Summer (finger exercise) Games: In Retrospect

Over the course of the past two weeks, I've handed out about 20 rice crispy treats to a group of my students. With that, my summer incentive/game has ended and it is back to lessons as usual. So time for a review- did it work?

Back track: here's a picture of the "game board" on the wall. Eight circles for the eight exercises stapled into the rug that serves as a sound barrier. This was taken when my students were just starting.  

The students had to play a short exercise in 4 different keys (always starting in C major). The exercises were designed to work on technique, so they had to play them without errors to move on to the next exercise. At the end of the summer, one student made it to exercise 5, two made it to 4 and one made it through 2, and another didn't return. 

My goal was to retain more students during the summer, give them something fun to work on, and progress in learning all the five-finger scales and correcting some poor technique. 

What didn't work:

Hoping the incentive would help retain more students.

The problem was that most of the students took a lot of time off anyway. I don't blame them, I know family life tends to get busy during the summer and some students wind up traveling a lot. But it did take the momentum out of the game and no one made it the whole way.

Fixing technique.

I had mixed results with correcting technique, especially with the students who were gone a lot. I suppose it was a lesson to me that I can't just magically fix something, technique problems take a lot of time and repetition to change. But it was a good way to focus on what they were doing with their hands without feeling too repetitive. 

What did work:

Learning five-finger scales

This was a great way to teach about transposition and hand positions for some of the more obscure five-finger scales. Though the students don't often play in B major, or A flat yet, it was good for them to see how those keys feel in their hands, especially for when it comes to playing chords later. This is the part that challenged my older students (and may have actually been a little too hard for the younger ones). Here's a look at some of the keys for exercise 5. 


Would I do it again? 

I don't think I would do this exact game again, but  I definitely liked having something different during the summer months. Next time I'd like to actually get all of my students through all the five-finger scales, so maybe I will develop something around that.