I think the clue to why I think improvisation is the route to success is in the name…melodic minor scales. Am I right? What are scales for if not for creating melodies?
If your answer was for teaching discipline, then you should probably hop off here. Nothing wrong with discipline but that’s not the primary focus of what I do here and in my teaching.
Still with me?
Ok good, I guess we’re on the same page. 🙂
Let me give you some practical ways that you can incorporate improvisation into your teaching of melodic minor scales. Because I know many teachers love the idea of including improv, but still lack the confidence to do it.
Here are some ways you can make student improvisation a regular part of your scales teaching.
Did you cringe? Are you scared to get involved? Good. Sometimes it’s great to push our own boundaries a little. It helps us to learn. (And I promise this is easy peasy!)
Just start a simple chord progress in the key that your student will be playing. This does not have to be fancy – a basic I-IV-vi-V would work great.
If even that sounds too freewheeling for you, take a duet part from a method book (the simpler the better) and transpose it to the correct key.
Once you have your accompaniment ask your student to improvise with their melodic minor scale, turning around wherever she wishes and making sure to adjust the accidentals as she goes.
The more you do this, the more musical it will sound. Don’t worry if she just goes straight up and down or stumbles a lot in the beginning. It’s all part of the process.
If you really don’t want to get involved or just need some variety, the MusiClock app is a great alternative.
I shared more about this app in the post on The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Teaching Piano Scales, so I won’t go into a ton of detail here. Basically, it provides backing tracks for scales in awesome pop, rock and jazz styles that students just love.
Melodic Minor Scales Flipped Learning Video
In this video, I teach students about the melodic minor scales using the piano and staff notation. Feel free to send these videos to parents for their kids to watch, use it in group lessons or as part of lab time.
These videos are designed to be clear and concise so that students can watch them – and then get on with some writing work for reinforcement. Saving you time to do fun activities during the lesson time.
More Flipped Thinking Theory
If you liked this music theory video, you might also like these others:
- Flipped Basic Note Values
- Flipped Beginning Solfa
- Flip and Gameify Landmark Notes
- Flipped Time Signatures
- Flipped Note & Rest Values
- Flipped Dynamics
- Flipped Accidentals, Tones & Semitones
- Flipped Articulation Marks
- Flipped C and G Major Scales
- Flipped Tempo Marks
- Flipped Ledger Line Landmark Notes
- Flipped Intermediate Note Values
- Flipped Note Stem Rules
- Flipped Solfa Scale Singing
- Flipped D & F Major Scales
- Flipped Note Grouping/Beaming
- Flipped Expression Marks
How do you approach melodic minor scales?
Have you ever gotten your students to improvise with their scales? Share your ideas in the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook or in the comments below.
If you want more on teaching improvisation to piano students read this post on the “big secret” of teaching improvising.