The summer is a great time to practice! Students don’t usually have as many responsibilities and often can spend too much time bored, watching TV, playing video games—all kinds of things which are fine in moderation, but certainly not very productive. Especially for homeschool students that may only get music in class once a week, summer is a prime time to practice.

A great way to motivate your students is to offer them little rewards for their achievements. I’ve set some goals below for learning scales, arpeggios, and chords, and even made some suggestions for a practice routine.

Some suggestions for rewards:

  • For each scale: maybe a milkshake, ice cream cone, Dutch Brothers, etc. for every scale learned (memorized).
  • For each extra credit: maybe a CD or iTunes download for each extra credit mastered on top of the scale, or something along those lines.
  • For completing the whole goal for their group, maybe take them out to a special dinner or a concert, that is a HUGE accomplishment! Celebrate! Tell them how proud you re of them!

I recommend students separate their practice into fifteen-minute increments at most (never practice more than fifteen minutes on one musical component). What components? Glad you asked. Here is a suggestion:

preactice components

  1. Scales: The focus of this post, because you can’t make music without them. I have attached the Piano Scale Fingerings for piano players.
  2. Chords: As above
  3. Time/Rhythm: I will be sending out some helps on rhythm work later this week.
  4. Repertoire/Material The music we have assigned, is in your books, or other music you are working on and learning.

 

Learning Scales and Chords: the Building Blocks of the Language of Music

  1. KAB Kids and Teen KAB, or any student that does not yet know any scales, or maybe they know just one scale:
  • Make it a goal this summer to master four Major scales: C, G, D, and F. For younger students (KAB Kids and students 10 and under) I recommend beginning with just *one octave.
  • *Extra credit or shooting even higher: Learn the diatonic series in at least one of these keys.

 

  1. Brass Lab or any student that knows at least two or three Major scales:
  • Make it a goal this summer to master at least half of your Major scales (six): C, G, D, A, F, and Bb. For Brass Lab and piano students 10 and under I recommend beginning with just *one octave. The link above will take you to the Major scales for all band instruments. Scroll down to the page with your instrument (Bb Trumpet or Trombone) and print up that page.
  • *Extra credit or shooting even higher: Learn the diatonic series (or arpeggio for brass players) in at least half of these keys.

 

  1. Students that know FOUR or more Major Scales:
  • Make it a goal this summer to master at least TEN of your Major scales: C, G, D, A, E, and B; F, Bb, Eb, and Ab. For younger students (KAB Kids and students 10 and under) I recommend beginning with just *one octave.
  • *Extra credit or shooting even higher: Learn the diatonic series (or arpeggio for brass players) in at least half of these keys.

 

  1. Students that know ALL of their Major scales:
  • If you know them only in one octave, make it a goal this summer to master at least TEN of your Major scales in two octaves.
  • Make it a goal this summer to learn at least SIX of your Harmonic and Melodic minor scales: C, G, D, A, E, and B. If you need help with these, let me know.
  • The harmonic minor build is root, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7(natural 7—the same as the Major), and 8.
  • The melodic minor build is root, 2, b3, 5, 6, 7, and 8 ascending (on the way up). On the way down the 6 and 7 are lowered, 8, b7, b6, 5, 4, b3, 2, and root.
  • *Extra credit or shooting even higher: Learn the diatonic series (or arpeggio for brass players) in at least half of these keys.

 

*Using the two-octave scale chart to play one octave: If you are using the attached scale chart, simply exchange the 5 for 1 on the right hand and the 1 for 5 on the left hand. This means that the scale always ends on the pinky on the right hand at the top note and the thumb on the left on for the top note.

 

Example Scale learning routine:

Monday, Wednesday: 5 minutes on notes 1-4 (scale 1). Friday: 2 minutes on notes 1-4, 3 minutes on notes 5-8. Run scales you already know for proficiency (2-5 minutes).

Groups 1-2: By working one new scale every other week (week 1, 3, 5, and 7) you will have FOUR new scales mastered by the end of the summer!

Groups 3-4: By working one new scale every ten days you will have SIX new scales mastered by the end of the summer!

Follow the same routine for great success with the diatonic series or arpeggios. Horn players, play your arpeggios as whole notes, focus on great sound and accuracy.

Remember to take five minutes of fun in every fifteen minutes of practice. A great way to work this with scales is to make spontaneous music (make it up!) using the scales and diatonic chords.
Practice no more than fifteen minutes in one sitting on one of the four major components without a break.

 

Some fun Games and Online Tools for keeping up with music reading and ear training:

Playing notes on the piano

A fun virtual keyboard

Recognizing notes (reading notes, this is a great tool)

Another great note recognition game (it’s a whack a mole)

A great call and response game (great for ear training)

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