I mentioned in a post earlier this spring that February was scale month in our studio (and as it turned out, March as well). I’ve found that it’s easiest for my students and I to make it through all of our yearly musicianship goals when we place an emphasis on one or two things at a time, rather than juggle several things at each lesson. We tend to work on sightreading and rhythm skills at the beginning of the school year, fit in ear training during the holiday months (when practice is a little on the sporadic side), then turn to scale and chord patterns and other theory in the spring (to coincide with annual theory exams).
With spring theory exams around the corner, much of our focus on scales over the past months has been on how scales and chords are constructed. A couple of years ago, I made a set of scale step footprint cards that we use to practice scale construction away from the piano. This spring, I decided to make a set of visual aids using the same graphic to help some of my students work on scales at the piano as well:
Scale pattern cards that fit behind piano keys are a great help to visual learners. They’re also a handy tool to slow down kinesthetic learners who are tempted to blast through new scales quickly without taking the time to think through the step patterns.
These cards are certainly not an original idea – you can find several sets of different scale cards available for download and purchase. I’ve just always liked these little footprint graphics, so decided to make a set of my own! This set includes pattern cards for major, natural and harmonic minor scales, along with major and minor 5-finger patterns (pentascales). You can download a printable file with all of the diagrams from the link at the bottom of this post, or on the studio aids page.
(Hint: For best printing results, you’ll want to download the file, rather than just printing from your internet browser. In the print dialog box, set the PDF file to print with “no scaling” so that the diagrams print to the correct size to match your piano keys.)
I also made up a set of worksheets that students could use to practice constructing major and minor scales, using the appropriate formula of whole and half steps shown at the top of each page:
You can find links to download both worksheets at the bottom of the post. They’re also available on the theory sheets page.
Looking for a more in-depth scale and pattern resource? Check out the reproducible Technique Tone-Ups worksheets available in the studio store, that guide students through creating their own scale book, complete with level-appropriate chords and arpeggios.