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Welcome to my blog! Here I will share some of my thoughts on horn playing and teaching, which I think about a lot, and maybe some other things, too. Since my job (which thankfully, allows me to do a lot of playing and teaching) keeps me very busy, as does my wonderful family, I may not write frequently. My goal will be quality, not quantity!

Please share your comments.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Scale Pong!

     This is a game I invented to play with my horn students each semester before scales tests and juries. Here are the basic "official" rules, which seem to change slightly each time we play:

One on one:

Place plastic cups in front of each player with the name of a scale written on each cup. Players may arrange the cups on their side however they choose, as long as they are all touching.

The winner of the coin toss can choose whether to throw or play first.

One player tosses a ping-pong ball into a cup on the other player’s side. When the ball lands in a cup (which often takes several tries), the opposing player must play the scale indicated on the cup. The metronome is on while the scale is played. The other spectators rate the performance by consensus, on a scale from 0 to 10 (10 being the highest), with the studio teacher having the final say.  If the performer scores a 7 or better, that cup is removed from their side.

Play continues (with equal turns) for a set number of rounds, or to a predetermined score.  If the score is tied after the last round, replace all cups and have one round of sudden death.  The player with the highest score wins.

Tips, possible variations, etc.

  • Before play begins, I set up a bracket (think March Madness), so that we can have a "Scale Pong Champion" after several rounds.
  • Depending on the level of the players, you can use minor scales in various forms. If the ball lands in a minor scale cup, the thrower gets to choose which form of the scale the player will play.
  • You need something to weigh the cups down, or else they will go tumbling with every throw. A few coins in the bottom of each cup work well.
  • Write the names of the scales on the inside of the cups, on 2 opposing sides. This makes it easy for both opponents to see which scale has been landed.
  • We usually play each round to 25 points. This can be adjusted depending on how many points are being earned for each scale, and how long you want the matches to last.
  • If you want to be really mean, you can impose a 5 point deduction and/or a loss of turn for a missed throw.
  • For a larger group of students, you could have teams of 2 or 3 face off, and students rotate turns playing.
  • The "spectators" should be moving their fingers along with every scale.

     This is a really fun game that (most of) my students really look forward to each semester. The elements of competition and peer pressure are very good motivators! Let me know if you have other favorite games, or ideas to improve Scale Pong!

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