Vol.17 No.3

Techniques: Intervals

Practicing patterns using scales can be an essential part of a good practice session. We’ll be learning a new type of scale pattern based on intervals.

National Standards: 1-3, 5-7, 9, 11


Have the class read Techniques: Intervals (page 22 of the student edition).

Key points in the article:

    • Good practicing habits are essential, and scales are one of the best things to practice
    • An interval is the space between two notes, counted inclusively
    • In a C major scale, the distance between C and D is a second because D is the second note in the scale
    • Practicing scales using intervals will prepare you for when you come across interval patterns in a piece of music


Example 1

Begin by playing a regular C major scale. Then play the patterns in example 1, using thirds, fourths, fifths and sixths. Have students try it on their own instruments, two measures at a time. 

Example 2

This pattern is exactly the same as the one in the first example, except instead of adding intervals higher than the primary scale tones, these intervals are lower. Have students practice these on their own, and ask for volunteers to play for the class.

Example 3

This exercise provides an example of a piece of music you may come across that uses interval scale patterns as a melody. While the technique remains the same, adding in unexpected melodic lines and jumps breaks up the pattern to keep you sharp as you practice.

Example 4

After playing through this pattern of sixths with your students, listen to “Misterioso” by Thelonious Monk. Use the same chords to compose your own melody using intervals.