus is that it is self – containing. The bucket easily stores all the pieces in one place!