As the newsletter editor or the Suzuki Association of Utah newsletter, I get to read a lot of great articles about teaching. I particularly liked this one from the SAU Flute VP about memorizing key signatures. This is one of my goals for my Book 4+ students this year.
I was also thrilled because I just received a new shipment of key signature dice. I've had the dice with the basic key signatures (C, G, D, A, F, and B-flat), but I've had several requests for the more advanced key signatures, so here they are!
Memorizing All Major Key Signatures
By Katrina Young
Since the Utah Suzuki Flute players are learning their major scales for our SAU Sweet Scale competition on October 12th, I thought I would include some tricks and incentives that have helped my studio in the past to learn and memorize their scales.
For visual learners: I adapted this idea from Cindy Henderson. Cindy includes in her student flute journal the note names of the scales written out with the sharps and flats circled. I realized that some of my students would respond better with color and being able to focus on only one scale at a time. I made these major scale flip charts for my students. If you would like to make a set for yourself, they can be downloaded here.
For Kinesthetic learners: I give these students the following worksheets. By writing down the letter names of the scales themselves, they understand how the scales are formed and why we have a circle of 5ths and 4ths. Using the sharp major scale worksheet, I walk students through how we move around the circle of 5ths. We start with the C major scale. Have students count up to the 5th note of the C major scale (G) and this is how we find what the next scale will be around the circle of 5ths. They fill in the next set of boxes starting with G. To find what note will be sharped in this scale, the rule is to always add the sharp to the 7th note or degree of the scale. In the G major scale this is F#. When the worksheet is finished, it leaves students with a handy chart to refer back to. You can download these worksheets here.
Make up a sentence to help you remember the circle of 5ths and 4ths: Cindy Henderson uses these sentence “gimmicks” in her studio. For the sharp keys in order around the circle of 5ths she says:
God Destroyed All Earth By Fire of Course.
# of sharps in key: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
For the Flat keys going around the circle of 4ths she says:
b b b b b b
Fat Boys Eat Apple Dumplings Greedily of Course.
# of flats in the key: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
My own eight year old daughter made up a sharp order sentence the other day. It is silly, but it helped her memorize the order in one day: Good Dogs Always Eat Breakfast Fastly and Cleanly! Make up your own sentence! It will stick in your head better.
Make an incentive to learn them: Each student in my studio has a fishy scale card from susanparadis.com. As they pass off one of their scales, I fill in a scale on their fish card. Once they learn all of their scales for the sweet scale competition, they will get a box of Swedish fish! Sometimes, incentives such as these really help when things seem hard to learn.