Tag Archives: Music Theory

A Simple Guide to Teach Major Scales Without a Book

A simple step-by-step start to major scales

Click here for the special price

I am excited to share with you a special offer on a simple guide to teach major scales without a book taught by the outstanding pedagogy teacher, Elizabeth Gutierrez. She is extending this offer to my followers, for a special price before it goes live to the public.

This course was originally part of the 2017 Piano Camp for Piano Teachers, so if you have purchased the 2017  bundle in the past, you already have this. But for those of you who didn’t, and are not able to attend PCPT in person, it is now available as a stand alone class for only $37.00 for a limited time. Included with the price is lifetime access to it across all your devices. Plus, Elizabeth is adding a couple of more modules of additional help.

Course Description

Why wait until students can read a scale book and understand key signatures before starting scales? You can start students easily with scales once they know steps and skips at the keyboard. Elizabeth shares a tried and true method for introducing scales in a highly visual, auditory, and kinesthetic manner to confirm understand of all 12 major scales in just a few weeks! All without a book! When students are finished with this system, they will be able to move easily into playing one octave scales with the traditional fingerings.

The course contains a video lesson plus 4 PDF handouts.

Course Enhancements Coming Soon

  • A week-to-week assignment plan for an average age beginners so you will have a better idea of how to progress from week to week.
  • A video of an actual student performing scales


Elizabeth’s system will get your primer-level students (any age, even 4-5 year olds) started on scales in a very straightforward, understanding way. No more waiting until method books introduce scales. She begins this step-by-step teaching plan when students have demonstrated a good grasp of steps vs. skips on the keyboard and on the staff.

This system works beautifully for beginners of all ages and it’s especially helpful for teaching transfer students who need serious review or who have never learned scales at all. The reason it can be used with pre-schoolers who have learned whole and half steps, is because it is all on the keyboard, without a book!

If you are an adult who always wanted to learn some music theory, you can enroll in this program and guide yourself along quite easily. 

Home school parents who have some background in music will learn how to teach their students scales in all the keys. Once students are finished with this two-hand method, it will be easy to move into key signatures and the circle of fifths. It will help students who want to learn how to play with church groups or take theory exams.

Access this course anytime, on demand, across all your devices. All the PDF handouts are downloadable so you can use them again and again with your students.

The good news: You get the pre-launch price of $37.00! Hooray!

The bad news: You have to grab this before Sunday, Feb. 18 at midnight Central time.

About Elizabeth

Founder ELIZABETH GUTIERREZ began Piano Camp for Piano Teachers in 2009 as an extension of her instructional blog for piano teachers. She has years of experience teaching piano, piano pedagogy, and piano literature to undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has given numerous workshops and master classes to working independent teachers around the globe both in person and via livestream on Facebook and Periscope and also as a national clinician for Faber Piano Adventures. For her workshops and online courses, she draws on her extensive background as an independent teacher, professor, performer, and composer/editor/author.

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Filed under Elementary Music, Preschool Music Resources, Teaching Aids, Teaching Business, Texas State Theory Test

Rhythm Blocks

Rhythm Blocks

Rhythm Blocks

Using these rhythm cut-outs is a great hands-on way to teach rhythm. If students are confused about rhythm values, it could be that verbal explanations didn’t work. How many times have we thought students understood a concept only to discover later that they were really confused but didn’t want to tell you? I remember when I was a young piano student just nodding my head in agreement when I really had no idea what my teacher was talking about. I started parroting back her definition of time signatures because I was a good at memorizing. But I didn’t understand what I was saying and I didn’t want to admit I didn’t get it. I liked her and I wanted to make her happy!

One of the first and most important rhythm concepts students have understand is that a note with a dot is equal to three of the of the next shorter note. That is the key to understanding dotted half notes and dotted quarters.  Theses rhythm shapes are great for that because they are proportional in size; so two eighths are the same size as one quarter.

Print this page on card stock and glue it to a sheet of thin craft foam before you cut them out. If you are crafty, even better is to glue the page to foam board (also called tag board), which will make them easier for students to move around but a lot hard to cut out!

I made this printable years ago, but today’s post is updated to make the notes easier to read. Plus, I fixed a note that was orientated wrong. So if you have the old file, you can replace it with this one.

Another way to explain fractions is to use my Rhythm Pizza printable. It is a very helpful first step to teaching rhythm values. Then to teach counting dotted notes, use this helpful visual, Rhythm in the Grid.

I know you can come up with many ideas for students to learn with these!


Filed under Rhythm, Teaching Aids, Texas State Theory Test, Theory

Rhythm Review 1-6 Revised

Rhythm Review Levels 1-3

Rhythm Review 1-3

Rhythm Review Levels 4-6

Rhythm Review Levels 4-6

I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the theory worksheets I post are for the Texas MTA theory exams. These exams are in twelve levels, one for each grade. The early grades are not hard and they are a great way for teachers to discover if their students are really remembering all the theory we teach in lessons. If you are in an area that offers theory exams, consider them!

Last year, after several years of hard work, the TMTA theory tests were revised. In my studio, that means I need to revise all my theory worksheets. It is a daunting challenge, but I’ve been slowly trying.

Today’s post contains rhythm questions for grades one through six and up to about level 4 in most method books. In the top left corner of each page, I numbered the tests with the TMTA level to keep them straight, but teachers can certainly use these sheets to reinforce rhythm concepts at any grade. You all know I love silly cartoons, but I tried really hard to make these pages friendly looking, and not cartoony. They use less ink than the originals, and they can be used with any age.

See any mistakes? Let me know!


Filed under Intermediate Students, Rhythm, Texas State Theory Test, Theory, Worksheets

Write the Grand Staff from G to F

Write the Grand Staff from G to F

The Grand Staff from G to F

In this worksheet, students write the name of the note inside each note. You can also have them draw lines to the corresponding piano keys if you have time. It can even be inserted into their binder as a handy guide.

Typically, piano students are taught the notes on the treble staff and the bass staff. But many times students don’t realize the logical continuity of the grand staff. We know the grand staff is more than two separate entities, one for right hand and one for left. However, there is just so much to teach in so little time that it is easy to have short cuts to learning concepts in order to get everything covered. If you have ever had students who need to see the overall picture of the grand staff, this little work sheet might help. It shows clearly how the music alphabet continues from bass to treble staff.

Elizabeth Gutierrez suggests using A C E to learn the grand staff.  My students find A C E easier than some other ways. It also helps them to learn the inner ledger lines. So I have students circle all the ACE’s on the grand staff. There is no reason you can’t use guide notes, A C E or FACE, or Every Good Boy Does Fine, or whatever you find successful with a particular student.

Learning note names will not necessarily make students good sight readers. Different parts of the brain are used to identify notes than to actually sight-read notes at the piano. However, learning notes will help our students become overall better musicians. Learning note names can be difficult for some students, but we have to keep trying!

Here is a little tidbit for your students. The phrase GRAND STAFF starts with G and ends with F. How is that for a coincidence!


Filed under Note Identification