As I’ve been prepping students for theory exams this spring, one of my goals as a teacher has been to find a “hands-on” way to work on each concept. This week many of my students were working on identifying and building major and minor scales, so I created a set of manipulative cards to help us:
First, I asked students to lay out the scale cards to show the pattern of whole and half steps for major scales, and underneath lay out the pattern of steps in natural minor scales (not pictured). Next, I marked the notes of a scale on the keyboard and asked students to use the scale step cards to identify the distance between each pitch of the scale. They then were able to compare their cards to the major and minor “formulas” and identify the type of scale. Once they were successful on the keyboard, we moved to the staff:
I also designed a follow-up worksheet that I assigned as homework for the week (there are more questions on the back):
Both the scale step cards and worksheet are available on my website. The cards are available on the Theory Flashcard Page (scroll to the bottom) and the worksheet is available on the Theory Sheets Page.
(Note: The cloth keyboard and transparency note & clef cut-outs pictured are from the TCW Resources Kreative Keyboard and Game Material Packets. I typically make most of my studio materials rather than purchase them, but this is one investment I’ve used over and over in lessons. The staff board pictured is a simple dry erase board with narrow electrical tape applied to create staff lines.)