Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Motivating younger students to practice – part 3

Motivating Students to Practice Scales…

Scales… Ugh!  Who loves to learn to play scales?  Arguably scales are very helpful to learn skills, pass exams, play faster, etc.

Motivating students to practice – using scale sticks for random choice has helped my students want to practice their scales.

You’ll no doubt agree that it is better to motivate students to practice their scales rather than berate them for not practicing them…

My earlier blog post ‘Scales Made Easier‘ helps my students to learn scale patterns.  However, I have added a fun element to provide a way of preparing students for the randomness of needing to play scales out of order, to sharpen their mind.

Introducing wooden sticks has helped students to practice scales in a more fun way (which scale am I playing next, left/right/together etc?).  I also use several dice with ‘left hand’, ‘right hand’, ‘hands together’ or ‘hands together with eyes closed’, 1 finger, together contrary motion, etc., for scales or arpeggios.  Students pick a stick and roll the dice (for scale, broken chord or arpeggio, depending on what stick they picked).

About the Author

Maggie George
With her husband Peter, Maggie George owned, operated and taught in a large music school/store in Trenton, Ontario, Canada, scheduling hundreds of students each week with up to 15 part-time teachers for individual music/art/drama lessons, summer camps and more.
Having sold the business back in September 2013, they returned to their home country, England, where they now teach private lessons at ... [Read more]


  1. Julie Werth

    Thank you for the helpful article. I will work on making some scale sticks! I teach clarinet, so the
    following scale practice methods won’t all work on the piano.
    1. When I was a kid, I played my memorized scales while I marched around the house. This kept me from getting antsy sitting still for so long, and used up some of my excess energy. I also stood by the front window while playing to see what the neighborhood was doing or to watch nature (for a calming, almost meditative practice).
    2. Any player can use a scale practice card. On each line, list the thirteen scales (including both F# and Gb majors) in a different random order. Tech-savvy students will enjoy using an online random order generator. Play a different line each day. Also, try mixing the majors and minors. On other days, play the scales in the order of the circle of 5ths, circle of 4ths, chromatically up or chromatically down. You can also use a 12-sided die, available for games like Dungeons & Dragons.

  2. Maggie George

    Thanks for your thoughts Julie. Glad you like the idea of the sticks too! 🙂

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