Teaching Minor Scales
Bernadette A., California
Can someone recommend to me how they teach their students the Minor Scales?
Brianna S., Tennessee
I teach major scales in the order of the circle of fifths. Then, I usually start with natural minor, and show the relationship with the relative major, since they have the same key signature
Marlene H., California
When they know ballade really well
Mark M., New York
I haven’t done it systematically, but I do remember something a SM Teacher once said that may provide an option.
Chester Chills Out includes all three types of minor scale.
I position: all notes are in all three.
IV position: these notes are in the C natural minor scale as well as the descending part of the C melodic minor scale.
V position: ascending, the notes are in the ascending part of the C melodic minor scale. Descending, the notes are the C harmonic minor scale.
Obviously none of this gets at any one complete scale, but it’s interesting that all the elements are there. Could provide a path toward teaching it in C, and then those patterns would be understood enough to possibly grasp the formulas for doing it in other keys.
(I assumed you were asking about the different types as minor scales as opposed to the the relative minor whose notes match those of a major key.)
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
I don’t teach them unless they specifically request it or are a theory geek like myself. Then I just provide a simple handout I found online, let them digest it and lmk if they have any questions.
Minor Scales handout
Kym N., California
A few different ways:
Major scale from note 1 and note 5 Pentascales (or Tetrascales):
e.g. The first 4 notes from C major Pentascale + G major Pentascale
Minor Scale (natural) from note 1 and note 4 Minor Pentascales:
e.g. The first 3 notes of C minor Pentascale + F minor Pentascale (Think about Chester Chills Out)
Learn the natural minor scale from the major scale:
e.g. Play the Cm chord. The 3rd note is Eb and the key signature for C minor has 3 flats (Eb major). So, you just play the same set of notes of Eb major but start with C and you get C minor.
Three different kinds of minor scale using the major scales:
Natural: -3, -6, -7 (chords: i, iv, v)
Harmonic: -3, -6, (chords: i, iv, V)
Melodic: Going up -3 (chords: i, IV, V)
Coming down -3, -6, -7
So, only -3 (flat 3) is unchanged. That makes sense as you really need to flat the number 3 note to make a minor chord or scale.
You can play these rules using the C major scale and A major scale and play the 3 different minor scales.
Fingering is a different topic.
I like to teach major scales using the Circle of 5th too.
I also like to use the song [Dog?] for a Pentascales challenge.
Original discussion started July 6, 2020