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The Scale Wheel

In teaching children I have found some difficulty in making the study of scales sufficiently interesting. They say they forget to practice the scales. Lately I have hit upon a plan that helps them to remember, by keeping them interested.
I make a large circle on blank paper, one for each pupil, and fasten it in the study book. Instead of calling it the "circle of scales," it is named The Scale Wheel. Making the hub in the center, I explain that each scale learned will be a spoke. This plan is introduced after the C scale has been learned, so we can put in the first spoke at once. Then the G scale is given and G is written where the next spoke is to be, and after the scale is learned the spoke is put in and an F sharp is placed on it. As each scale is learned the spoke is put in till the wheel is completed, and when we want to review we begin at C and go around the wheel, or to the opposite side at first, then begin again at C and go around the other way. After they are well learned we can learn how to go entirely around the wheel, but for children it is at first simpler to learn the sharp scales by fifths up and the flats by fifths down. I teach the structure of scales and the way they progress, and try to make it as interesting as possible, but the wheel presents them in a tangible form that certainly adds to their interest. By starting several pupils at the same time there is quite a rivalry as to who gets the next spoke in first, which makes them "remember to practice the scales."
One bright little boy asked me one day what we would do when we got the wheel finished. I said we would make another and have longer scales (more than one octave), to which he quickly replied, "Then we'll put on some bars and have a bicycle." I had not thought of that, but may follow his suggestion. If one can mix some music with their thoughts of the beloved wheels, so much the better. Perhaps we will have a major and minor wheel to compose this music lesson bicycle.

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You are reading The Scale Wheel from the August, 1910 issue of The Etude Magazine.

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