10 Essential Piano Teacher Tools for Teaching Scales

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10 Essential Piano Teacher Tools for Teaching Scales

Every piano student is unique, with varying levels of skill, different learning styles and paces, and individual strengths.

The task of teaching scales highlights the need for a variety of tools and resources tailored for each unique student.

Whether you’re teaching an energetic seven-year-old their first C Major pentascale, helping a teen overcome the challenge of minor scales, or guiding an adult learner to enhance their improvisation skills through a deeper understanding of scales, having the right tools for teaching scales is essential.


Here are 10 Essential Tools for Teaching Scales

Here are my absolute favorite piano teacher tools for teaching scales.

I use many of these tools every single day, I highly recommend then, and I couldn’t wait to write about them and share them with you.


Vinyl Floor Keyboard for Visualizing Scales

My vinyl floor keyboard is one of my students’ absolute favorite tools, and one of my favorite tools for teaching scales.

I purchased the keyboard template from The Playful Piano and used the file to custom order this vinyl keyboard banner.

We use it for learning scales and chords, playing piano key twister with the Decide Now app (I’ll share more about the Decide Now app below), and so much more.

My beginners use it for learning piano keys in their very first piano lessons.

We also use the vinyl floor keyboard with a fantastic product called Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots so students can label the piano keys as they’re learning them or label scales and chords.

piano students playing piano keys twister with the vinyl floor keyboard and Decide Now app


Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots for Spelling Scales

My next tool is the set of Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots that I mentioned above.

These Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots are another of my favorite tools for teaching scales.

I love using them with the floor staff and with the vinyl floor keyboard.

They are silicone, sturdy, come in multiple colors, and they are very fun to use.

We use them to spell scales and chords, for composing projects on the floor staff, to learn new notes on the staff, and in many other ways.

You can see the vinyl floor staff, vinyl floor keyboard, Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots, and Boomwhackers in this adorable photo of my piano student.

She is using the Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots to compose a piece with only the letters C, D, E.

When she is finished, she will play her composition on the Boomwhackers pitched percussion tubes.

Then she will play it on the piano to further solidify her understanding of the first few notes of the C scale.

Young piano student composing with the giant floor staff


Vinyl Floor Staff for Notating Scales

My vinyl floor staff that you can see in the photo above is one of the most versatile tools for teaching scales, and I use it all the time.

It is terrific for everything from spelling scales and chords, to playing music note twister, introducing new notes on the staff, composition, and more.

My piano students love using the floor staff with the Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots (see photo above) to spell scales, chords, and create their own compositions.


Music Note Flash Cards for Teaching Scales

In addition to off-bench tools for teaching scales, music note flash cards are a go-to tool that we use both off-bench and on the bench in my piano studio.

We generally think of using music note flash cards for note reading practice.

But we also use them for spelling scales and chords and for learning new key signatures and so much more, as you can see in this photo of my student learning the D Major pentascale.


5 Ways to Use Music Note Flash Cards in Piano Lessons


Boomwhackers for Playing Scales

Boomwhackers are pitched percussion tubes that create a sound when played.

They are a great tool for reinforcing the pitches of scales and chords away from the piano.

They come in multiple rainbow colors, and the colors match the colors of the Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots.

They are the perfect teamwork tool, and we love using them in group piano lessons as well as private lessons.

We love composing with Boomwhackers, practicing rhythms with them, playing ensemble pieces, and spelling scales with them.

If you’re not familiar with Boomwhackers, here’s a short performance so you can see them in action. I promise it is worth watching!


piano students using Boomwhackers


Dry Erase Music Staff Lap Board for Writing Scales

The dry erase music staff lap board is one of the most perfect hands-on tools for teaching scales – specifically for writing scales and chords.

It’s also great for composing short pieces and much more.

It has a music staff on it, which is great for helping students write a scale, spell a scale, visualize a scale, and much more. The 11″x14″ is our favorite.

dry erase music staff lap board for piano lessons, composition, scales, notes on the staff, and more


Note Rush App for Reinforcing Scales

The Note Rush app is a terrific way to review notes on the staff, and my students adore it.

I love that it’s customizable for any number of notes or range of notes, including the notes of a specific scale.

We absolutely love using the Note Rush app to solidify the notes of a new scale as students are learning that scale.

We are so pleased that Joy Morin at Color In My Piano created this fabulous Note Rush chart!

I printed the chart poster-size and we’re using it for our Note Rush note reading challenge, including the specific notes of several scales my students are learning.

Note Rush app challenge chart for piano lessons


Decide Now App for Practicing Scales

Once students have learned a few scales, we use the Decide Now app for iPad.

Students spin the wheel, and whatever letter the wheel lands on is what scale they have to play next.

It creates a tiny element of suspense when we are working through scales in their lesson.

We also use the Decide Now app for piano twister, chord progressions, how many times to play an assignment, and who goes next in an activity.


Scale Tracker Charts for Scales Challenges and Incentives

I love using scale tracker charts to encourage my students to practice their scales.

We use the scale tracker charts, both the student version and the studio version (shown below), which is printed poster size and displayed in my studio.

Print and display the large print-at-home poster or print out the 8.5 x 11 charts to put in your teacher binder so you can see at a glance how each student is doing.

We use both of these charts (student version and studio version) in our superstar scales challenge that we hold every year.

My students learn a scale or two a week and the student who has learned the most scales by the end of the semester wins a small prize.

Download free student scale trackers for your piano students’ binders by clicking here, or scroll the end of this post. 

piano studio scales tracker for piano lessons


Superstar Scales Books for Beginner to Intermediate Students

Speaking of the Superstar Scales challenge, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning the Superstar Scales books.

Superstar Scales is a series of piano scales books that I wrote specifically for students who need a clean, simple, easy approach to learning scales.

These books make learning scales, chords, and arpeggios a fun part of piano practice!

They range from beginning pentascales with alphanotes (the letters are written in the note heads) to two-octave scales and arpeggios plus chord progressions for the intermediate students.

They are available in both instant digital download and in hard copy at https://melodypayne.com/superstar.

Teach piano lessons feeling more energized, more organized, and less stressed with Superstar Scales piano technique books!


In my studio, this is the essential collection of tools for teaching scales in the most effective and memorable ways for each individual student.

So whether you’re teaching that energetic seven year old that we mentioned earlier…

Whether you’re helping a teen student overcome the three forms of minor scales…

Or if you’re guiding your adult learner to improve and enhance their improvisation skills through a deeper understanding of scales and chords…

These tools for teaching scales will help solidify your students’ understanding of scales in meaningful ways and will enhance their learning no matter their level.

What are your favorite tools for teaching scales? Share a comment below!


More tools for teaching scales:


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Melody Payne

Dr. Melody Payne is a pianist, teacher, and educational resource author who believes that all piano students deserve the best musical experiences possible, in every single lesson. Melody self-publishes pedagogical materials for piano students as well as piano teaching articles and professional development courses for piano teachers. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Music with emphases in music education and piano pedagogy and a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Louisiana State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music through the Music Teachers National Association. Melody and her husband Greg live in Marion, Virginia, a small town nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches children and adults of all ages and abilities in her online piano studio.

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Hi! I’m Melody Payne, a pianist and piano teacher, educational resource author, a fun-loving wife to the most wonderful and talented hubby I could ask for, and a lifelong learner who loves to share. I want to make your life as a music teacher easier by writing and sharing helpful and relevant music teaching articles, and by creating educational resources with your very own students in mind. If you are a parent who wants to enroll your child in piano lessons, I’d love for us to get started building those skills that can give your child a lifetime of musical enjoyment!

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