By Katherine Fisher

Last week I wrote a article introducing the Interval Cards, so this second post is intended as more of a practical “how to” for use of the cards.

Before a student begins using the Interval Cards, it is very helpful for him/her to understand a few basics about notation such as:

  • Treble Clef
  • Bass Clef
  • Line and Space Notes
  • Landmark Notes Treble G and Bass C
  • Intervals: 2nds

Repertoire Book 1 has several Musicianship pages that cover these concepts, (pg.52-56) so it will work well for students to complete these first.

If you have ever seen Julie and I present at conferences, etc. you know we suggest a very specific system of marking and analyzing our Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards. We use this system for the Interval Cards as well. If you have not read our blog post about teaching the Sight Reading & Rhythm Cards, you can access the Mini Essay here:

Although I am writing a bit about marking the Interval Cards in this post, the article listed above will give you a very thorough understanding of our philosophy!

The first Interval Card is very simple: it uses only Landmark Note Treble G.

We ask students to color the Treble Clef sign red (RH = red) and label the starting note using red as well. I tell the student, “Most of the time, RH plays in the Treble Clef. To help us remember, we will color the Treble Clef red.”

Since the note repeats, we pick a “sames” color (I use this term with young students rather than “unison”) and connect the notes to show that they do not move up or down. My daughter used red for the “sames” in the card below since that is what we had on hand, but I actually recommend choosing a different color so as not to confuse it with the treble clef color.
Interval Card

If a student is very young, I go through several steps before asking them to play the card:

1. Find Treble G on the piano (If you have a red “Fuzzy,” the students enjoy placing it on the note).

Fuzzy Treble G

2. Tell the student to raise her RH and wiggle whatever finger number you call out. (I usually start with Finger 2.)

3. Ask her to place her hand on the starting note and check for a good hand position (Fuzzy is off the note at this point).

4. Student plays, keeping her eyes on the card.

5. Repeat the process with a different finger number.

As the cards progress, the notes begin to move up or down from the landmark. After marking the card, the student and I point at each note and talk through the melodic direction. For example, for the following card, the student might say:

“G, up, up, down.”

Interval Card

If the student has difficulty seeing the direction of the notes, sometimes adding a story helps. I might say something like, “Your pet dog started to walk up the hill, but then he turned around and came back down for a treat.” I occasionally draw up and down arrows above the melodic line as well.

To reinforce the concept of melodic direction, my daughter (4 years old) and I used a staircase for a clear illustration of up, down, and same. I designated one step as “Treble G” and we moved up and down according to the card, singing along. This was fun, and it can be a bit of a workout if you do it with multiple cards and students! We also used this idea for the first Reading Piece in Unit 3: “My Dog Fritz.” We started at the bottom of the stairs, and actually moved up 8 steps for the octave change!

I focused on the Treble Clef Cards with 2nds in this post, but there are also cards that begin in the Bass Clef on Landmark C and cards that use all 3rds.

We also have ideas for games to use with the different colors of the Interval Cards. We’ll publish some ideas in a future post!