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Remember the first time you went bowling?
Think back to your first bowling trip. You’re a really small child. You are so excited to go for the first time, and it’s your turn. The moment you’ve been waiting for! So you carry the huge bowling ball over to the bowling lane and give it a roll.
You quickly learn that it is so hard to roll the ball straight and knock over any pins because it keeps rolling into the gutter. Every. Single. Time.
Disappointing! Sad! Frustrating! No fun at all!
But you want to bowl! It looks like so much fun! Your older brother and sister are bowling, and your parents, and their friends, and having a wonderful time. But you are struggling because it’s too hard and a bit out of your reach.
So your parents ask the staff to put bumpers into the gutters.
And now it’s your turn again. In your mind, everything is on the line. It’s make-it-or-break-it time.
You heave the ball down the lane and wait, breathless.
The ball rolls into the bumper, and doesn’t go in the gutter! It bounces off the bumpers like a slow-motion pinball, and …….
Oh, the wait is excruciating …….
Success! A strike! With the bumpers in place, your ball isn’t rolling into the gutter anymore! You’re knocking down pins! Bowling is so much fun now, you’re scoring points, and you’re having a terrific time. All because you got the help you needed to be successful.
That’s exactly what First Steps to Superstar Scales does for beginning pianists, no matter the age or stage of learning. It’s a beginning piano technique book that provides the “bumpers” that students need until they are ready to “bowl” on their own.
THIS PENTASCALES BOOK WAS CREATED ESPECIALLY FOR LEARNERS WHO:
- Are any age
- Aren’t reading on the entire grand staff yet
- Are visual learners
- Prefer to have a reference sheet
- May not necessarily enjoy or do well remembering what they learned via rote teaching
- Simplified circle of fifths
- All major pentascales, cross-hand arpeggios, and broken & block chords
- All minor pentascales, cross-hand arpeggios, and broken & block chords
- Activity page to go along with each pentascale
- “This book belongs to” student page
- Teacher pages
- Helpful hints
- Printing and binding instructions
- Student certificate of completion
Terrific to teach and reinforce:
- Piano technique
- Proper hand & finger position
- Sharps and flats
- Music theory
- And so much more!
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THIS BOOK?
The study of piano scales, chords, and arpeggios is extremely important to a pianist’s development. Beginning students of all ages will become Pentascales Superstars as they work through this valuable beginning piano technique book of pentascales, broken & block chords, and cross-hand arpeggios in all major and minor keys.
- It’s written in large, friendly notation. “Helper notes” (also called “Alphanotes”, “notes with letters”, and “letter noteheads” are used throughout this book to guide students to the correct piano keys.
- This gets little ones playing on the staff quickly and makes them feel “big” because they are “reading” the notes on the staff just like the “big kids”.
- And it helps older learners feel confident from the very beginning. This is so motivating for any age!
- There are no key signatures. This book is meant to be used early in a student’s study, before key signatures are introduced.
- Accidentals are written within the pentascales, chords, and arpeggios.
- This is a wonderful way to help students remember which finger plays a black key, or which note is a black key.
- This book includes an activity page for every key and introduces and reviews the pentascales in multiple ways:
- Coloring the correct piano keys of the pentascale
- Naming/spelling the letters of the pentascales
- Tracing the pentascales on the staff
- Memorizing each pentascale, chord, and arpeggio
- Teaching each item can be done in a variety of ways:
- By rote
- By discovery (my favorite way)
- Directly from the book, etc.
The colorful pages in First Steps to Superstar Scales are especially great for visual learning styles. These sheets can be used on your iPad or other tablet, you can use them without binding them like in the photo above, and you can also print and bind them for student use.
WHY DO I LIKE MY BEGINNING STUDENTS TO DO SIMILAR THINGS AS MY MORE ADVANCED STUDENTS?
- Because of the hierarchical learning principles of Bloom’s Taxonomy
- To develop higher order thinking skills from the beginning
- To create an environment of highly personalized learning
- To fully prepare them to play octave scales and arpeggios, chord progressions, lead sheets, and a variety of other musical elements and styles
A few helpful hints:
Even with my youngest students, I refer to each item (pentascale, chord, arpeggio) with the correct name from the beginning, and I’ll give a nickname at times along with the correct name to help my student remember how to play it. They love the “cartwheel arpeggio”/“arpeggio cartwheel”. I even have them do a cartwheel in the studio to help drive the point home!
Sometimes students will mix up the names of each item (pentascale, chord, arpeggio) or not remember them at all, so the names are also included on every pentascale page for reference and review.
I want my beginning students to be comfortable and confident moving around the piano keys into different “hand positions”, and I don’t want them to feel like they are stuck in a single position. (C position, Middle C position, etc.). I don’t want them to think the piano key E is a “3”.
PRINTING & BINDING OPTIONS:
- Print the pages you need for each student front/back – Print a test page first, and be sure your printer is set to “short binding” so the pages print in the same direction front and back.
- Print the Circle of 5ths page as your first front/back page, and the A-flat minor as your last front/back page. Your printed book should look just like it does in the video so the activity page and pentascale page of each key are visible when the book is open.
- Then print each individual page that you want to include in your student books: Cover page, “this book belongs to” page, certificate, etc.
- **HINT: you can click and drag the pages within the thumbnails of the PDF to put them in the order you need!
- Cheapest option: Print each key as you need it, hole punch, and add to your student’s binder. Simple, cheap, and perfect.
- Another option: If you have a binding machine, print double-sided and bind for each student. This is what I do, and what you see in the video.
- Easiest option: Have the book printed and bound at a local office supplies store. This may be more expensive, but it is probably the easiest option overall.
- Pricing on each option will vary.
Here are my favorite recommendations for a binding machine, binding spines, laminator, laminating sheets, and 3-hole punch. These tools have made my life so much easier! And more fun! 😀 And they’re the best tools for putting together the perfect beginning piano technique books for your students.
- Bostitch 3-hole punch: The best 3-hole punch I have ever owned.
- Swingline Laminator: Does an excellent job! Really – it’s absolutely fantastic and I love it.
- Apache laminating pouches: Work perfectly with the Swingline laminator, and I much prefer these pouches over the Swingline pouches.
- Swingline Binding System: What I use to bind printable books & worksheets for my piano students
- REUSABLE binding spines: These are my favorite! If I need to add pages to a student workbook that I’ve made, it’s really easy to open the spines, add the pages I need, and close them.
What do students do next?
After my beginners finish the First Steps to Superstar Scales book, they are ready to move on to other technique books.
Click here for the original Superstar Scales piano technique book – octave scales, octave arpeggios, and I-IV-I-V7-I chord progressions.
I also use flash cards (a set that includes sharp and flat notes as well as no accidentals) to help my students learn scales & chords. Read more here!
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