For my Learning Project, I took a few Circle of Fifths Quizzes to test my knowledge of the content. I plan on redoing these each week.
Below are the results of three different online quizzes I took on the Circle of Fifths.
This quiz gives you ten randomized questions. It also times you.
This quiz tracked your time and also how many false answers you gave. The little green dots would become different colours depending on how many tries it took to get it right. After four tries, the correct answer is highlighted in purple.
I appreciate that this test gave me a visual aid with the actual circle, so I could place notes where they belonged.
This last quiz had a 3 minute time limit, which I only realized after it ran out. The quiz also told me that I’m “better than this” and that it “believed in me”.
These quizzes really made me realize that I had been relying on referencing a picture of the circle of fifths, and needed to work more on memorizing it if I wanted it to be useful to me.
Quizzes are effective to a certain extent. After a certain point, I suspect that retaking these same quizzes may become a matter of pure memorization, which isn’t always a sign of knowing the content.
Last week I posted about the lesson videos that I have been watching. In contrast to lesson videos, I’ve found that tutorial videos are much more exciting, since they go past any theory and get me learning songs right away.
For example, here’s a tutorial video on how to play Owl City’s song “Silhouette”.
Pros of Tutorial Videos
- demonstrate quicker results (being able to play your favourite songs and impress your friends)
- Piano roll is visible, somtetimes notes can be seen moving down the screen Guitar Hero or Rock Band style. The new pianist learns to anticipate what notes are to be played next, (similar skill learned when you are trained to read sheet music)
Cons of Tutorial Videos
- new pianist may rely too much on memorization and abandon the study of theory (which helps the pianist understand WHY they are playing what they are playing)
- Many tutorial videos are not well-explained, or use poor video-quality. The lack of visual aids or graphics can lead to a very difficult-to-follow video.
Understanding theory is very important, as it establishes the rules that govern how the piano is played. Someone who understands theory is able to then break the rules and move into improvisation, which is one of my main goals (see post #1)
At the same time, theory can become boring, and I imagine that many new pianists have quit piano merely because it felt like a drag. I’m on my fourth piano lesson myself, and I have still not played a single song yet (we’ve been doing worksheets and talking about theoretical concepts for an hour and a half each lesson).
In the classroom, I think that a good strategy would be to give your students a balance between theory and practice.
THEORY: Teach the students the rules with textbook or article readings, quizzes, or presentation assignments.
PRACTICE: Allow the students to apply what they know about theory with cool projects, or by inviting experts in their field into the classroom to speak to the class about how they apply theory into their everyday jobs.
BLENDING: As part of each assignment, you can help students connect theory and practice by getting them to reflect on how the two relate to each other (Ex: How did you use what you know about the Circle of Fifths to inform your performance of the song “Silhouettes” in class?)
Before I end this post, here is a video of me attempting to play “Meteor Shower” by Owl City using what I have learned about the key of D! Next week, I will take what I know about the song and combine it with what I learn in a tutorial video.