One of the trickiest things about getting to the upper levels of any graded exam system is the huge number of scales and arpeggios that students have to recall instantly from memory. Remembering the starting notes and correct fingerings for each hand of the 3rd inversions of dominant 7th arpeggios is rarely easy, especially when under pressure.
One of the best ways to practice the recall of these arpeggios and scales is by getting your students to set up flashcards that can bring up scales and arpeggios in random order, just like in an exam. There are heaps already available online if you haven’t already explored them and it’s easy to set up new ones. Students can use the flashcards on their iPad, iPhone and online through any web browser.
So, how do you do it?
I use a website called Quizlet to make the flashcard sets. This is also the place that students can view and use the flashcards if they don’t have an iPad/iPhone. The best thing is, every flashcard set that has already been made by someone else in the world is available to you for free! Click the above link to go to Quizlet now and search for exam flashcards for whatever board you use. The entire piano for ABRSM is there already and I’ve just started to add the AMEB ones. You can also search for flashcards for Italian terms, French musical terms, music theory, etc. etc.
Here are the AMEB Grade 7 Arpeggios and Grade 6 Scales that I setup yesterday. Here are the ABRSM flashcards. Students can easily setup their own and the best thing is that once one person does it for a grade and exam board, it’s available for everyone.
You’ll notice that the information on my cards is pretty basic (shorthand) as I’ve copied the information straight across from a word document where I have all the technical work listed for each exam grade listed already. To save time, I just copied and imported these directly into Quizlet. Here’s how my Grade 6 Arpeggios looked in Word format before I imported it into Quizlet.
Once you’ve setup your flashcards on Quizlet, it’s simply a matter ofdownloading an app to use them on an iPad or iPhone. I use the flashcardlet app (listed as Flashcardlet* on the app store with the asterisk). It’s free and, most importantly, it can download flashcards from Dropbox or quizlet.
There are 1000s of flashcard apps available, all with varying functionality and cost. If you want to explore the app options, use this comprehensive website that compares all the flashcard apps and lets you search by feature, price, connectivity options, etc.
Anyway, once the app is installed, just follow the on-screen prompts to search for flashcards on quizlet and then download them to the app and away you go! Students will enjoy using it and it’s the best way to practice quick recall of anything that has to be learnt by memory (great for languages too!).
Here’s a YouTube of how to use Flashcardlet:
For more great iPad ideas, see my article on Best iPad apps for piano teachers.
Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular TopCast show, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.