Whole steps and half steps… is it possible to drill those concepts TOO much with elementary students??? We write and identify them each week in lessons as we work through our technique patterns and warm-ups, we play games with them in group lessons, we identify them in our repertoire pieces… and yet I still fear that under the pressure of a theory exam, some of my students will crack and identify E to F as a whole step! (They’re just white keys, right? :)).
Last year, I made up a little whole and half step game to prep my students for theory exams. We’ve now played that particular game enough times that I was ready for something new! Crazy Keys is a simple keyboard race game we used in group lessons this month to reinforce whole and half steps, sharps and flats.
To play, each student selects a playing piece and places it on middle C (the worms in the picture were a discount find at a local teacher supply store that have become favorites with my students). One student begins by drawing a game card and following it’s instructions (i.e. “Move up 5 half steps”, “Move down to B-flat”, etc.). Students continue taking turns drawing cards and moving their game pieces until one reaches the top of the keyboard. If you’re pressed for time, you can easily adjust the length of the game by starting on a higher C.
I’m always amazed at the power of theory games to get students to drill at length things they would otherwise find boring. My students thought they had hit the jackpot when they drew cards that asked them to map out 10 whole steps in a row!
The game cards are available for download on my studio website (scroll down to “Crazy Keys”). The first 4 pages of the file are the instruction cards, the last page is an optional graphic that can be printed as card backs.