# Winter Intervals

I have yet to have a student who can remember the definition of an interval (the distance between two notes). They sputter a bit, and I sigh and say, “Okay, play me a fourth.” That they can do.

Understanding intervals is not just great music theory, it also is enormously helpful in reading music. Your brain doesn’t have to process all the note names if it knows the relationships between the notes.

For this activity, I am indebted to Teach Piano Today for a great little free printable called Wintervals. It’s a lovely idea for private lessons in January, and their instructions are fun. I played it differently, in several different ways, as you can see below.

What you need:

• One game piece to represent a snowman
• I drew one up on cardstock in about 30 seconds. Teach Piano Today recommends a mini-marshmallow. Anything would work.
• One die
• I used a ten-sided one, but you could use a regular one.
• Staff paper/pencil or giant staff/manipulatives (optional)

Setup:

• Place the game piece above the first square (“A”).

How to Play on the Keyboard:

• Roll the dice. That number specifies what interval you need to play. The bottom note should be the letter on the square your game piece is on (A for the first turn). For example, if the die says 3, play A and C because that makes a third.
• My 10-sided die included a 0. If they rolled that it meant teacher gets to pick the interval.
• If the student plays the interval wrong, the game piece moves up one space. If correct, the student can choose between moving up one or two spaces. That choice is pretty important because if the game piece lands on a hot spot, she melts and goes back to the beginning.
• Repeat until the game piece makes it to the finish line.
• Talking points along the way, depending on the level of the student:
• Which intervals sound pretty?
• Which intervals sound harsh?
• Which intervals are so important they have a special name? (1=unison; 8=octave)
• Which intervals sound harsh but could be resolved into something pretty? (7th to 8th, 2nd to 3rd, etc.)
• How many half steps are contained within the interval?
• Is the interval major or minor?

How to Play on the Staff:

• Follow the same instructions as above, but instead of playing the notes, draw them on staff paper or place manipulatives on a giant staff.
• Talking points along the way, depending on the level of the student:
• Odd numbered intervals always go from line to line or space to space.
• Even numbered intervals have a line and a space.
• Knowing intervals allows you to correctly place notes on ledger lines, even if you don’t know what the name of the note is.

How to Play Backwards on Either Keyboard or Staff:

• Alternatively, you could also skip the number die entirely. Instead, have the student draw letters A-G out of a bag. Then they play or write the start note from the Wintervals sheet, play or write the note from the bag, and name the interval the two notes make.

# Colorful Intervals

This week I played a game to practice the concept of intervals:

What you need:

• A set of cards with intervals
• Two keyboard sheets* printed out and laminated or put in a sheet protector
• Whiteboard markers, preferably in a variety of colors

Setup:

• Shuffle the cards.
• Each player should label Middle C with a whiteboard marker.

How to Play:

• The first player draws a card and names the interval. Once you have named it, color in the entire interval (meaning the top note, the bottom note, and all notes in between) on your keyboard. This ends the turn.
• The second player follows the same process.
• If you have already colored in some or all of the notes contained in the interval on the card, you can color in an equivalent interval anywhere else on the keyboard. For example, if you draw a fourth from middle C to F, but you’ve already colored those notes, you can draw a fourth from G to B above it.
• If your keyboard is so full you cannot find an equivalent interval, color in the largest interval you can find and name it.
• The first person to completely fill their keyboard wins.

*My keyboard sheets are from Kristin’s site atÂ http://www.myfunpianostudio.com/. I highly recommend her Piano Magic improv course.