'KEY SHAPES FOR STRINGS' PRESENTATION AND LEARNING SEQUENCE  

   The "Key Shapes Student Pack" includes the pages listed below. These pages were developed in the classroom and refined over 20+ years of development with many hundreds of students. The most appropriate time for inclusion of these pages into a curriculum is 8th-10 grade. At that level few of my students have had difficulty. However, I've had great success with students as young as 5th grade (not beginning players) and the materials are appropriate for any age older than that. Many students who enter college music programs end up in remedial theory classes. Graduates of our program generally skip the first level of theory or breeze through it with confidence. 

     Descriptions of the pages are given in part because many teachers already have materials and procedures that successfully address these learning activities. The only materials that are unique to "Key Shapes for Strings" are the Key Shapes Work Sheets. They help students form a quick link between key signatures and hand shapes / key patterns - essential for improved sight reading and dramatically reducing initial preparation time for any repertoire or technique development. It is essential that students do the work leading up to the Key Shapes Work Sheets. That knowledge is critical for widespread application of these activities. The sequence of these materials has proven quite successful. The more compressed the training, the greater the retention, the quicker the application to practical application, and the sooner the benefits are realized.

     The only way to find out what each of your students knows is to give and grade written activities. As much as is practical, "KEY SHAPES FOR STRINGS" materials are in scantron format to reduce the time needed to grade papers and to analyze the data for curriculum improvement. Most of the rest of the materials are quickly graded. Pencil to paper is a highly effective process to promote thorough learning. The rehearsal time spent on these activities will dramatically reduce the time needed to remediate later.

KEYBOARD (PIANO) & FINGERBOARD NOTE LAYOUT 

Introduction of: 'Natural', 'Flat', and 'Sharp' accidentals; 'Whole Steps' and "Half Steps'; the keyboard and fingerboard location of the 3 basic accidentals for each of the 7 notes in the music alphabet.  Most students who thoroughly understand keyboard note location make a quick connection to note location on any instrument. Most students who do not have this knowledge struggle forever with learning new music of any kind.

MASTERY OF ALL 5 ACCIDENTALS

Introduction to 'Double Sharp' and 'Double Flat'. What do they look like?  Where are they in relation to the sharp, natural, and flat for each of the 7 notes in the music alphabet. Even though we rarely use the final 2 accidentals, mastery of these concepts provides the opportunity to attain absolute mastery of everything there is to know about accidentals and keyboard note location. From the self-confidence gained in doing this work, students learn to love the challenge of learning. They become eager to take on the next challenge.

LISTED BELOW ARE THE PAGES FROM THE "KEY SHAPES STUDENT PACK" 
THAT RELATE TO 'KEYBOARD NOTE LAYOUT', 'THE 5 ACCIDENTALS', 'CHROMATIC SCALE
PIANO / KEYBOARD NOTE IDENTIFICATION (Introduction)

This study guide helps students learn the location for the 7 natural notes on a keyboard, "half steps", "whole steps", "natural", "sharp", and "flat". It stresses the importance of remembering that there is no black note between B & C or between E & F. As a result, on ANY instrument B to C is a half step and E to F is a half step.

CHROMATIC SCALE GUIDE for violin, viola, cello, and bass

This study guide helps students make the connection from the keyboard note layout that they just learned to the layout of all the notes in the chromatic scale on their own instruments. Again, the half step from B to C and E to F is stressed.

CHROMATIC SCALE QUIZ for violin, viola, cello, and bass

This is a written mastery check activity for the previous pages. As with all Key Shapes work sheets, quizzes, and tests, students should be encouraged to do the work without the help of the study guides. However, students who are struggling with comprehension should be allowed to use the study guides when they are stumped. 

ACCIDENTALS - EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW

A study guide with brief work sheet conclusion, this guide introduces the remaining accidentals of double sharp and double flat. Students are to carefully draw each of the 5 accidentals for given notes at the bottom of the page. Care should be given to place each accidental quite precisely on the same line or space and immediately in front of each note head.

ACCIDENTALS / KEYBOARD NOTE ID WORKSHEET

This page has 40 questions in scantron format. This activity checks for individual mastery of the keyboard note location for all 'flavors' (all 5 accidentals) for each of the 7 notes in the music alphabet. There is a photo of a keyboard on the page. Students are asked the keyboard color (black or white) for 20 notes then to give another name for 20 more pitches. For example, "What is the 'C' name for 'Db'?" The five answer choices are double flat, flat, natural, sharp, and double sharp.   Labeled a "worksheet", students should be encouraged to do this work with minimal or no help from the study guide.

ACCIDENTALS WORKSHEET

This page has 50 questions in scantron format. This activity reviews the five accidentals, the distances between the natural notes, and interval sizes. Most students find that using a keyboard photo is very helpful for this page. The answer choices for the first 10 note pairs are 'half step' or 'whole step'. The answer choices for note pairs 11-50 are 'half step', 'whole step', 'a step and a half', 'two steps', 'enharmonic tones'.

NOTE: All notes are presented in treble clef. Prior to distribution of this work sheet, it is necessary that students are introduced to note placement in treble clef, 'Enharmonic Tones', and how to find a step and a half and 2 steps on the keyboard.